- Date: November 21, 1942
- Type: Movie
A Tale of Two Kitties is an American Merrie Melodies cartoon, released in 1942, notable for the first appearance of a flesh colored canary, who would come to be known as Tweety. It was directed by Bob Clampett, written by Warren Foster, and features music by Carl W. Stalling. It was also the first appearance of Babbit and Catstello, based on the popular comedy duo Abbott and Costello. The title is an obvious pun on the Charles Dickens classic, A Tale of Two Cities.
It is one of many a.a.p.-owned cartoons to fall in the public domain, as United Artists did not renew the copyright in time. It is one of the rejuvenated cartoons released to DVD commercially on Looney Tunes Golden Collection: Volume 5.
Even in this initial appearance, Tweety reveals early on that his cute appearance masks a willingness to be merciless, even sadistic, towards anyone who threatens him. After slipping one of the cats a bomb which explodes (offscreen), the bird remarks, "Aw, da poor putty tat - he cwushed his widdow head!" Followed by a big grin. (This line was patterned after a catchphrase from a Red Skelton character, and would be used in other Warner cartoons, such as Easter Yeggs.)
The bird was unnamed in the short, although at the time the staff called it "Orson". This is one of the few Tweety shorts that did not feature his main antagonist Sylvester the Cat; at that time, Sylvester was cast as a prototype (as seen in the 1941 short Notes to You) and would not make his official debut until 1945, in Life with Feathers.
"A Tale of Two Kitties" is notable for an early reference to the middle finger, with a direct shot at the movie industry's censorship bureau. Babbitt said to Catstello, "Give me the bird! Give me the bird!" Catstello broke the fourth wall and said to the audience, "If the Hays Office would only let me, I'd give him the bird, all right!"