Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Cartoon a Day: Tom-ic Energy

Tom-ic Energy
Directed by Chuck Jones and Maurice Noble
Available on: Tom and Jerry - The Chuck Jones Collection

It might turn out to be a Tom and Jerry week here for Cartoon a Day, since I used some more Father's Day gift card goodness to pick up the recently released "Tom and Jerry - The Chuck Jones Collection" DVD set. The Chuck Jones Tom and Jerry films are going to be interesting to look at. After Warner Brothers got out of the cartoon business, Jones was courted by MGM where he ended up doing a number of projects, including the final 34 Tom and Jerry theatrical shorts. These films represent the final days of the age of animated theatrical short. They are also interesting in that while they are the work of a master, they are generally not considered to be a high point in Jones' career. However, it is interesting to see theatrical animated shorts done in full animation, from a time when animation was heading to a slimmed down television version (being spearheaded, oddly enough, by Tom and Jerry's creators...William Hanna and Joseph Barbera).

The look of these shorts is very different from the Hannah Barbera films. The look of the two main characters changed quite a bit. Jerry had a bigger head and larger eyes. Tom was given thicker eyebrows and longer ears. The color scheme is quite a bit different as well. Plus, the films are widescreen!

This short has the cat and mouse chasing around city streets and rooftops. There are some decent gags, but they just don't quite have the intensity of the HB years. The highlight of the film is when Tom gets caught up in the laundry, ends up dressed in a ladies clothes, and then is mistaken by another cat for a female. The scene is played Pepe le Pew style, complete with Mel Blanc doing the voice of the other cat.

I can remember seeing many of these shorts as a kid, and even then we could tell the difference between the older Tom and Jerry cartoons and these. I can honestly say that my memories back then were that these were not as strong, but it will be fun to revisit them with the eyes of an adult.

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