There aren’t too many movies out there where a cat is the star, let alone one where a cat-loving man is featured prominently. Rhubarb, originally released in 1951, is a tale about a cat, an eccentric millionaire, and a baseball team. Rhubarb stars “Orangey”, a cat whose most famous role was “Cat” in “Breakfast at Tiffany’s.”
The plot of the film revolves around a baseball team owner, T.J. Banner, who admires the spunk of an orange tabby he sees fetching golf balls on a golf course. One of Banner’s employees, Eric Yaeger, decides he must capture the cat and give him to his boss. Rather than the cat becoming sad about this turn of events, it turns out the cat and Mr. Banner get along quite well – Banner manages to spoil the cat completely without trying to change his nature. He names the cat Rhubarb after a baseball term. If Rhubarb likes a person, Mr. Banner does too. After Mr. Banner passes away, he leaves his fortune to the cat (and not his daughter, who the cat hated). He names Eric as the cat’s caretaker.
At first the baseball team, the Brooklyn Loons, doesn’t react well to being “owned by a cat.” But Eric convinces them that Rhubarb is a good-luck charm. Rhubarb goes to all the games and the team starts winning, the players hitting home runs after petting Rhubarb.
But wait! The plot thickens! You see, Eric’s fiance seems to be allergic to Rhubarb and several times when they try to get married a kerfluffle involving Rhubarb and the baseball team manages to interfere. Then Banner’s daughter tries to sue for the rights to the will, claiming the actual cat was replaced by a different cat. Well, it turns out the fiance isn’t allergic to all cats, JUST Rhubarb, and she saves the day in court by definitely proving that Rhubarb is, in fact, Rhubarb. Banner’s daughter then tries to have the cat rubbed out by a gangster, but that fails, too, when Eric figures out the location of the cat with the help of the police and his sensitive-nosed fiance.
But what of love – can it prevail with this cat allergy and the fact that Eric and Rhubarb are bound together by fortune and baseball luck? It turns out – spoiler alert! – that the fiance isn’t allergic to Rhubarb after all, but to a vicuna fur he’d been sitting on. Rhubarb manages to make his way back to the baseball field after the foiled cat-napping, the team wins (go Brooklyn!!), the lovers are married, and Rhubarb goes on to sire oodles of kittens.