Films to Love: Room For One More


The film I selected to write about today deals with a theme near and dear to my heart. Furthermore, it heralds an announcement here at Whiskers On Kittens.

Room For One More is a 1952 black and white film starring real life husband and wife, Cary Grant and Betsy Drake. The movie is based on a true story about a New Jersey couple- Poppy and Mother Rose- with three children of their own who ended up taking three more troubled foster children into their home. While the real Roses fostered three children, in the movie it’s only two. It all starts at a PTA meeting where Mother hears about the foster program and the large numbers of adolescent children who never find permanent homes because people want to adopt babies and toddlers in order to raise and mold their character. Heartbroken for the plight of these children, Mother agrees to a two week trial for a thirteen year old girl, Jane. Jane has been passed around in the foster system. Although her mother and father are very much alive, they are divorced. Her mother remarried and didn’t want to have her around anymore. Jane has endured physical and emotional abuse, and like an abused animal, she lashes out at those people who would help her.

Mother and Poppy take her in for those two weeks, seeing very little improvement in her temperament. However, when the time comes for her to return to the orphanage, Jane begs to stay. While Mother would agree, it’s Poppy who needs to be convinced. While Jane throws her sobbing self into Mother’s arms and pleas to be allowed to stay, Poppy picks up her suitcase and heads back upstairs, a silent message that’s Jane is now part of the family.

Shortly thereafter, Mother is approached with another little boy- Jimmy John- who has been in and out of hospitals all his life because of a chronic condition in his legs which requires him to wear heavy leg braces. Poppy puts his foot down and goes to the school where Jimmy John lives to tell the headmaster that he and his wife will not be taking in another child. However, when he sees the loveless environment the boy is in coupled with the ridicule and lack of compassion displayed for his handicap, Poppy brings the boy home.

The adjustment with Jimmy John is difficult. He’s petulant and sometimes violent. When he fails at something- which is a lot- he has bursts of tempers and breaks things. Mother and Poppy’s children don’t like him. However, when it’s time to take Jimmy John back, he begs to let the children vote as to whether or not he can stay with the family. The kids decide to do a anonymous vote where they write leave or stay on a pieces of paper. They all right leave and hand the papers to Jimmy John. But, Jimmy John can’t read. This fact softens the hearts of the Rose children and they read out the votes as stay, even though what is written is quite the opposite. This sets in motion a string of events that welcomes Jimmy John into the family as one of their own. In the end, he achieves some truly amazing feats because he has a family standing behind him that believes in him.

At the start of the film, before Jane or Jimmy John join the ranks of the Rose family, we are already given a taste of the sort of family they are. Poppy is in the kitchen making the frosting for his youngest son’s birthday cake while his kids are monitoring the birth of kittens under the stove and welcoming in a stray dog off the street. In the Rose household, the door is always open and there is always room for one more.

Which brings me to my announcement. If you have ever perused Whiskers’ homepage, then you have had your introduction to our feline family. Each member found their way to our house, usually malnourished, boney, and flea ridden. There’s Geordie MacPuff, Thane of Cottontown, who rresides over the other cats, but mostly he avoids them by hiding in my brother’s bedroom which we affectionately call Geordie’s Fortress of Solitude. Then there are Clawdius, Purrseus, and the Lady Fiona. These three are from the same litter. Clawdius is our resident Casanova; he’s never passed up a lap to lavish in and he loves kisses. Purrseus is our most chill dude of a cat. He likes to lounge about, and when he meows, he really does sound like he’s saying hello. The Lady Fiona is chiefly my mother’s cat; she sleeps in her bedroom and follows her around. She’s sleek and gray all over, including her paws. Then there’s Zucchini who is the cat I used in the banner art for Whiskers On Kittens. She is the most independent of our cats, liking her time alone, but she’s not antisocial, she just thinks she’s a person. She sleeps with me and adores pets; she will even wake me up in the middle of the night if she feels that it’s been too long since her last one. She’s very affectionate. Our final cat is Idgy, named for Idgy in Fannie Flagg’s Southern classic Fried Green Tomatoes. She earned that moniker when we saw her out in the backyard chasing bumble bees; she’s Idgy the Bee Charmer.

The other week, something happened, though. My husband and I had put all the cats in their respective beds- Clawdius, Purrseus, and Idgy are kennel trained and sleep there at night. Geordie was in for the night as was Fiona. Zucchini was curled up at the foot of our bed on my husband’s side. All cats were accounted for. But, as I was turning out the light in the kitchen, I heard a mewing at the backdoor. I turned on the dining room light and there, sitting in front of the sliding glass door, was the mangiest little bag of bones I have seen in a while.

Without an ounce of protest, my husband opened the door and invited this gangly little black and white cat inside. After a clean bill of health from the vet and a flea bath, we’ve welcomed another member into this home. You see, here at Maison de Ritznore, there’s also room for one more.

Meet Longshanks.

This name held a bit of contention at first as I wanted it to be Ramses, for the sheer delight of lifting him into the air and proclaiming: My name is Ozymandias, Cat of Cats. However, Ramses didn’t set with anyone else. Besides Longshanks fit.

Longshanks has- wait for it- long shanks. As I mentioned, he’s a gangly fellow, who wobbles a bit when he walks. Perhaps another name that would have worked for him is Slinky. He’s very bendable, or rather, flexible. When I pick him up, he molds into me and begins purring as loud as a bandsaw.

According to our vet, he’s approximately nine months old which means there’s time for him to grow into his long shanks.

Longshanks is also bold as brass, which fits with his name if you’ll remember your history. And while there are times we see him curled up somewhere asleep, with his paw covering his face, we’re pretty certain his cogitations aren’t the likes of his predecessor. While history’s Longshanks might consider such matters as the problem with Scotland is that it’s full of Scots, our Longshanks restricts his thoughts to when his next bowl of food will arrive, where he batted his stuffed mouse, or where the red dot went. He’s an easy going little guy.

In the movie Room For One More, there’s a scene when Jane sits down to her first meal with the Roses. While they are eating at their leisure, Jane is scarfing down food and taking seconds and thirds as though she’s never had a full stomach in her life. It’s heart wrenching as you see without words what this young girl has had to endure. We have a similar story with Longshanks.

Oddly enough, when he first came to us, he did not eat a lot. We think it was because for the first day or two he was getting used to all his shots. He slept a lot the first two days. However, on the third day, he was cozied up beside me on the couch. I was eating chips. I let him sniff one and he snatched it out of my hand and wolfed it down. He did the same with a piece of lettuce. Having rescued six cats previously, none of whom exhibited such tendencies, we were left with the conclusion that Longshanks had been foraging for so long, he didn’t even know that kibble was the food that he really wanted. So, we got some wet food and kitten kibble. It’s taken some time, but we’ve weaned him onto cat food now. He’s growing more and more each day- a thing which my husband, who’s shipped out, is having me document for him.

As the name for this blog was largely inspired by the fact that I have rescue cats, I wanted to give our newest member a worthy introduction. But, before I did that, he needed time to settle in and we needed time to get know each other. Now he’s one of the Ritznores and we couldn’t be more thrilled with this little purrball.

Perhaps that’s what I love the most about the movie Room For One More. The Roses are rescuers, and I completely understand that.

Any rescuers out there? Please, tell your story. I know I’d love to hear it.