Tom and Jerry is an American series of theatrical animated cartoon films created by William Hanna and Joseph Barbera for Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer, centering on a never-ending rivalry between a cat (Tom) and a mouse (Jerry) whose chases and battles often involved comic violence. Hanna and Barbera ultimately wrote and directed one hundred and fourteen Tom and Jerry shorts at the MGM cartoon studio in Hollywood, California between 1940 and 1957, when the animation unit was closed. The original series is notable for having won the Academy Award for Animated Short Film seven times, tying it with Walt Disney's Silly Symphonies as the theatrical animated series with the most Oscars. A longtime television staple, Tom and Jerry has a worldwide audience that consists of children, teenagers and adults, and has also been recognized as one of the most famous and longest-lived rivalries in American cinema. In 2000, TIME named the series one of the greatest television shows of all time.
Beginning in 1960, in addition to the original 114 H-B cartoons, MGM had new shorts produced by Rembrandt Films, led by Gene Deitch in Eastern Europe. Production of Tom and Jerry shorts returned to Hollywood under Chuck Jones's Sib-Tower 12 Productions in 1963; this series lasted until 1967, making it a total of 161 shorts. The cat and mouse stars later resurfaced in television cartoons produced by Hanna-Barbera and Filmation Studios during the 1970s, 1980s, and 1990s; a feature film, Tom and Jerry: The Movie, in 1992 (released domestically in 1993); and in 2001, their first made-for TV short, Tom and Jerry: The Mansion Cat for Boomerang. The most recent Tom and Jerry theatrical short, The Karate Guard, was written and co-directed by Barbera and debuted in Los Angeles cinemas on September 27, 2005.
Today, Time Warner (via its Turner Entertainment division) owns the rights to Tom and Jerry (with Warner Bros. handling distribution). Since the merger, Turner has produced the series, Tom and Jerry Tales for The CW's Saturday morning "The CW4Kids" lineup, as well as the recent Tom and Jerry short, The Karate Guard, in 2005 and a string of Tom and Jerry direct-to-video films — all in collaboration with Warner Bros. Animation. In February 2010, the cartoon celebrated its 70th anniversary and a DVD collection of 30 shorts, Tom and Jerry Deluxe Anniversary Collection, was released in late June 2010 to celebrate the animated duo's seventh decade. It then had a rerun on Cartoon Network.
Plot and format
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The series features comedic fights between an iconic set of enemies, a house cat and mouse. The plots of each short usually center on Tom's numerous attempts to capture Jerry and the mayhem and destruction that ensues. Since Tom rarely attempts to eat Jerry and because the pair actually seem to get along in some cartoon shorts, and they sometimes even put their differences aside whenever they have to, and it is sometimes unclear why Tom chases Jerry so much. Some reasons given may include normal feline/murine enmity, duty according to his owner, Jerry's attempt at ruining a task that Tom is entrusted with, Jerry eating Tom's master's food which Tom has been entrusted with safeguarding, revenge, Jerry saving other potential prey (such as ducks, canaries, or goldfish) from being eaten by Tom, competition with another cat, and Jerry ruining Tom's attempts to seduce feline femme fatales, which Jerry does either out of disgust, jealousy, or just to be mean. Despite the sometimes heavy amount of fantasy violence, most Tom and Jerry episodes now carry a TV-G rating, although it was originally rated TV-Y. Tom rarely succeeds in catching Jerry, mainly because of Jerry's cleverness, cunning abilities, and luck. Interestingly enough, many of the title cards show Tom and Jerry smiling at each other which seems to depict a love-hate relationship rather than the extreme annoyance each displays towards the other in each cartoon. There are also several instances within the cartoons where they display genuine friendship (e.g., Springtime for Thomas) and concern for each other's well-being (such as in "Jerry and the Lion", where Jerry in one instance tricks Tom into thinking that he has shot Jerry, and Tom comes running with the first aid kit). Other times the pair would have to set aside their rivalry in order to pursue a common goal, such as a baby who escaped the watch of a negligent teen babysitter, and both Tom and Jerry would need to pursue the baby and keep it away from danger.
The short episodes are infamous for some of the most comically gory gags ever devised in theatrical animation, such as Jerry slicing Tom in half, shutting his head in a window or a door, Tom using everything from axes, firearms, explosives, traps and poison to try to murder Jerry, Jerry stuffing Tom's tail in a waffle iron and a mangle, kicking him into a refrigerator, plugging his tail into an electric socket, pounding him with a mace, club or mallet, causing a tree or an electric pole to drive him into the ground, sticking matches into his feet and lighting them, tying him to a firework and setting it off, and so on. Despite all its popularity, Tom and Jerry has often been criticized as excessively violent.:42:134 Despite the frequent violence, there is no blood or gore in any scenes of the original cartoons, and neither of the pair are ever (seriously) injured. In a very rare instance, when Tom gets sliced into pieces in the opening credits of Tom and Jerry: The Movie, blood is clearly visible, and Heavenly Puss deals with Tom dying after being crushed by a piano, although later it is revealed to be a dream. A recurring gag involves Jerry hitting Tom when he's preoccupied, with Tom initially oblivious to the pain and only feeling the effects moments later, and vice versa; and another involves Jerry stopping Tom in mid-chase (as if calling for a time-out), before he does something, usually putting the hurt on Tom.
The cartoon is also noteworthy for its reliance on tropes, such as the blackening of characters following explosions and the use of heavy and enlarged shadows (e.g., Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Mouse). Resemblance to everyday objects and occurrences is arguably the main appeal of visual humor in the series. The characters themselves regularly transform into ridiculous but strongly associative shapes, most of the time involuntarily, in masked but gruesome ways.
Music plays a very important part in the shorts, emphasizing the action, filling in for traditional sound effects, and lending emotion to the scenes. Musical director Scott Bradley created complex scores that combined elements of jazz, classical, and pop music; Bradley often reprised contemporary pop songs, as well as songs from MGM films, including The Wizard of Oz and Meet Me In St. Louis. Generally, there is little dialogue as Tom and Jerry almost never speak; however, minor characters are not similarly limited, and the two lead characters are able to speak English on rare occasions and are thus not mute. For example, the character Mammy Two Shoes has lines in every episode in which she appears except The Little Orphan. Most of the dialogue from Tom and Jerry are the high-pitched laughs and gasping screams, which may be provided by a horn or other musical instrument.
Before 1954, all Tom and Jerry cartoons were produced in the standard Academy ratio and format; from late 1954 to 1955, some of the output was dually produced in both Academy format and the widescreen CinemaScope process. From 1956 until the close of the MGM cartoon studio a year later, all Tom and Jerry cartoons were produced in CinemaScope, some even had their soundtracks recorded in Perspecta directional audio. The 1960s Gene Deitch and Chuck Jones shorts were all produced in Academy format, but with compositions that made them compatible to be matted to Academy widescreen format as well. All of the Hanna and Barbera cartoons were produced in three-strip Technicolor; the 1960s entries were done in Metrocolor.
Tom Cat and Jerry Mouse
Tom (called "Jasper" in his debut appearance) is a blue and white domestic shorthair cat. He is the main protagonist of the story, who usually lives a pampered life, although they usually live in several lifestyles, while Jerry is a small brown house mouse who always lives in close proximity to him and is the deuteragonist of the story. "Tom" is a generic name for a male cat (The Warner Bros. cartoon character Sylvester was originally named Thomas). Tom was seen originally in the very first short, Puss Gets the Boot, and Jerry was seen in the short also, although it was not billed as a Tom and Jerry cartoon. Jerry possesses surprising strength for his size, lifting items such as anvils with relative ease and withstanding considerable impacts with them. Despite the typical cat-eats-mouse scenario, it is surprisingly quite rare for Tom to actually try and consume Jerry. Most of his attempts are just to torment or humiliate Jerry. Despite being very energetic and determined, Tom is no match for Jerry's brains and wits. By the final "fade-out" of each cartoon, Jerry usually emerges triumphant, while Tom is shown as the loser. However, other results may be reached; on rare occasions, Tom triumphs, usually when Jerry becomes the aggressor or when he crosses some sort of line (the best example of which occurs in The Million Dollar Cat where, after finding out that Tom's newly acquired wealth will be taken away if he harms any animal, including a mouse, he torments Tom until Tom finally loses his temper and attacks him). Sometimes, usually ironically, they both lose, usually when Jerry's last trap potentially backfires on him after it affects Tom (An example is in Chuck Jones' Filet Meow short where Jerry orders a shark to scare Tom away from eating a goldfish. Afterwards, the shark scares Jerry away as well) or when Jerry overlooks something at the end of the course. Sometimes, they both end up being friends (only for something to happen so that Tom will chase Jerry again). Both characters display sadistic tendencies, in that they are equally likely to take pleasure in tormenting each other. However, depending on the cartoon, whenever one character appears to be in mortal danger (in a dangerous situation or by a third party), the other will develop a conscience and save him. Sometimes, they bond over a mutual sentiment towards an unpleasant experience and their attacking each other is more play than serious attacks. Multiple shorts show the two getting along with minimal difficulty, and they are more than capable of working together when the situation calls for it, usually against a third party who manages to torture and humiliate them both. Sometimes this partnership is forgotten quickly when an unexpected event happens or when one character feels that the other is no longer necessary. (Example is when in Posse Cat, when Jerry decides to pretend to get chased by Tom in exchange for half his food. Tom agrees to this, but then he goes back on his word later.) Other times however, Tom does keep his promise to Jerry and the partnerships are not quickly disolved after the problem is solved.
Tom changes his love interest many times. The first love interest is Toots who appears in Puss n' Toots, and calls him "Tommy" in The Mouse Comes to Dinner. He is also interested in a cat called Toots in The Zoot Cat although she has a different appearance to the original Toots. The most frequent love interest of Tom's is Toodles Galore, who never has any dialogue in Tom and Jerry cartoons.
Despite five shorts ending with a depiction of Tom's apparent death, his demise is never permanent; he even reads about his own death in a flashback in Jerry's Diary. He appears to die in explosions in Mouse Trouble (after which he is seen in heaven) and in Yankee Doodle Mouse, while in The Two Mouseketeers he is guillotined offscreen.
Tom and Jerry speaking
Although many supporting and minor characters speak, Tom and Jerry rarely do so themselves. Tom, most famously, sings while wooing female cats; for example, Tom sings Louis Jordan's "Is You Is Or Is You Ain't My Baby" in the 1946 short Solid Serenade. In a couple of shorts, Tom, when romancing a female cat, woos her in a French-accented voice similar to that of screen actor Charles Boyer. At the end of The Million Dollar Cat after beginning to antagonize Jerry he says "Gee, I'm throwin' away a million dollars... BUT I'M HAPPY!" . In Tom and Jerry: The Magic Ring, Jerry says no,no,no,no,no when choosing the shop to remove his ring. In The Mouse Comes to Dinner Tom speaks to his girlfriend while inadvertently sitting on a stove: "Gee, what's cookin'?" (The girl replies "You are, stupid.") Another instance of speech comes in Solid Serenade and The Framed Cat, where Tom directs Spike through a few dog tricks in a dog-trainer manner. In Mouse Trouble, Tom says "Don't you believe it," after being beaten up by Jerry. Co-director William Hanna provided most of the squeaks, gasps, and other vocal effects for the pair, including the most famous sound effects from the series, Tom's leather-lunged scream (created by recording Hanna's scream and eliminating the beginning and ending of the recording, leaving only the strongest part of the scream on the soundtrack) and Jerry's nervous gulp. The only other reasonably common vocalization is made by Tom when some external reference claims a certain scenario or eventuality to be impossible, which inevitably, ironically happens to thwart Tom's plans - at which point, a bedraggled and battered Tom appears and says in a haunting, echoing voice "Don't you believe it!", a reference to some famous World War II propaganda shorts of the 1940s. In the 1946 short Trap Happy, Tom hires a mouse exterminator who, after several failed attempts to dispatch Jerry, changes profession to Cat exterminator by crossing out the "Mouse" on his title and writing "Cat", resulting in Tom spelling out the word out loud before reluctantly pointing at himself. One short, 1956's Blue Cat Blues, is narrated by Jerry in voiceover (voiced by Paul Frees) as they try to win back their ladyfriends. Both Tom and Jerry speak more than once in the 1943 short The Lonesome Mouse. Tom and Jerry: The Movie is the first (and so far only) installment of the series where the famous cat-and-mouse duo regularly speak.
Spike and Tyke
In his attempts to catch Jerry, Tom often has to deal with Spike (known as "Killer" in some episodes), an angry, vicious but extremely dumb guard bulldog who tries to attack Tom for bothering his son Tyke while trying to get Jerry. Originally Spike was unnamed and mute (aside from howls and biting noises) as well as attacking indiscriminately, not caring whether it was Tom or Jerry though usually attacking Tom. In later cartoons Spike spoke often, using a voice and expressions (performed by Billy Bletcher and later Daws Butler) modeled after comedian Jimmy Durante. Spike's coat has altered throughout the years between grey and creamy tan. The addition of Spike's son Tyke in the late 1940s led to both a slight softening of Spike's character and a short-lived spin-off theatrical series (Spike and Tyke). Most cartoons with Spike in it have a system; usually Spike is trying to accomplish something (such as building a dog house or sleeping) when Tom and Jerry's antics stop him from doing it, Spike then (presumably due to prejudice) singles out Tom as the culprit and threatens him that if it ever happens again he will do "something horrible" to Tom (effectively forcing Tom to take the blame of anyone else) while Jerry overhears, afterwards Jerry usually does anything he can to interrupt whatever Spike is doing while Tom barely manages to stop him (usually getting injured in the process), usually Jerry does eventually wreck whatever Spike is doing in spectacular fashion and leaving Tom to take the blame, forcing him to flee from Spike and inevitably lose (usually due to the fact the Tom is usually framed by Jerry and that Spike just doesn't like Tom) off-screen, Spike does something to Tom and finally Tom is generally shown injured or in a bad situation while Jerry smugly cuddles up to Spike unscathed. At least once however Tom does something that benefits Spike, who promises not to interfere ever again; causing Jerry to frantically leave the house and run into the distance (in Hic-cup Pup). Spike is well known for his famous "Listen pussy cat!" catchphrase when he threatens Tom, his other famous catchphrase is "That's my boy!" normally said when he supports or congratulates his son. Tyke is described as a cute, sweet looking, happy and a lovable puppy. He is Spike's son, but unlike Spike, Tyke does not speak and only communicates (mostly towards his father) by barking, yapping, wagging his tail, whimpering and growling. Tyke's father Spike would always go out of his way to care and comfort his son and make sure that he is safe from Tom. Tyke loves his father and Spike loves his son and they get along like friends, although most of time they would be taking a nap or Spike would teach Tyke the main facts of life of being a dog. Like Spike, Tyke's appearance has altered throughout the years, from grey (with white paws) to creamy tan. When Tom and Jerry Kids first aired, this was the first time that viewers were able to hear Tyke speak.
Butch and Toodles Galore
Butch is a black cat who also wants to eat Jerry. He is the most frequent adversary of Tom. However, for most of the episodes he appears in, he's usually seen rivaling Tom over Toodles. Butch also was Tom's pal or chum as in some cartoons, where Butch is leader of Tom's buddies, who are Meathead and Topsy. Butch talks more often than Tom or Jerry in most episodes.
History and evolution
"Tom and Jerry" was a commonplace phrase for youngsters indulging in riotous behaviour in 19th-century London. The term comes from Life in London, or Days and Nights of Jerry Hawthorne and his elegant friend Corinthian Tom (1823) by Pierce Egan. However Brewer notes no more than an "unconscious" echo of the Victorian-era original in the naming of the cartoon.
Hanna-Barbera era (1940–1958)
Willliam Hanna and Joseph Barbera were both part of the Rudolf Ising unit at the MGM cartoon studio in the late 1930s. After the financial disaster of the Captain and the Kids series, Barbera, a storyman and character designer, was paired (out of desperation) with Hanna, an experienced director, to start directing films for the Ising unit. In their first discussion for a cartoon, Joseph Barbera suggested Cat-and-Mouse cartoon entitled Puss Gets the Boot. "We knew we needed two characters. We thought we needed conflict, and chase and action. And a cat after a mouse seemed like a good, basic thought", as he recalled in an interview. Hanna and many other employees complained that the idea wasn't very original, nevertheless the short was completed in late 1939, and released to theaters on February 10, 1940. Puss Gets The Boot centers on Jasper, a gray tabby cat trying to catch a mouse named Jinx (whose name is not mentioned), but after accidentally breaking a houseplant and its stand, the African American housemaid Mammy (later Tom's owner) has threatened to throw Jasper out ("O-W-T, out!" as Mammy spells it) if he breaks one more thing in the house. Naturally, Jinx uses this to his advantage, and begins tossing wine glasses, ceramic plates, teapots, and any and everything fragile, so that Jasper will be thrown outside. Puss Gets The Boot was previewed and released without fanfare, and Hanna and Barbera went on to direct other (non-cat-and-mouse related) shorts such as Gallopin' Gals and Officer Pooch. "After all," remarked many of the MGM staffers, "haven't there been enough cat-and-mouse cartoons already?"
The pessimistic attitude towards the cat and mouse duo changed when the cartoon became a favorite with theater owners and with the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, which nominated the film for the Academy Award for Best Short Subject: Cartoons of 1941. It lost to another MGM cartoon, Rudolph Ising's The Milky Way.
Producer Fred Quimby, who ran the MGM animation studio, quickly pulled Hanna and Barbera off the other one-shot cartoons they were working on, and commissioned a series featuring the cat and mouse. Hanna and Barbera held an intra-studio contest to give the pair a new name by drawing suggested names out of a hat; animator John Carr won $50 with his suggestion of Tom and Jerry. The Tom and Jerry series went into production with The Midnight Snack in 1941, and Hanna and Barbera rarely directed anything but the cat-and-mouse cartoons for the rest of their tenure at MGM. Barbera would create the story while Hanna would supervise production.
Tom's physical appearance evolved significantly over the years. During the early 1940s, Tom had an excess of detail—shaggy fur, numerous facial wrinkles, and multiple eyebrow markings, all of which were streamlined into a more workable form by the end of the 1940s—and looked like a realistic cat; in addition from his quadrupedal beginnings Tom became increasingly, and eventually almost exclusively, bipedal. By contrast, Jerry's design remained essentially the same for the duration of the seri