Fifth Column Mouse (1943)
Article 5492 by Dave Sindelar
Directed by Friz Freleng
Featuring the voices of Mel Blanc, Michael Maltese and the Sportsmen’s Quartet
What it is: Warner Brothers cartoon
A mouse is bribed by a cat to convince his brothers that the cat has friendly intentions and means to protect him, but really…
Since anthropomorphic animals alone are not used by me as fantastic criteria for cartoons anymore, I wasn’t quite sure at first whether to review this one or not; the plot ends up having the mice build a dog-shaped tank with which to attack the cat. In an ordinary movie, I’d consider this as possible marginal science fiction content; whether it deserved inclusion would hinge on whether we were dealing with an invention that actually existed at the time. When you start debating on whether animated mice had dog-shaped tanks in 1943, you’re in “seriously divorced from reality” mode, and so I thought I’d go ahead and review.
This is obviously a topical cartoon about the war, a concept that is underlined by the fact that the cat at one moment gives a big “Japanese stereotype” grin and the betraying mouse gives a “Seig Heil” salute. The highlight of the cartoon is a musical number; the mice sing “We Did It Before (and We Can Do It Again)” while preparing for war with the cat. It’s not one of Warner’s best, but it is an entertaining wartime curio for all that. It’s interesting to see that writer Michael Maltese contributed to the voice acting as well as writing the script for this one.