Tom is a cat that either torments or is tormented by a mouse named Jerry. All the violence and mayhem is here for your enjoyment
Tom and Jerry is one of the greatest classic cartoons in animation history. This disc, while not re-mastered and looking as dirty and muted as you might remember from the old TV show, presents some of the classic original cartoons from the cat and mouse lexicon.
To catch up the uninitiated, Tom is a house cat tasked with protecting his territory from mice. Jerry is the mouse that always shows up to ruin Tom’s day. In the classic role reversal, Jerry is always shown as the protagonist to Tom’s mean spirited antagonist. However, on numerous occasions, Jerry is the tormentor, refusing to let the cat live in peace, yet kids still side with the cute little, vindictive mouse. This DVD is volume 2 of the Tom and Jerry cartoons and includes some true classics.
We start off with Sufferin’ Cats, originally released to theaters in 1943. In the cartoon, Tom finds a rival cat has dinner plans for Jerry and the two have a Laurel and Hardy type adventure as they chase their prey. The rival cat is Meathead, in his first Tom and Jerry appearance, and presents Tom with his first ever adversary to fight with over Jerry. It also is the perfect example of the cartoon with Scott Bradley’s music providing the score and only sound effects used throughout the cartoon. In other shorts, there is more talking and even has Tom and Jerry speak, which I feel lowers the quality of the episodes.
Baby Puss presents the first appearance of Tom’s true rival, Butch. The episode, which premiered on Christmas Day, 1943, begins with Tom being humiliated by a girl named Nancy, who dresses him up like a little baby. Jerry makes it worse when he invites three alley cats over to see and they proceed to torment Tom. The episode includes a song and dance number that is silly, but fun for the kids.
Million Dollar Cat is from 1944 and starts with Tom inheriting a million bucks. The twist is, if he hurts anyone, he loses it. This prompts Jerry to make Tom’s life a living hell. The episode is a lot of fun but I absolutely hated the end when Tom looks straight into the camera and delivers a line of dialogue. This is also a great example of why the show was not meant for little kids because many of the plot points were delivered in newspaper clippings and letters that you had to read. This cartoon is significant for the fact it is the first of only thirteen cartoons where Tom triumphs in the end, which was well deserved because this was one of the best examples of Jerry turning the tables and becoming the antagonist throughout the cartoon.
The Bodyguard is the first time Spike appears as a friend of Jerry (he appeared once before as an adversary for both Tom and Jerry). Here, Jerry saves Spike from the dogcatcher and the dog vows to protect Jerry from Tom whenever the mouse whistles for help. This is the second time that Tom triumphs in the end, differing from the previous episode in the fact that Tom was the bad guy throughout and did not deserve the retribution this time around.
Mouse Trouble was released on Thanksgiving 1944 and won the Academy Award for Best Short Subject: Cartoons. In the cartoon, Tom receives a book in the mail called “How to Catch a Mouse” published by Random Mouse and proceeds to go through the entire book of examples, Jerry thwarting him at every turn. It finally ends with Tom dying, a rare event that only happened four other times, and Tom ascending to Heaven. The music, by Scott Bradley, is based on the jazz song “All God’s Children Got Rhythm” and the cartoon is the highlight of the DVD so far.
Flirty Birdy is an example of how this set is worth every penny for those who want to see the cartoons how they were originally intended. In episodes airing on Cartoon Network, censors worked overtime to make sure no one was offended by deleting specific scenes. In this case, Tom finds another rival for Jerry in a hawk and decides to try to trick the hawk by dressing up like a female bird. Before Tom decides to adapt the disguise, the hawk punches the cat and when Tom lands he is dressed like a cigar store Indian. The Cartoon Network removed this scene so not to offend Native Americans and this is the only place to see the scene as it was originally animated.
Quiet Please is the 1945 Christmas cartoon and is the second Academy Award winner on the DVD. It features Spike, Tom and Jerry all living in the same house and Spike explaining that he wants to sleep and if Tom even makes a sound, he will destroy him. This of course gives Jerry all the ammunition he needs to do whatever he can to get Tom in trouble. It is a case of cat and mouse, as Tom uses knock out drops to make Spike sleep and Jerry mist find something to wake the dog to save himself. It is a great cartoon with the one downfall being Tom speaking on numerous occasions.
The Invisible Mouse jumps us two years later to 1947 and is an off take of the story of The Invisible Man. Jerry is on the run from Tom and finds a chemistry set and falls into a bottle of invisible ink, turning invisible in the process. It is the typical Tom and Jerry cartoon as Jerry uses this to his advantage to torment the cat as much as possible. I found one part of the cartoon ridiculous as Tom discovered that it was Jerry tormenting him by seeing the invisible mouse’s shadow. That makes absolutely no sense.
Heavenly Puss is a very different, very grown up Tom and Jerry cartoon. Tom is chasing Jerry when a bureau to fall on him from a second floor and Tom dies. Tom’s spirit immediately leaves his body and he takes the escalator to Heaven. He sees a train leading to Heaven where Butch and Meathead led the way. A very sad, disturbing moment was next when three little kittens named Fluff, Muff and Puff were put in a bag and drowned as the gatekeeper sadly said “what some people won’t do.” Tom is told that since he spent his life tormenting a poor little mouse, the only way he would get into Heaven is if he got Jerry to sign a release form forgiving him in one hour. Otherwise, it was straight to Hell where Spike represented the Devil and awaited him. Giving the depiction of Heaven and Hell, the cartoon goes above and beyond its normal lightweight fare. It is a fantastic cartoon and is one of the best in the cartoon’s history.
Jerry and the Goldfish presents Jerry with a new little friend that Tom decides he wants to eat after listening to a French cooking show on the radio. Cue Ball Cat is next on the DVD although it was released a year before the prior cartoon (1950). It is a fun little cartoon that actually has Tom as the main tormentor for a change until Jerry turns the tables on him. There are a lot of great allusions in the cartoon to circus themed actions and it retains the pitch perfect Tom and Jerry formula.
Slicked up Pup is the first chance to see Spike’s boy Tyke (the second appearance of him on the show at all) and starts with Spike giving his boy a bath. Tom and Jerry race onto the scene and get Tyke dirty. After Spike orders Tom to clean up Tyke he tells the cat that if his boy gets dirty again, he’ll tear Tom limb from limb. On cue, Jerry does everything he can to get Tyke dirty to get Tom in trouble. The last cartoon on the DVD is Jerry’s Cousin and features Cousin Muscles coming to help stop Tom from tormenting Jerry. It was nominated for an Academy Award in 1950 and finishes the set off in style.
This compilation has two Academy Award winners and one nominee, early appearances of characters such as Spike, Tyke and Butch, and a fantastic cartoon in Heavenly Puss. It also presents the only chance to see some of the cartoons unedited. If it were not for the poor video quality, this would be an almost perfect set.
There are a bunch of trailers on the DVD but that is it.