Cats in film: The purr-formances
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The cat's meow
Compared to their canine counterparts, cats have long had it rough in Tinseltown. While dogs get the action-adventure hero roles (think Rin Tin Tin, Lassie, Benji and Toto), parts for cats, more often than not, are on the dark side -- evil, cunning, sometimes satanic. Even in Disney films: Who can forget Lucifer, Cinderella's nemesis, or Aunt Sarah's trouble-making Siamese, Si and Am, in 1955's "Lady and the Tramp"?
"Dogs wants to please you, and cats really care less," said veteran trainer Larry Madrid of Birds and Animals Unlimited, who has enjoyed working with persnickety felines for films including "The Smurfs," "Marmaduke" and "Harry Potter."
"It's getting around the I-don't-really-care attitude; they train up really nice. It is positive reinforcement using food or a favorite toy. They leap better than dogs. They climb really well," he said. "When people actually see a well-trained cat, they are really amazed at it. And when you show them what they can do and how you can get them to do it, especially in front of the camera, to me that's an accomplishment."
In the animated "Puss in Boots," no such training was required, of course. Antonio Banderas provides the seductive voice for the leche-loving ladies' tomcat. The diminutive orange tabby can swash and buckle with the bravest of swordsmen while still going for laughs -- starting with his first hairball cough in 2004's "Shrek 2," where he was befriended by Shrek, Fiona and Donkey. With the recent arrival of this kitty, here's a tribute to a handful of feline films and stars -- live and animated -- who have provided cinematic catnip.
-- Susan King, with Emily Christianson, Noelene Clark, Nate Jackson, Todd Martens, Jevon Phillips and Nardine Saad