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Favorite Tom & Jerry cartoon(s)

Discussion in 'MGM' started by Dave Koch, Nov 3, 2013.

  1. Dave Koch

    Dave Koch Cartoon Admin

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    I thought I would try to inject a little life back into the MGM page, seeing how no one else has posted to it in nearly a month.

    Anyway, what is your favorite MGM T&J cartoon and why? There are no wrong answers here, folks... so let 'er rip!

    I'll start with my top 5 personal favorites:


    1. Yankee Doodle Mouse:

    Everything in this cartoon clicks: the inventive music score by Scott Bradley (interpolating the WWI standard, Over There) and the razor-sharp timing and break-neck pace of the gags (particularly the opening sequence when Tom chases Jerry into the basement and gets pummeled non-stop with everything but the kitchen sink). My favorite scene is when Tom fires the Roman candle and the little "sparks" chase Jerry through the garden hose and inside the basement walls; that scene just crackles with energy!

    2. Part-Time Pal:

    This is a fascinating cartoon in that it just reveals another layer to the complex relationship of this cat and mouse; with Jerry doing all he can to protect an inebriated Tom from the wrath of Mammy Two-Shoes. My favorite scenes are when Tom raids the icebox (the music underscore here is particularly effective) and when he attempts to rouse M2S from her slumber with a pitcher of water.

    3. Cat Fishin':

    This my all-time favorite in terms of pacing, gags and personality animation. I was so enthralled with the music score for this cartoon (with its shades of Vaughn-Williams and Gershwin) when I was a kid that I actually taped the soundtrack off-the-air and would constantly play it back on my brother's audio system. My favorite scenes are the establishing shot (very atmospheric) after the opening titles, and the progressive deconstruction of Spike as he is unwittingly dragged off the pier and through the pond by Tom.

    4. Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Mouse:

    What's interesting about this cartoon is that a lot of the "horror" scenes are played more-or-less "straight". Scott Bradley's music contributes greatly to Jerry's transformation scenes. Excellent use of shadows and stark lighting.

    5. Heavenly Puss:

    This cartoon is markedly different from the other T&J cartoons that were released the same year (1949). There is a strong fantasy element here. Everything in this cartoon is top-notch; the animation, the personality delineation, the music, the lighting effects, etc. This is one cartoon that you can look at without seeing the opening titles and say that it is an MGM production--because the production values are so high. Compare this cartoon with Tennis Chumps (1949) and you'll see the difference: the gags are softer, the emphasis is more on story and personality. My favorite scene is Tom's desperation as time begins to run out and his frantic attempts to persuade Jerry to sign the "certificate of forgiveness" that will enable Tom to enter the pearly gates and escape eternal hellfire.

    -------------------------

    "I'd like to cover you with furs and automobiles!"
  2. oneuglybunny

    oneuglybunny Moderator Staff Member Forum Member

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    Tom and Jerry were at the top of their game while Joe Barbera and the late Bill Hanna were directing them. The later Gene Deitch and Will Snyder counterfeits make me cringe. Even the Chuck Jones and Abe Levitow versions fail to recapture the nuances of the cat / mouse dynamic.

    Oneuglybunny has almost every Tom and Jerry release: Whiskers Away, Wild & Wacky Adventures, Greatest Chases, Spotlight Collections One and Two, Tom and Jerry the Movie, and Tom and Jerry and the Magic Ring. Clearly, I'm a big Tom and Jerry devotée, and I'm sorely pressed to single out particulars. Here goes anyway:

    1. The Flying Cat - Absolutely ingenious! Tom gains the ability to fly, and pursues both Jerry Mouse and that little yellow bird. And that flight music has to be the happiest scoring I've ever heard! Gorgeous gags, too. Unbeatable humor after Tom crashes into the mailbox: little flying cats circle his head. Out of ten stars, this one scores a twelve.

    2. The Cat and the Mermouse - Ultimately a delirium sequence, having a cat explore an underwater world is magnificent! Though Tom pursues the mermouse for most of the short, at the end, the mermouse tries mightily to pull Tom free of a malicious octopus's grasp. This is where all the later directors go wrong: right from Puss Gets the Boot, Tom intends only to tease and torment Jerry Mouse, rarely meaning to cause bloodshed or death. Their relationship isn't hateful, it's more like sibling rivalry, which is why they can form a partnership when the need arises (The Tot Watchers, for instance). Notice how this short ends with Jerry resuscitating Tom, having apparently rescued him from drowning.

    3. Puss Gets the Boot - The debut for Jasper and Jinx, who would later be renamed Tom and Jerry. This is our introduction to the cat and the mouse, and defines who they are and how they interact. The chemistry is there, as are the "sets" and the scoring, and theater audiences ate it up and clamored for more.

    4. Push Button Kitty - I've chosen this for no better reason than it portrays Tom purely as the victim. He starts out as a comfortable, contented house cat ... then suddenly, he's an obsolete discard. In one horrible minute, his whole life threw snake eyes, and his future went bankrupt. "It's progress," Mammy tells him, and Tom nods as though he understands. [see attachment] But the look in his eyes says he can't understand: "Why me? Why now? Why all at once?" And just like that, poor Tom is a nowhereling.
    [​IMG]

    5. The Night Before Christmas - One of their early works, and the first to show Tom has a conscience. Yes, the cat chases the mouse ... and rescues him from a snowdrift. True, the mouses pummels the cat with a boxing glove ... and prevents the cat from getting his tongue caught in a mousetrap.

    Obviously, there is a tremendous range to these characters, and in the masterful hands of their creators, Tom and Jerry became the comedy team of an era. Earlier, ZavKram and I kicked about some analyses of The Karateguard. It had Joe Barbera writing the gags, and it stayed largely on-model with the characters ... but it lacked the warmth and the subtlety that the late William Hanna lent to his productions.

    Pardon me for saying this, but any present-day attempt to resurrect the Tom and Jerry duo will not give us the beloved cat and mouse we remember; instead, we will see only two zombies going through the motions. Far better would be original characters that come without the nostalgic baggage. But that's just my ugly head roaring.
  3. saltyboot

    saltyboot A Moderating Moderator Staff Member Forum Member

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    These are my favs:

    Yankee Doodle Mouse
    Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Mouse
    Heavenly Puss
    The Cat Concerto
    The Night Before Christmas

    The music and action/gags compliment each other very well.
  4. Bmode

    Bmode Moderator Staff Member I SUPPORT BCDB! Forum Member New Member

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    Solid Serenade, the power of song wins me over.
  5. Glowworm

    Glowworm Moderator Staff Member I SUPPORT BCDB!

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    I concur with Solid Serenade--That one's a downright classic. The entire scene of Tom crooning to Toodles "Is you is or is you ain't my baby?" is pure magic, not to mention catchy. I felt this short was the best use of giving Tom a voice--as this one fits him perfectly--especially when he tricks Spike into chasing the stick. Yet, it's not just the song that is so good--it's the gags--the timing of each one is perfect--Tom unwittingly romancing Spike, Tom smacking Spike in the head with a brick, Tom getting his head caught in the window and making that weird sound--not to mention the bit where Tom thinks he's won and goes inside the doghouse letting out an evil laugh--only for Jerry to lead Spike inside, and Spike letting out an evil laugh.

    I have a few others as well.

    "Johann Mouse" I love Johann Strauss II's music--it's downright gorgeous. This short is charming in a storybook way--Tom can play the piano fantastically and Jerry is quite the dancer.

    "A Puppy's Tail"--What can I say? That puppy is adorable, and the story is rather sweet without overdoing it. It's good to see Tom actually has a conscious and searches in the rain for Jerry and the puppy, who have to save him in the end.

    "Mice Follies" My favorite Jerry and Nibbles short-- the idea of flooding the kitchen to transform it into a skating rink is brilliant--not to mention using the Sleeping Beauty waltz and jello for colored spotlights.

    "Baby Puss" I'll admit, I used to hate this one, because I found it rather to be a rather cruel short for Tom, being dressed up like a baby and made fun of by the other cats. However, the truth is, I've warmed up to it because it's actually quite funny. The scene with Jerry in the dollhouse bathtub bathing--and smacking a peeping Tom with a tiny brush is hilarious. However the highlight for me has to be the musical sequence of "Mamãe eu quero" as the cats sing and dance--and of course abuse the heck out of Tom--the best being Meathead(the red headed cat) "innocently" rubbing a hanger against Tom's whiskers while Butch flat out uses the poor cat as a musical instrument. Also, the castor oil scene at the end is great.

    "Mouse Trouble" another one I had to warm up to--as a middle schooler I found it kind of violent, but it's definitely a classic. I love the part where Tom is inside a box dressed as a present and Jerry sticks pins and knives in it--finally sawing the box in half and becoming disturbed at what he sees inside. Oh, and that windup doll--funny stuff.

    "Jerry's Cousin" Don't mess with Jerry's cousin. Amusing that Jerry actually has to call for backup on this one since he usually gets the best of Tom anyway, but it is fun to see Muscles beat the crap out of Tom, especially the part where Muscles blows the bullets out of Tom's gun into his eyes and then proceeds to whack him with a hammer. Ouch! Also, those three cats Tom calls in--got to love how their tails bounce up and down to the music.

    "Tom and Jerry at the Hollywood Bowl" Again a good mixture of Tom, Jerry and classical music.

    "Jerry and the Goldfish"-- I just find something rather charming about Jerry befriending and saving the goldfish from Tom trying to eat it.

    "Jerry and Jumbo" The "Giant mouse" bits have me in stitches.
    Last edited: Nov 23, 2013
  6. Bmode

    Bmode Moderator Staff Member I SUPPORT BCDB! Forum Member New Member

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    Oh, and I forgot about Pecos Pest! Crambone!
  7. Yowp

    Yowp Apprentice Forum Member New Member

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    I can't pick a "favourite." There are two great scenes of Tom singing I can watch over and over. One has already been mentioned, the Ken Muse animation in "Solid Serenade." The other is Tom crooning to the lady cat in "Texas Tom" (which, I believe is by Ray Patterson). Tom has a nice variety of expressions and Joe Barbera (and perhaps an anonymous writer) fits in gags during the singing.
    "Mouse in Manhattan" is one I enjoy a lot, but maybe it's overlooked because it's really a Jerry cartoon.
    Anything with self-pitying ducks and little mice is off my list. And by the time Cinemascope rolled around, the series had scene better days.

    Yowp
    Yowp
    Tralfaz
  8. Bmode

    Bmode Moderator Staff Member I SUPPORT BCDB! Forum Member New Member

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    Just FYI, that song played in Mouse in Manhattan is Tommy Dorsey's "Manhattan Serenade", made famous by Jo Stafford.
  9. oneuglybunny

    oneuglybunny Moderator Staff Member Forum Member

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    My compliments to BMode for remembering "Solid Serenade." Some folks have wondered what Tom and Jerry would have been like had Fred "Tex" Avery directed them. Looking at "Solid Serenade" and "Puttin' On The Dog", I cannot honestly say that Tex Avery didn't have a strong hand in these cartoons, among others. Anybody could have scripted Jerry Mouse throwing a convenient meringue pie at Tom to make him shut up. I dare you to tell me that Tex Avery didn't suggest adding the steam iron to the pie before Jerry threw it. *ping* No, no, Bill Hanna and Joe Barbera and Fred Avery were too closely allied as friends and coworkers that Avery's influence had to bleed across to the Tom and Jerry cartoons, despite producer Quimby's segregation.
  10. Trailblazer

    Trailblazer Apprentice Forum Member New Member

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    New guy here!

    I just wanted to put in my two cents for "Carmen Get It!" which features music from the opera "Carmen". Not that I know a thing about opera. I haven't seen this one in years, actually.

    "I'm Just Wild About Jerry" which Chuck Jones did. The scene where Tom catches the vase and has a smug grin on his face doesn't last when the bowling ball falls and...well, just see it.

    I only have the "Spotlight Collection" without these cartoons. I mistakenly thought "Puss Gets The Boot", the first Tom and Jerry cartoon with Tom named Jasper, was on this two disc set. That's another favorite. Hopefully I will find the right DVD someday with all of these.
  11. Bmode

    Bmode Moderator Staff Member I SUPPORT BCDB! Forum Member New Member

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    I just saw Tee for Two, man this one is fast passed and incredibly timed, much like in the style of Tex Avery as John suggests above. The golf swing sound effect is right in rhythm with the music making it quite percussive. Honorable Mention for sure on my list.
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  12. Zavkram

    Zavkram Moderator Staff Member I SUPPORT BCDB! Forum Member New Member

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    You know, Dave... I burst out laughing just now when I read the initial post in this thread. I was impressed with your comments about the five cartoons listed and I was thinking to myself, "Wow, Dave likes these cartoons for the exact same reasons I do.." and then, suddenly, I realized: "Wait a minute, this is one of my previous threads from the old forum!" It was the description of "Cat Fishin'" that I recognized as my own... Man, I must have posted that, what, 7 years ago? I had failed to see my old signature at the bottom. Thanks for moving it over here!

    To my original list, above, I'll add the following:

    "The Night Before Christmas"

    I had a chance to see this particular cartoon a number of times this holiday season and I've grown to appreciate it all the more for it. This was the first cartoon in the long-running series to explore the complicated relationship between the two protagonists. In the recently-restored version for Blu-Ray the colors in this cartoon just pop. Hanna-Barbera had pulled out all the stops for this production with regard to layouts and backgrounds. The story manages to be cute and not overtly sentimental. My favorite scene is when Jerry attempts to sidetrack Tom by holding up some mistletoe.

    "The Cat and the Mermouse"

    Another T&J cartoon with a strong fantasy element; the action takes place almost entirely underwater. Al Grandmain receives animator credit on this and "Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Mouse". I can't confirm whether or not he was responsible for all of bubble effects in this cartoon or for the heavy use of shadows in the latter. This, like "Heavenly Puss" was also released in 1949 and also boasts a masterful Scott Bradley score.

    "Designs On Jerry"

    I have to admit that my truly favorite T&J cartoons come from the mid-to-late 40's. Starting around '52 or '53 there are already signs that the series is becoming more streamlined and predictable. This entry, however, shows much imagination and wit. Here, Tom attempts to build the proverbial "better mousetrap" ( a Rube Goldberg-like contraption that defies all logic but is fun to watch in action). The bulk of the action takes place on Tom's drawing board while he catches 20 winks: Jerry and Tom are depicted as simple stick figures but with no less personality than their "flesh-and-blood" counterparts.

    "The Little Orphan"

    Here's another T&J cartoon that whenever I watch it seems to epitomize everything I normally associate with a great MGM cartoon: just the right amount of sentimentality that manages not to be too cloying, deft handling of animation, gags, and timing.

    It's been discussed on other forums how MGM, for a number of years, had brought a lot of influence to bear on the nomination process for the Academy Awards ceremony; but I think that this particular cartoon was fully deserving of its Oscar.
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  13. Zavkram

    Zavkram Moderator Staff Member I SUPPORT BCDB! Forum Member New Member

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    OUB: while it's obvious from watching the T&J cartoons, from 1942 onward, that Tex Avery had exerted an influence on the timing and outrageous gags; I have never heard or read anything to the effect that Avery actually suggested gags or story lines to Hanna-Barbera while they were at MGM. It seems more likely that H-B drew inspiration simply from seeing the cartoons when they were shown to Fred Quimby and the rest of the cartoon staff. I could be wrong though.

    I had read somewhere that Avery may have been jealous and even resentful about the fact that H-B were the apparent apple of Quimby's eye. It has been said that Avery would hide anything he was sketching whenever H or B walked past. If he was resentful, however, he must have kept it to himself; because decades later he finished out his long career by working for his old colleagues (at their invitation) on a segment for one of their Saturday morning series.
  14. oneuglybunny

    oneuglybunny Moderator Staff Member Forum Member

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    Going by his biography A Cast Of Friends, Bill Hanna states that Fred "Tex" Avery and Joe Barbera and himself were close friends, and often got together outside the studio for some good-ol'-boy breeze-shootin'. Again, from the same source, Hanna recalls that only Avery and Hanna had vehicles, and would routinely carpool themselves and other animators to and from MGM studios. There was favoritism by Fred Quimby toward Hanna and Barbera: multiple sources confirm this. But as far as I can research, Avery had no animosity toward Bill and Joe. If anything, animosity would be directed at the humorless, penny-pinching, segregationist Quimby.

    There probably is no sure way to ascertain how much Fred Avery influenced the Tom and Jerry cartoons. However, despite Quimby's efforts to segregate the H-B unit from the Avery unit, the camaraderie of these three animation enthusiasts practically guarantees bleed-through of creativity.
  15. Pokey J.Anti-Blockhead

    Pokey J.Anti-Blockhead Intern Forum Member New Member

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    Glowworm's right on about her last choice.."Jerry and Jumbo"..Tom gets a very funny "giant Jerry reaction to the elephants!
  16. MrCleveland

    MrCleveland Inbetweener Forum Member New Member

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    So many options...I think my favorite T&J Cartoon would be "The Night Before Christmas".

    I have a soft-spot for Tom, and his conscious gets the best of him in this cartoon...it seems that though Jerry kicks him around, Tom DOES care for Jerry!
  17. jpickens

    jpickens Newbie New Member

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    Tall In The Trap Switchin Kitten and Dicky Moe.

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