Regarding Mark Olsen's article on cats and dogs in film ["On-Screen? The Cat's Meow," May 10]: I was surprised he didn't mention a cult favorite, "A Boy and His Dog," starring Don Johnson in one of his first roles. The movie's plot — about a boy and his telepathic dog wandering a post-apocalyptic wasteland looking for food, shelter and water — is campy and wonderful, as is the surprise ending.
It's a great addition to anybody's collection of cheesy movies to watch on a dreary, rainy afternoon.
One of the best cat scenes occurs in the opening of "The Godfather." Legend has it that when the feline somehow got on to the set, director Francis Ford Coppola wanted to get rid of it, but star Marlon Brando convinced him otherwise. As Vito Corleone (Brando) strokes the cat, he carries on his nefarious business. The mixture of menace and innocence adds tension to the scene. When the cat jumps out of Brando's hands and strolls onto the table, Brando, without missing a beat, scoops it back into his hands and carries on talking, as if the cat had been his pet for years and not an animal he had just picked up a few minutes beforehand. Now, that's acting.
Olsen's list of famous films starring cats omits one of the best: "Harry and Tonto" (1974), in which Art Carney and his pet embark on a cross-country adventure. How many feline actors can claim their performance helped their human costar win a lead actor Oscar?
Paul Robert Coyle
'Perfect' return on investment
In regard to "'Perfect' Harmony" [May 10]: I had to laugh when I read about "Pitch Perfect."
The movie was made for $17 million and grossed $65 million, a nearly quadruple return on its investment. Amy Kaufman describes this as "only a modest box office success ... a healthy sum ... but not blockbuster money."
If I bought a house for $400,000, fixed it up for $100,000 and flipped it for $2 million, I wouldn't be thinking: "Gee, that wasn't very much." We have become a society where every venture expects a lottery-sized payoff. Kids think they are going to get rich if they just upload that one YouTube video that gets 100 million hits. If you have investments getting you a 10% return, you are a loser.
As the wealth gap increases, I expect this phenomenon to increase. God help us all (except the 0.01%).
Three-martini 'Mad Men' pitch
I'm a devoted fan of Mary McNamara, but I fear she was loopy from a three-martini lunch when she created her pitch promoting "Mad Men" as a vastly influential TV series ["Deep in Thought Over 'Mad Men,'" May 10].
Wacky enough was her claim that show runner Matthew Weiner "brought television writers into the spotlight." (Hello? Bochco, Milch, Cannell, Chase, Sorkin, Rhimes?) But this was the hardest sell: "'Mad Men' changed the world in many ways." The entertainment world, perhaps. But how about terror in the Mideast, violence and corruption in Mexico, starvation and genocide in large swaths of Africa, the economic and immigration crises in Europe, and on and on? Not so much effect, maybe.
Besotted with Hollywood and its endless products, we sometimes forget that the American entertainment industry and the culture it helps shape are not the big, wide world. Not even close.