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It's Raining Cats and Dogs

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My Dog Tulip
Boxing Cats
Hold It!
Miss Dundee and Her Performing Dogs
Uninvited
Dog Shy
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If recent evidence is to be believed, the public has an insatiable appetite for watching movies of cats and dogs simply doing cat and dog stuff. Use the Internet these days and you’ll invariably stumble upon a clip of some adorable pooch running in circles or a confused cat stuck in a pickle jar. What is it about our feline and canine friends that their every action never fails to fascinate and entertain, no matter how mundane?

Although cat and dog videos have proliferated over the past decade thanks to the YouTube generation, this is not solely a recent phenomenon. Dogs and cats have interested filmmakers as subjects for more than a century, inspiring many wonderful movies. Consider this: Alice Guy filmed Miss Dundee and Her Performing Dogs all the way back in 1902, long before the lure of Internet infamy and lucrative dog food sponsorships prompted every pet owner to pick up a camera. Since those early days, pet videos have practically become their own film genre (don’t believe us, just ask the organizers of the Internet Cat Video Festival—it actually exists). With that in mind, we’ve pulled together eight diverse films (four on each species to be impartial) that celebrate cats, dogs and the people who love them.

My Dog Tulip

(2009) directed by Paul Fierlinger, 81 minutes

“Unable to love each other, the English turn naturally to dogs,” J.R. Ackerley once wryly observed, and though he was speaking generally, such a statement was undoubtedly personal. For it was with an Alsatian bitch named Tulip that the esteemed British writer finally found the loyal friend he had been searching for his whole life. As with any great love affair, Ackerley and Tulip have a complex and at times tempestuous relationship filled with ups and downs, moments of joy and frustrating challenges. But, as most dog lovers can attest, unconditional love knows no bounds. Featuring the voices of screen icons Christopher Plummer, Lynn Redgrave and Isabella Rossellini, My Dog Tulip is a heart-warming tale that chronicles Ackerley and Tulip’s sixteen-year relationship with great humor and honesty.

Boxing Cats

(1894) directed by William K.L. Dickson, 1 minute

Cat fight! During the vaudeville era, the dubiously named Professor Welton (we’re going to need to see a diploma, please) operated a popular cat circus where felines performed a spectacular medley of stunts, like riding bicycles, walking through fire (!) and, yes, a boxing match or two. Early film pioneers William Dickson and William Heise captured one such bout and thus gave birth to what may be the world’s first cat video.

Hold It!

(1938) directed by Dave Fleischer, 7 minutes

A peaceful night in the suburbs devolves into all-out mayhem thanks to a gang of rabble-rousing cats. After being tossed out of their homes (for misbehaving no doubt), all the usual suspects assemble in the moonlight for singing, dancing and other kitty cat shenanigans led by a finger waving MC. High on cat nip and adrenaline, the cats soon discover a more entertaining pastime: tormenting a poor neighborhood pooch who’s just trying to get some shut eye. Rude!

Miss Dundee and Her Performing Dogs

(1902) directed by Alice Guy-Blaché, 3 minutes

You can’t teach an old dog new tricks? Nobody told Miss Dundee, who makes Cesar Milan look like a second rate hack. Give this woman a leotard, a wand and a stepladder and she’ll have your dog doing acrobatics in no time. In this four minute short, her fleet of well-behaved dogs perform a variety of impressive tricks concluding with a little skit that sees one dog play dead while another, dressed in a habit, bows her head to say a prayer for the departed.

Uninvited

(1988) directed by Greydon Clark, 90 minutes

Like the Alanis Morissette song of the same name, this outrageous horror film will lodge itself into the deepest crevices of your brain and refuse to leave. After escaping from a Florida research laboratory, a fluffy orange cat with the ability to mutate into a grotesque monster makes its way aboard a yacht owned by a millionaire mobster. It isn’t long before the bloodthirsty kitty is slaughtering the ship’s passengers left and right. Can no one stop this devious creature?

Dog Shy

(1926) directed by Leo McCarey, 23 minutes

Charley Chase’s irrational fear of dogs is central to the plot of this slapstick farce directed by Leo McCarey. Afraid “of anything that barked or yelped” since he was a child, Charley avoids dogs like the plague. But when he’s hired as a butler for an aristocratic family, he’s tasked with caring for the family’s hyperactive mutt, affectionately named The Duke. Things get particularly hairy – and hilarious – when Charlie tries to give The Duke a bath in this classic gag-a-minute Chase two-reeler.