The Cat From Outer Space is one of my favorite movies. I used to watch it over and over again until the tape we had wore out as it was no longer playable.
I loved this Disney film (yep completed that yearly tradition), as besides it being amazing I liked that the cat was the hero instead of the villain. There are very few movies that do that as usually the dog is the good guy.
This film is hilarious and even though it was made in the ‘70s the special effects still look really good. I watched this with my 10 year old niece and she not only loved and was invested in the story, but she also really liked the special effects as she thought they were cool.
And the cat is beyond adorable! It was played by two Abyssinians that are siblings and they are both amazing actors. I know it sounds silly to say that, but those trainers did such a great job as they really look like they are engaged in the conversation and a part of the scene. It’s amazing!
So the film starts off with a ship from outer space landing, and the cutest alien in the world that can invade my life anytime he wants, Abyssinian cat Zunar-J-5/9 Doric-4-7. His ship has had some issues so he had to make an emergency landing on our planet Earth. He looks like your average cat but can talk and has the power of telekinesis through the special collar he wears.
The military shows up and confiscates the ship, but they totally miss the cat. Unbeknownst to them, Zunar-J-5/9 Doric-4-7 follows them back to the base.
The next day the military calls together the top scientists from Energy Research Laboratory. They try to have a closed room conference, but it turns out that Mr. Stallwood (Roddy McDowell) is trying to infiltrate it. Yep, he’s a spy although not a very good one.
But one who is good at what they do is Zunar-J-5/9 Doric-4-7 who slips in unnoticed and listens to the deliberations.
The General shows the scientists a floating object the soldiers took from the ship. The scientists discuss it, but can’t come up with any reason to how it can levitate. One scientists, Dr. Liz Bartlett (Sandra Duncan), suggests bringing in new scientist Frank, (Ken Berry). Frank has a lot of theoretical ideas and some out there thoughts.
They call him in, but unfortunately he makes too many jokes and the General and the rest don’t take him seriously.
[Dr. Frank Wilson has been brought in to view the artifact removed from the flying saucer]
Frank: It’s beautiful.
General Stilton: Don’t you have any other observations?
Frank: Only that it looks like an artichoke, sir.
General Stilton: We know it looks like an artichoke, Wilson. What makes it tick?
General Stilton: Negative.
Frank: No, no, I was only joking, sir.
Frank then tries to explain his real theory but the General is done and kicks him out of the room. However, Zunar-J-5/9 Doric-4-7 is very interested in what he has to say as it actually was tracking near the truth of how his ship works.
Zunar-J-5/9 Doric-4-7 follows Frank to his office. Frank notices the cat and decides to call him Jake, but then is interrupted by Dr. Bartlett who comes to give Frank a piece of her mind, but after the two talk articles they have published, Frank manages to get Dr. Liz Bartlett to agree to go on a date with him. Frank is overjoyed over this, but his celebration is interrupted by Jake who decides to tell Frank the truth in order to get his help. Frank is shocked:
Frank: [realizing the voice is coming from the cat] It… it’s you?
Jake: It’s not the mouse. Now sit down.
Frank: But your lips aren’t moving. You’re not speaking.
Jake: Through transference. Nothing exceptional where I come from. Now, sit.[Using telekinesis generated through his collar, Jake pulls a chair behind Frank forward and he collapses into it]
Jake: My name is Zunar-J-5/9 Doric-4-7.
Frank: [struggling] Zunar…
Frank: But… you’re a cat.
But being a scientist, Frank get over this shock pretty quick, especially as Jake promises to share some interplanetary secrets with him.
The two decide to break into the base so that Jake can find out what needs to be done to fix his ship but they are interrupted by Frank’s neighbor and fellow scientist, Dr. Link. Dr. Link is a sports enthusiast and a gambler and wants to watch the game on Frank’s TV as he and his wife got into an argument. Frank and Jake are in a hurry so Jake uses his collar to help Dr. Link’s team win. But just as they fix that problem, Dr. Liz stops by to go out with Frank.
The two lie that Jake is sick and head down to the base. Stallwood, the spy, also has the same idea of sneaking into the base and tries to get in as well, following the pair. When Frank and Jake get caught, Jake uses his collar to freeze the soldier and then they sneak into the ship.
Frank is amazed and wants to know everything, but Jake needs to take care of business. He gives Frank his spare collar and has him bring a device to the outside of the ship so he can run diagnostics. Frank is eager to try it out, and has a lot of fun levitating/flying, so much fun that Jake has to snap him back to the plan at hand.
When they run the diagnostics it turns out that something was destroyed and needs to be replaced. To do that he needs Org 12 which on our planet is gold, a lot of gold. $120,000 worth of gold. In today’s time that would be almost $500,000.
The solider Jake froze earlier is seen by another soldier who sounds the alarm and the whole base comes alive with people
Frank is fuh-reaking out about where to get that much money, rightly so, and Jake is nonplussed. As they try to figure out how to get the money, the answer to their problems walks in as Dr. Link wants to watch more games and gamble. Jake decides to let Dr. Link know what is really going on. At first Dr. Link doesn’t believe them, but Jake uses his collar to convince him.
This scene is funny as they make the beer he is drinking go back in the can, shoot him in the face, have towels wrap around him, and Jake makes him float (and yes I do think it is weird how this film promotes drinking and gambling.) But the thing that distracts me watching it now is the poster that Frank has on his wall. It looks just like Jane from Tarzan (1999).
But unbeknownst to them, Stallwood who witnessed all the shenanigans at the base the night before had followed them and is filming them to show his employer.
So our cool cat crew puts some bets out there, but are interrupted when Dr. Bartlett shows up with her cat for their rescheduled date. Yes, it seems like Frank has a bit of The Absentminded Professor (Flubber) in him. He didn’t listen to her and totally didn’t realize they rescheduled their plans.
Frank tries to get rid of Dr. Bartlett by saying Jake is sick, but as Dr. Bartlett is a responsible pet owner, she gets the veterinarian in the complex to stop by and help make Jake better.
The only problem is that this Vet is more into the football game instead of helping the cat and proceeds to knock Jake out. Jake managed to help then win this football game, but they are out of luck for the next game and will lose all their money.
The only way to get their money back to send Jake home is to go down to the pool hall and try to get the bookie to let them make another bet. They hurry down, with sleeping Jake, and on the way explain everything to Dr. Bartlett who actually believes it really quickly.
Meanwhile the military, NASA, ERL, etc have been analyzing the ship and have discovered Frank’s fingerprints all over it, along with paw prints and cat hair. They have the computer analyze the ship and it declares that the cat is the pilot, but the General refuses to listen to that. They decide to head to Frank’s and wait outside to see who he is working with.
When the cat crew get to the pool hall they can’t get another game to bet on, but Frank decides to try for a pool game. To make back their money they have Dr. Bartlett face off against Sarasota Slim, pool hustler. Dr. Link and Dr. Bartlett are worried as Dr. Bartlett doesn’t know how to play, but decide to trust that Frank can use the collar.
I love that the crew brought Jake with them and no one is mad that there is a cat in the pool hall. Frank has Dr. Link hold Jake, and luckily there is a guy who likes onion and sauerkraut on his sandwich and has no boundaries as he stands right next to Dr. Link and Jake, his sandwich waking Jake up.
However, it isn’t fast enough and Frank hasn’t had enough practice that when he tries to help Dr. Bartlett out he makes the cue ball bounce around the room instead of knocking the balls around. They lose the game and their money.
But thanks to stinky sandwich guy, Jake wakes up and they are back on track. Frank tries to up the odds by betting on Dr. Bartlett to win blindfolded, with Sarasota Slim breaking and getting half the balls. The odds are 200 to 1, just what they need, and with Jake on their side they win.
They head back to the apartment where they are being watched by the military and Stallwood’s secret employer. The cat crew give Jake the gold who converts the giant brick into a tiny lego sized object.
Before they get a chance to leave the General marches in and is about to arrest them, when Jake freezes him. They are trying to decide what to do next when they get the idea to steal his clothes and have Frank pretend to be the General. The shirt they give the General is so not him, a touristy Hollywood shirt.
Frank and Jake head to the base, while Stallwood’s employer kidnaps Dr. Bartlett.
On base, Frank gets in and helps Jake repair his ship and move it. As they are about to say goodbye Dr. Link shows up and shares that Dr. Bartlett and her car Lucybelle were kidnapped and they want the collar in exchange. Jake likes Lucybelle the cat a lot and wants to help, but if he does he will never be able to return home again. Frank tells Jake to go home and he he and Dr. Link sadly watch Jake leave. Frank only had him for a little while but will greatly miss him.
As the ship disappears from the sky, Jake hops in the Jeep ready to help and stay on Earth. They head to the airport to try and save their lady loves.
Meanwhile, the General and his team have woken up and they head to the base, not too far behind Frank and Jake.
When Frank gets to the airport there are no planes available so Jake uses his collar to bring an old dilapidated plane that looks like it can barely run it or air.
On the plane, Stallwood realized that they have kidnapped Dr. Bartlett and that his employer plans on killing her. He doesn’t like it, and tries to stop him, but unfortunately he grabs the flare gun and shot the controller making it impossible to fly. Everyone bails out except Dr. Bartlett and Lucybelle as there are no more parachutes.
Jake and Frank try to save them in an incredible display, but when Frank puts Lucybelle on the plane with Jake, Jake gets distracted and Frank has to get him to focus.
In the end they catch the spy, the president decides that Jake will not be harmed but seen as an ambassador, and Jake goes to court to become a citizen of the USA, and plans to spent the rest of his days with Frank, Dr. Bartlett, Lucybelle, and Dr. Link.
It’s a very cute film that I highly recommend for all cat lovers!
For more on The Cat From Outer Space, go to The Cat’s Meow
For more Disney films, go to A Carefree Holiday Suddenly Plunged Into Danger: The Moon-Spinners (1964)
For more aliens, go to Nothing Will Stop It! Nothing Can Stop the Blob!: The Blob (1958)