Tom and Jerry are two animated characters, a cat (Tom) and a mouse (Jerry), who starred in a large number of short films created, written and directed by William Hanna and Joseph Barbera (prior to the fame of Hanna-Barbera). The series were produced by the Hollywood studio of Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer from 1940 to 1958, when the animation group of the studio was closed. MGM, in 1960, outsourced the production of Tom and Jerry to Rembrandt Films (directed by Gene Deitch) in Czechoslovakia. In 1963, the production of Tom and Jerry's shorts returned to Hollywood with Sib-Tower 12 Productions by Chuck Jones. These series lasted until 1967. Tom and Jerry then returned in the form of cartoons for television by Hanna-Barbera (1975-1977, 1990-1993) and Filmation Studios (1980-1982). The Hanna-Barbera shorts are important for having won seven Academy Awards, tying with Silly Symphonies of Walt Disney and the animated series most awards.
The plot of each short film focuses primarily on Tom's frustrated attempts to catch Jerry, and the chaos and destruction that this causes. Because they seem to get along in some chapters, at least in the first few minutes, it's not clear why Tom chases Jerry so much, but some reasons in different short films include:
Tom rarely succeeds in defeating Jerry, mainly due to the mouse's skill and cunning, but sometimes it's due to Tom's own stupidity. Tom only beats Jerry when he becomes the instigator or crosses a certain type of line. Jerry's cunning is generated by being almost always on defense (quite similar to Bugs Bunny).
The short films have been famous for showing strong scenes that were considered at the time as excessively violent, since you could see the mouse Jerry cutting Tom in half, Tom using different weapons to try to end him as axes, guns, rifles, explosives and poison, Jerry burning Tom's tail with a waffle maker, Tom receiving heavy beatings from his owner or a dog, among many more.
Generally, neither Tom nor Jerry speaks in cartoons (except in a movie). There are a few exceptions, but their voices are limited most of the time just to express screams of joy or pain (almost always from Tom), or swallow saliva. Their facial expressions and gestures convey and make the public understand all their feelings and intentions. They rarely say words, although in a short entitled The Lonesome Mouse they dialogue fluently.
The music is an important part in the shorts, emphasizing the action and showing emotions in the scenes. The music director, Scott Bradley, created complex works that mixed jazz, incidental music, classical music and pop music.
After 1953, all Tom and Jerry shorts were produced in the standard and format Academy ratio, from 1953 to 1956 some of the works were produced in the Academy format and the Cinemascope widescreen process. From 1956 until the close of the MGM animation studio a year later, all Tom and Jerry cartoons were produced on Cinemascope. Some even have their soundtracks recorded in stereo. The 1960s shorts created by Gene Deitch and Chuck Jones. They were produced in the Academy format, but with compositions that made them compatible for the Academy widescreen format as well. All Hanna and Barbera shorts were produced in Technicolor, the works of the 1960s were made in Metrocolor.
Tom is a domestic, anthropomorphic cat, which first appeared in the 1940 short film, Puss Gets the Boot, bluish gray (or grayish blue, depending on the short, the color of its fur is similar to that of the cat breed Russian Blue), which has a comfortable life.
Tom was originally known as "Jasper" during his debut in this short. However, from his next appearance, in The Midnight Snack and onwards, he is known as "Tom". Unlike popular belief, "Jasper" is not his last name. His full name is "Tom Cat", it's a pun on "Tomcat", which is the phrase that refers to male cats. On very rare he is heard speaking with the exception of a few appearances. He frequently uses traps, which by any action, ends up damaging himself, in Jerry's time, Tom rarely hunts Jerry to eat him, just to hurt him or compete with him, but Tom really gets along sometimes with Jerry, Tom has changed noticeably in recent years, especially after the first episodes. For example, on his first debut, he was quadruped and with cat intelligence, but over the years, he has become almost entirely biped and human intelligence. "Canine problem" was the last episode with a quadruped Tom.
It is a lively and quite sensitive temperament. Although quite energetic and determined, Tom is not a challenge to Jerry's mind. At the end of each episode, Jerry is generally shown as the winner, and Tom as the loser. However, there have been several other results: on rare occasions, Tom triumphs. Sometimes, ironically, both lose. From time to time, usually at Christmas, Tom saves Jerry's life, or at least gives him gifts. On at least one occasion, their daily persecution is represented as a routine enjoyed by both. In a particular episode, Tom is in love with a cat, and then Jerry, jealous, proceeds to separate them, for which Tom is grateful and they shake hands, and continue with their hunt.
Unlike Jerry, Tom has a conscience that afflicts him by thinking that Jerry is badly hurt or even dead. Jerry sometimes takes advantage of this.
Jerry is a brown anthropomorphic mouse that always lives a short distance from Tom. He appeared for the first time in the 1940 short film Puss Gets the Boot. Jerry was originally known as "the Mouse" (the Mouse) during his debut in that short, however, from his next appearance in The Midnight Snack and hereafter, he is known as "Jerry", but it was originally thought that It would be called Jinx. For some reason, Jerry, from his first appearance, walked on two legs. This is very different from Tom, who gradually became a biped animal.
Although many of the secondary characters speak, Tom and Jerry rarely do. Tom, usually uses his voice to sing to cats, for example, he sings "Is You Is Or Is You Ain't My Baby" in the short 1946: Solid Serenade. Co-director William Hanna did most of the pair's vocal expressions, including the most famous sound effect of the series, Tom's Scream (created by recording Hanna's scream and using only the most powerful part of it).
In his attempts to capture Jerry, Tom sometimes has to deal with other characters such as Butch (Tom and Jerry), a scruffy black street cat who also wants to catch the mouse and often rivals Tom (especially when they are both in love with the same cat) although ironically in some shorts both are shown having a kind of friendship, Spike (also known as "Killer" or "Butch"), a fierce bulldog who is allegedly shown living in the same house with him, who in most cases ends up hitting him because of Jerry, (especially when he takes advantage the warnings that the dog gives him), and Mammy-Two-Shoes (voice made by Lillian Randolph), an African-American woman whose face is never visible who works and owns the house, who usually hits the cat with a broom when he misbehaves, is aware that he fulfills his obligations and even rewards him with food when he believes He did his job well with the mouse. In some Latin American countries it is usually called Tomasa. His first appearance was in the short film Puss Gets the Boot (1939), and the last one in Push-Button Kitty (1952).
In the late 1940s, Jerry adopted a small gray mouse called Nibbles (also known as "Tuffy" or "Chérie"). During the 1950s, Spike has a son named Tyke. Tyke's incorporation gave Jerry a new weapon against Tom. By disturbing the puppy, his father would come and attack the alleged culprit, which was usually the cat. Another character in the series was Quacker, a yellow duckling whose debut took place in the 1950 episode 47 "Little Quacker", where his mother (whose name is not indicated), a gray leg, and his father also appeared "Henry", a beefy beige duck with an anchor tattooed on the chest. Quacker's design was later used by Hanna-Barbera, for the creation of the character Yakky Doodle, star of his own show. Uncle Pecos, Jerry's uncle, made his only appearance in the short "Pecos Pest", in 1955. It is an old gray mouse with a large white mustache that plays the guitar, until a string breaks and you have to find something to replace it, using Tom's mustache. Another relative is Cousin Muscles, Jerry's cousin, who has great strength. Another character in the series was "George", Tom's cousin. He is scary and afraid of mice, but at the end of the chapter he joins his cousin Tom to drive Jerry away. Also appear in some episodes a goldfish and a canary whose names are not indicated.
William Hanna and Joseph Barbera were part of Rudolf Ising's unit in the MGM animation studio in the late 1930s. Barbera, a story maker and character designer, and Hanna, an experienced director, were appointed to begin directing short films in Ising's unit. His first work was a short film entitled Puss Gets the Boot. Created in late 1939, and released in theaters on 10 of February of 1940, Puss Gets The Boot centers on Jasper, a gray cat trying to catch an unnamed rodent brown. In 1941, the short film was nominated for Oscar award in the best animated short film category, but lost to another MGM cartoon, The Milky Way. The producer Fred Quimby decided not to make more cartoons of the cat and the mouse, since the study looked for a greater diversity within its works. Finally, Quimby changed his mind and allowed to continue using the characters, known ever since as Tom and Jerry. The second short film starring the duo, The Midnight Snack, was released in 1941. For the next 17 years, Hanna and Barbera worked exclusively on Tom and Jerry, directing a total of 114 animated short films.
Tom's appearance changed significantly over the years. At the beginning of the 1940s, Tom presented a large number of details - excessive fur, numerous facial marks, and notorious eyebrows - which were modified to make work easier in the late 1940s. Jerry remained relatively the same throughout the series. In the mid-1940s, the series became faster and more energetic, thanks to the inspiration of Tex Avery, who joined the studio in 1942.
Although the basic plot of each short film was the same, Hanna and Barbera developed unlimited variations of it. The storyboards and draft Barbera, combined with the rhythm of Hanna, were the most popular, successful and critically acclaimed series that has had the animation studio MGM. 13 episodes of the series of Tom and Jerry (not counting Puss Gets The Boot) were nominated for the Oscar for best animated short film, seven of them won the prize, breaking the good streak of Walt Disney in that category.
Tom and Jerry maintained their popularity throughout their film career, even when the budget began to run short in the 1950s. However, after television became popular during this decade, the income generated by films and short films fell. At first, MGM fought this by producing all its series in Cinemascope format, but realizing that it was more profitable to repeat old cartoons than to produce new short films, the studio executives decided, to the surprise of the staff, to close the animation studio. The MGM animation studio was closed in 1957, and the last of the 114 Tom and Jerry short films created by Hanna and Barbera, Tot Watchers, was released on August 1, 1958. Hanna and Barbera started their own television studio, Hanna-Barbera Productions, in 1957, which produced animated drawings as successful as The Flintstones, The Supersonic, and Scooby-Doo.
In 1960, MGM decided to produce new Tom and Jerry shorts, and producer William L. Snyder made a deal with Czech director Gene Deitch and his studio, Rembrandt Films, to make short films in Prague, Czechoslovakia. The Deitch/Snyder union created 13 short films. These are generally considered the worst short films of Tom and Jerry, although some have an affinity for their surreal characteristics.
Since the Deitch/Snyder team only presented a few elements of Tom and Jerry's original shorts, the results were considered rare, and in some cases, strange. The expressions of the characters were at high speed, resulting blurred. The soundtrack had little music, a lot of sound effects, dialogues that were more muted than spoken, and a great use of reverberations.
These short films were the only ones in the Tom and Jerry series that didn't have the phrase "Made in Hollywood, USA" at the end. Instead they had the phrase "A MGM Cartoon". Because Deitch's studio was behind the iron curtain, the place of production is completely omitted. Deitch's version of his work on Tom and Jerry can be viewed on his personal site (in English).
After Deitch's shorts were released, MGM hired American director Chuck Jones, who had worked with such important characters as Bugs Bunny, Pato Lucas, and The Roadrunner, to name a few, finished his thirty-year work in the animation department of Warner Bros and he had started his own studio, Sib Tower 12 Productions, with partner Les Goldman. Jones and Goldman produced 34 shorts of Tom and Jerry since 1963, which presented clear Jones influences, but did not achieve great success from critics. Some short films lacked plot, since they favored the personality and style of the characters more than the story. The characters underwent a change in appearance: Tom was drawn thicker, with different eyebrows, while Jerry was given bigger ears and eyes, and a sweeter expression. The image of the title was also changed, they replaced the MGM lion with Tom trying to imitate his growl. Jones co-directed the majority of the shorts alongside Maurice Noble, the rest were directed by Abe Levitow, Ben Washam, Jim Pabian and Tom Ray.
MGM ceased production of animated shorts in 1967, at which time Sib Tower 12 was already part of MGM.
At the beginning of 1965, Tom and Jerry's short films by Hanna and Barbera were broadcasted on television in a fairly edited way: all the shorts in which Mammy appeared had to be edited to replace her with a thin, white woman. The dubbing of Lillian Randolph was changed by the voice of June Foray, who spoke with an Irish accent. Much of the violence contained in the shorts was also edited. Tom and Jerry began broadcasting on Saturday mornings on CBS from September 25, 1965, two years later they were moved to Sundays until September 17, 1972.
When the series was aired in the United Kingdom (from 1967 to 2000, usually on the BBC) the violent scenes were not censored and Mammy was not replaced. The short films were also used when there were problems with the live signal, in this way the tuning was maintained while fixing it. This was seen in 1993, when Noel's House Party had to be canceled due to a bomb alarm at the BBC Television Center by IRA.
In 1975, Tom and Jerry were once again under the command of Hanna and Barbera in association with MGM Television, who produced new short films for Saturday mornings. These 48 seven-minute short films were broadcast alongside those of Grape Ape and Mumbly, to create The Tom and Jerry/Grape Ape Show, The Tom and Jerry/Grape Ape/Mumbly Show, and The Tom and Jerry/Mumbly Show, which were transmitted by ABC on Saturday mornings from September 6, 1975 until September 3, 1977. In these cartoons, Tom and Jerry (who now occupied a red bowtie), who had been enemies during the first years, joined together to face adventures together, due to the strict rules against violence in children's programs.
In 1980, Filmation Studios (in association with MGM Television) also tried to produce a television series of Tom and Jerry, called The Tom and Jerry Comedy Show, in the series appeared some MGM characters such as Droopy, Spike and Barney Bear. Although they returned to the classic formula, the Filmation series was of lower quality than Hanna-Barbera's. This version, like that of 1975, was not well received by the public, and was issued by CBS on Saturday mornings from September 6, 1980 until September 4, 1982.
In 1986, MGM was bought by Ted Turner. Turner sold the company in 1988, but retained all MGM audiovisual material made before 1986, because of this Tom and Jerry became the property of Turner Entertainment (rights are still retained through Warner Bros.), and have been broadcast on Turner's different channels, such as: Cartoon Network, Boomerang, TCM, TNT, and TBS Network.
One of the major trends in programs Saturday morning between 1980 and 1990 was to create young versions of classic series, and 8 of September of 1990, Tom and Jerry Kids Show (The Tom and Jerry Small) co-produced by Turner Entertainment and Hanna-Barbera Productions (which would be sold to Turner in 1991), debuted on FOX. The series showed a children's version of the cat and the mouse. As in the 1975 series, Jerry wore a red bowtie while Tom a cap. Spike and his son Tyke, and Droopy and his son Dripple, appeared in some segments of the program, which was aired until the November 27, 1994. Tom and Jerry Kids was the last series of Tom and Jerry produced in 4:3 (full screen).
In 2001, a new television short film entitled Tom and Jerry: The Mansion Cat was released in Boomerang. Joe Barbera (who was also a creative consultant) played the owner of Tom, whose face is never seen. Jerry is a house pet like Tom, and his owner has to remind Tom that he shouldn't "blame the mouse on everything".
In 2005 The Karate Guard, the first short film by Tom and Jerry, was released in more than 45 years. It was written and directed by Barbera and Spike Brandt, scripted by Joseph Barbera and Iwao Takamoto and produced by Joseph Barbera, Spike Brandt and Tony Cervone. It premiered in theaters in Los Angeles on September 27, 2005 as part of the celebration of Tom and Jerry's sixtieth anniversary and marked the return of Barbera as a writer, director and screenwriter from the original MGM shorts. Shortly after finishing production, Spike Brandt was nominated for an Annie Award for best character animation. The short debuted on Cartoon Networkon January 27, 2006, along with the episodes "My Friend, the Smart Banana" by I Am Weasel and "Black Sheep of the Family" by Cow and Chicken.
A new series called The Adventures of Tom and Jerry was produced by Warner Bros. Animation in the first half of 2005. Thirteen half-hour episodes (each consisting of three short films) were produced for the foreign market. This is Tom and Jerry's first television series that uses the style of the original shorts. The program was released in the United Kingdom in February 2006 on the Boomerang channel and was broadcast on the Kids' WB block on The CW in the United States. The series was canceled in 2008, shortly before the Kids' WB block was discontinued. The Adventures of Tom and Jerry was also the first series of Tom and Jerry to be produced in 16:9 (widescreen) but cut to 4:3 (full screen).
Cartoon Network announced a new series of two 11-minute shorts per episode that will maintain the style of the original film shorts. Similar to other reboots like Scooby-Doo! Mystery Incorporated and The Looney Tunes Show, the series brings Tom and Jerry into a contemporary environment, telling new stories and relocating the characters to more fantastic worlds, from a witch's house to a laboratory of mad scientists.
Titled The Tom and Jerry Show, the series is produced by Warner Bros. Animation with Sam Register as executive producer in collaboration with Darrell Van Citters and Ashley Postelwaite in Renegade Animation. Originally it was going to be released somewhere in 2013, but the premiere was delayed until April 9, 2014, date where it finally debuted in the United States. This is Tom and Jerry's second production to be presented in the 16:9 panoramic format.
In November 2014, a two-minute short film was shown as part of Children In Need on Telethon in the United Kingdom. The short was produced in collaboration with Warner Bros.
Like other cartoons of the 1940s, 1950s and 1960s, Tom and Jerry was not considered politically correct for some time. The series was branded racist, showing its characters with a black face after receiving an explosion. An example of this was the short film Mouse Cleaning, where Tom is left with a black face after falling a lot of coal. After this, the cat begins to speak in an accent similar to that used by the African-American actor Stepin Fetchit, so the scene was edited years later, eliminating the cat's voice. The character of Mammy Two Shoes, which represented a racial stereotype, was edited and replaced by that of a white woman. During the 1980s, the films which appeared Mammy Two Shoes were recovered and broadcast on television.
An introduction starring African-American actress Whoopi Goldberg was included in the DVD collection Tom and Jerry: The Spotlight Collection. In it, Goldberg notes:
"The scandalous mood presented before us here comes from a time when racial and ethnic differences were caricatured in the name of entertainment... Some of these cartoons reflect stereotypes that were common in American society, especially when it came to racial and ethnic groups. These prejudices were wrong then, and are certainly wrong today. The characters and images are presented to accurately reflect a part of our history that cannot and should not be ignored."
The series has also been considered excessively violent by some sectors. John Culshaw criticized the animated series produced during World War II, especially Tom and Jerry. Culshaw compared these cartoons with those created by Walt Disney, argued that they used the slapstick as a humorous resource, unlike Tom and Jerry.
In 2006, two short films by Tom and Jerry were censored by Ofcom, a British agency that regulates the content broadcast on television in that country. This arose as a result of the claim of a spectator who denounced scenes where the characters were shown smoking. The short films were Texas Tom (1950) and Tennis Chumps (1949), which were edited by the Turner Company to erase the scenes.
In 2013, in Brazil, Cartoon Network withdrew 27 short films from its programming because there were complaints about the mentioned violence. Even so, days later, the channel denies this by saying that only 2 short ones were removed from the air (the aforementioned Texas Tom and Tennis Chumps) also for the scenes where the characters go out smoking and that happened 3 years ago.
In 1945, Jerry made an appearance in the MGM musical Anchors Aweigh, in which, through special effects, he makes a dance routine with Gene Kelly. In this sequence, Gene Kelly tells some students a fictional story of how he won his medal of honor. Jerry is the king of a magical world inhabited by cartoon animals, who has forbidden him to dance since he doesn't know. Kelly's character guides Jerry in an elaborate dance routine, so he gives her a medal. Jerry speaks and sings in the movie. His voice is played by Sara Berner. Tom has a cameo in the sequence as one of Jerry's servants. Tom and Jerry appear alongside Esther Williamsin the scene of a dream in another MGM musical, Dangerous When Wet (1953). In the movie, Tom and Jerry chase each other underwater, when they meet Williams they do a synchronized swimming routine. Tom and Jerry must save Esther from an octopus trying to catch him among his tentacles.
It was not until 1992 when the first Tom and Jerry movie titled Tom and Jerry: The Movie, produced by Phil Roman, was released in the United States in 1993. The film was highly criticized for being unpredictable, predictable, and for giving dialogues (and songs) to the cat and the mouse throughout the film. In 2001, Warner Bros. made another film, this time direct to video, titled Tom and Jerry: The Magic Ring, in which Tom tries to seize a ring that gives magical powers to whoever wears it, and that was accidentally stuck in Jerry's head. Four years later, Bill Kopp wrote and directed two more films for Warner Brothers: Tom & Jerry Blast Off To Mars and The Fast and The Furry, the latest based on a story by Joseph Barbera. Both were released on DVD in 2006. In 2011, Tom and Jerry appeared in a crossover movie called Tom and Jerry and The Wizard of Oz where they are involved in the famous 1939 film, The Wizard of Oz.
Tom and Jerry began appearing in the comics in 1942, as part of Our Gang Comics. In 1949, with the MGM Our Gang series out of production, he was renamed to Tom and Jerry Comics. The pair continued to appear in several comics throughout the twentieth century. It was also translated into Spanish.
They have also appeared in a large number of video games such as:
Due to the limited dialogue, Tom and Jerry has been translated into several languages.
Tom and Jerry began broadcasting in Japan in 1964. A nationwide survey in 2005 by TV Asashi, being teenage and adult respondents, placed Tom and Jerry in 85th place in the list of the 100 best anime of all time, while the survey on the website placed them in 58. Tom and Jerry are quite well known in China and also in South Korea.
The following Tom and Jerry short films won the Oscar for best animated short film:
These short films were nominated for the Oscar for best animated short film, but did not win: