Wednesday, September 14, 2011

The Very Best of Tom and Jerry Episodes

Tom and Jerry are the kings of slapstick that we all remember since our childhood.  Those catchy musics composed by Scott Bradley, great animation, and over-the-top characters of William Hanna Joseph Barbera will never be forgotten. Most of their episodes are filled with creative action and funny screams, yet here I would like to count my very best episodes of Tom and Jerry.

1. The Cat Concerto (1947)
The elegant Tom is about to play a piano piece in front of a huge audience; however, Jerry, who was sleeping in the piano, decides to (You guessed it!) upstage Tom. This film is similar to Johann Mouse in the way that they are using classical music to effectively tell the story, but this is rather a very mean-spirited film. In most of other Tom and Jerry short films, Tom picks on Jerry, and clever Jerry defeats him, thus Tom is given what he deserves. In this short film, however, Jerry is very despicable, and humiliates Tom who has done nothing wrong. 

Cat Concerto received the 1946 Academy Award for Best Short Animated Film, and it was voted #42 of the 50 Greatest Cartoons of all time by members of the animation field in 1994!
© 1947 Warner Bros.
Interestingly, in the same year this film was released, Warner Bros. also released a very similar Bugs Bunny cartoon,Rhapsody Rabbit. It has identical story and ending (Bugs against an unnamed mouse), identical gags, and even the same piece by Liszt. MGM and Warner Bros. sued each other for this, and both films' clips were shown in 1947 Academy Awards ceremony. It was revealed that Technicolor was sending a print of either cartoon to the competing studio. The studio then must have plagiarized their rival's work.

I am on the side of Tom and Jerry: their film is much more nicely paced without unnecessary moments. It's entertaining, and the action is synchronized surprisingly well with the music while Bugs Bunny has, well, um...
© 1947 Warner Bros.

2. The Little Orphan (1949)
© 1949 Warner Bros.
Happy Thanksgiving, and Jerry is asked to feed a very hungry orphan mouse called Nibbles. Nibbles is often introduced as Jerry's Nephew, but he is an orphan looking for a good Thanksgiving meal.
Just like most of the films listed here, this short film was also subject to censorship. There is a scene where Nibbles launches a candle toward Tom's tail, and Tom appears in blackface. In the new version of this short film, the whole scene is cut, and the ending is quite abrupt and hurried.
The Little Orphan won the 1948 Academy Award for Best Short Animated Films.

3. The Night Before Christmas (1941)
© 1941 Warner Bros.
Jerry is roaming the house, celebrating Christmas, but Tom wants to kick Jerry out of the house.
Although I already put this in my Top 10 Christmas Related Animated Short Film, I can't praise this short film enough. While the shorts mentioned earlier has great fun, this film is not only enjoyable, but also very touching.
It was nominated for the 1941 Academy Award for Best Short Animated Film, but lost to Mickey Mouse cartoon Lend a Paw.

4. The Two Mouseketeers (1952)
© 1952 Warner Bros.
In this short, Tom is given a mission to protect a lavish meal of his master from the King's Two Mouseketeers. If he fails, he shall be executed.  

This is a very new and fresh try by putting Tom and Jerry in Musketeer outfit, once upon a time in France. The result was excellent, and so many people wanted more Mouseketeers that a prequel and two sequels were made: Touché, Pussy Cat!, om and Chérie, and Royal Cat Nap; however, the very first one is the best, and the rest seems like copying the funniest part of this and pasting into another. The sword fight between Jerry and Tom is really well done and actually very thrilling, and all other actions are really imaginative and bold. 

The Two Mouseketeers won the 1951 Academy Award for Best Short Subject Animated Film, and its prequel Touché, Pussy Cat! got a nomination in 1954.

5. Yankee Doodle Mouse (1943)
© 1943 Warner Bros.
Jerry sends War Communiques to Mouse Headquarters Cheese Division, reporting how he killed Tom each time. 

This is the most over-the-top Tom and Jerry short film in this list. Each and every way how he did it is so ridiculous and filled with speedy action. It is really, really fast-paced, and never let us catch our breadth. It's interesting to see ordinary things we see in the house are being used for Jerry's defense against Tom: Bananas; Champagne caps; underwear; light bulb; and so on. Of course, dynamite is never omitted.

The Yankee Doodle Mouse won the 1943 Academy Award for Best Animated Short Film. After a few nominations it was the first win, and Tom and Jerry cartoons had six more to win in the future!

6. Mouse Trouble (1944)
© 1944 Warner Bros.
Tom wants to get rid of Jerry, as always. But this time, he is equipped with the most helpful book for catching mouse. He will surely succeed without a doubt if he follows the instructions carefully.
This might be the goriest and the most violent Tom and Jerry film I've ever seen. Don't believe me? Do you know how Tom got those scars? Watch it. This episode has that very famous quote "Don't you believe it!"(Voiced by William Hanna.), when Tom attacks Jerry after reading "A Cornered Mouse NEVER FIGHTS".
In the 17th Academy Award, the cartoon won the Oscar for Best Animated Short Film. 

7. Quiet Please! (1945)
© 1945 Warner Bros.
Tom's nemesis Spike wants have a nap. If he hears one more sound, he will skin Tom alive.
The cartoon is notable for having a speaking, singing Tom. When Jerry wakes Spike, Tom sings a parodied version of Brahms' Lullaby ("…close your big bloodshot're a dope, and you're a lug, and I hope you don't wake up…"). Also, when Jerry leaves a note that Tom will receive one custard pie when Jerry dies, Tom cries: "One custard pie?! Let me have it!" William Hanna used to voice Tom including those ridiculous screams, yet in this time all of the dialogues are recorded by Billy Bletcher. 
18th Academy Award for Best Short Film was given to Quiet Please!

8. Johann Mouse (1953)
© 1953 Warner Bros.
Tom tries to learn music in order to catch a mouse that dances every time when a music is played.
This film is the latest Tom and Jerry film in this list, and the design of Tom and Jerry is very simplified whem compared to early ones, yet they turned out to be very cute. The film takes place in a picture book format, as a kind narrator tells us the story of a cat and a mouse who lived in Johann Strauss's house.

Johann Mouse won the 25th Academy Awards for Best Animated Short Film. It was the the seventh and the final Oscar win for Tom and Jerry.

9. Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Mouse (1947)
© 1947 Warner Bros.
For some reason Jerry wants to steal Tom's milk; thus, Tom makes a fake milk to poison Jerry. By drinking the milk, Jerry turns into a giant super-mouse while Tom panics.
This short film gets funnier and funnier as it gets to the end. The transition from the diabolical Tom to scared Tom is just hilarious. The facial expressions from wicked to terrified are simply the best.

The episode is or course a parody of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde. It was nominated for the Academy Award for Best Short Animated Film in 1947, and the legendary Tweetie Pie of Warner Bros. won the Oscar.

10. The Midnight Snack (1941)
© 1941 Warner Bros.
Jerry is stealing some food during the night, and Tom notices how delicious the food inside the fridge is.
This short film is amazingly faithful to how cats treat their meal when the mice are caught. Rather than taking Jerry red-handed, Tom wants to have more fun with Jerry, until Jerry starts to have more fun with Tom. Tom's reaction to various types of food inside the fridge is just priceless and always makes me laugh. You will get very hungry after watching this.

11. Hatch Up Your Troubles (1949)
© 1949 Warner Bros.
A cute little woodpecker thinks Jerry is his mommy. Jerry refuses to be one but decides to protect him when Tom wants to eat the baby bird.

The slapstick caused by the woodpecker is cruel yetvery funny at the same time. For instance, when Tom swallows the Woodpecker and gulps down a bucket of water, the woodpecker makes holes all over his body so that water flows out of those holes. Um, now it sounds very gory in words.

12. Jerry's Cousin (1951)
© 1951 Warner Bros.
Jerry is sick and tired of Tom, so he calls his super-strong cousin for help.
Jerry's cousin, Muscles is an interesting character. He defeats every single cat in his alley but still he always walks as if he had scores to settle.
Jerry's Cousin was nominated for 1950 Academy Award for Best Short  Animated Film, but lost to Gerald McBoing-Boing, a UPA production. It was a very understandable win for Gerald McBoing-Boing, and I always marvel at its animation, music, and characters.

13. Tee for Two (1945)
© 1945 Warner Bros.
When Tom is disturbed by Jerry while he tries to play golf, he decides to play with Jerry.
This is one of the most popular Tom and Jerry cartoon of all time. This shows every single slapstick we can see using tee, holes, and club in a field.

14. Trap Happy (1946)
© 1946 Warner Bros.
Tom finally calls mouse exterminator.

The title is a parody of Slap happy. This story not only have Tom  but also the Mouse Exterminator being beaten to death by Jerry. The fun from seeing tom and Jerry is doubled when we watch both Exterminator and Tom being outwitted. Tom's report call to the exterminator using hilarious sounds is voiced by William Hanna.

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