Dedications: My four late friends Rory, Stan, Bryan, Jeff - shine on you crazy diamonds, they would have blogged too. Then theres Garry from Brisbane, Franco in Milan, Mike now in S.F. / my '60s-'80s gang: Ned & Joseph in Ireland; in England: Frank, Des, Guy, Clive, Joe & Joe, Ian, Ivan, Nick, David, Les, Stewart, the 3 Michaels / Catriona, Sally, Monica, Jean, Ella, Anne, Candie / and now: Daryl in N.Y., Jerry, John, Colin, Martin and Donal.

Sunday, 13 July 2014


THE THREE LIVES OF THOMASINA, 1963. If you like orange or marmalade cats you will be in seventh heaven watching Thomasina as she tells us about her first three lives in this Disney classic, with a great cast of British players. Ably directed by Don Chaffey (who also did GREYFRIARS BOBBY and JASON AND THE ARGONAUTS in a long career) from a Paul Gallico story, and set in some idyllic Scottish highland scenery, we watch Thomasina with Karen Dotrice as Mary, who lives with her widowed father, Patrick McGoohan, a no-nonsense vet, as we see when he brusquely puts old Nora Nicholson’s dog to sleep. 
Thomasina gets injured too and as father is busy saving a guide dog’s life he has no time to tend to the cat, who seemingly dies too. The children give it a proper funeral in the glen, but they do not know Lori McGregor, the local “witch” (Susan Hampshire) with that cottage in the wood where she heals and tends sick animals, discovers Thomasina just in time ….. 
Thomasina gets well but knows she belongs somewhere else – we also get her journey to Cat Heaven before she returns to her new life; meanwhile Mary blames her father for killing her pet and refuses all contact with him, even when he brings a delightful puppy home. Jean Anderson is the family housekeeper, and Laurence Naismith the local priest and there is also Finlay Currie, Wilfrid Brambell, Rita Webb and Francis De Wolff as the dastardly circus owner who neglects his animals. Things come to a climax one stormy night as Thomasina just has to return to her former home as wee Mary is very ill from pneumonia, and the cat has to go to the father who can return her to his daughter. 
There won’t be a dry eye in the house by this stage, but all is resolved as the happy new family, with Thomasina too of course sit around the dinner table. 
Matthew Gerber scores too as Mary’s friend who takes his frog with a broken leg to the witch to cure it – he and Karen Dotrice went into MARY POPPINS next, (what a shame he died aged 21). 
Thomasina is a screen natural, even when dressed up and wearing a bonnet -  how on earth did they train her? The cat’s thoughts are voiced by Elspeth March. 

This is a Disney classic for all ages, and another of those nice early '60s ones like SWISS FAMILY ROBINSON, DARBY O'GILL AND THE LITTLE PEOPLE, THIRD MAN ON THE MOUNTAIN, POLLYANNA and the afore-mentioned GREYFRIARS BOBBY. I can't though seem to find his 1965 one THE FIGHTING PRINCE OF DONEGAL with his MOONSPINNERS star Peter McEnery and Susan Hampshire again, its a fond memory. 

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