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Mon Feb 10, 2020, 08:34 PM

80 Years Ago Today; Tom and Jerry premieres in theaters

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tom_and_Jerry



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History
"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 Regency era original in the naming of the cartoon.

Hanna-Barbera era (1940–1958)
In June 1937, animator and storyman Joseph Barbera began to work for the Ising animation unit at MGM, then the largest studio in Hollywood. He learned that co-owner Louis B. Mayer wished to boost the animation department by encouraging the artists to develop some new cartoon characters, following the lack of success with its earlier cartoon series based on the Captain and the Kids comic strip. Barbera then teamed with fellow Ising unit animator and director William Hanna and pitched new ideas, among them was the concept of two "equal characters who were always in conflict with each other". An early thought involved a fox and a dog before they settled on a cat and mouse. The pair discussed their ideas with producer Fred Quimby, then the head of the short film department who, despite a lack of interest in it, gave them the green-light to produce one cartoon short.

The first short, Puss Gets the Boot, features a cat named Jasper and an unnamed mouse, named Jinx in pre-production, and an African American housemaid named Mammy Two Shoes. Leonard Maltin described it as "very new and special [...] that was to change the course of MGM cartoon production" and established the successful Tom and Jerry formula of comical cat and mouse chases with slapstick gags. It was released onto the theatre circuit on February 10, 1940 and the pair, having been advised by management not to produce any more, focused on other cartoons including Gallopin' Gals (1940) and Officer Pooch (1941). Matters changed, however, when Texas businesswoman Bessa Short sent a letter to MGM asking whether more cat and mouse shorts would be produced, which helped convince management to commission a series. A studio contest held to rename both characters was won by animator John Carr, who suggested Tom the cat and Jerry the mouse after the Christmastime drink. Carr was awarded a first place prize of $50. Puss Gets the Boot was a critical success, earning an Academy Award nomination for Best Short Subject: Cartoons in 1941 despite the credits listing Ising and omitting Hanna and Barbera.

After MGM gave the green-light for Hanna and Barbera to continue, the studio entered production on the second Tom and Jerry cartoon, The Midnight Snack (1941). The pair would continue to work on the series for the next fifteen years of their career. Early into the series, Jerry never started the conflict, and shorts typically involved Tom losing by the end. The composer of the series, Scott Bradley, made it difficult for the musicians to perform his score which often involved the twelve-tone technique developed by Arnold Schoenberg. The series developed a quicker, more energetic and violent tone which was inspired by the work of MGM colleague Tex Avery. Hanna and Barbera made minor adjustments to Tom and Jerry's appearance so they would "age gracefully". Jerry went on to lose weight and his long eyelashes, while Tom lost his jagged fur for a smoother appearance, had larger eyebrows, and received a white and grey face with a white mouth. He adopted a quadrupedal stance at first, like a real cat, to become increasingly and almost exclusively bipedal.

Hanna and Barbera produced 114 cartoons for MGM, thirteen of which were nominated for an Academy Award for Best Short Subject and seven went on to win, breaking the winning streak held by Walt Disney's studio in the category. Tom and Jerry won more Academy Awards than any other character-based theatrical animated series. Barbera estimated the typical budget of $50,000 for each Tom and Jerry cartoon which made the duo take "time to get it right". A typical cartoon took around six weeks to make. He and Hanna did not work with a script beforehand, instead worked on the story as they drew scenes. Quimby was credited as the producer of all cartoons until 1955.

The rise in television in the 1950s caused problems for the MGM animation studio, leading to budget cuts on Tom and Jerry cartoons due to decreased revenue from theatrical screenings. In an attempt to combat this, MGM ordered that all subsequent shorts be produced in the widescreen CinemaScope format; the first, Touché, Pussy Cat!, was released in December 1954. However, the studio found that re-releases of older cartoons were earning as much as new ones, resulting in the executive decision to cease production on Tom and Jerry and later the animation studio on May 15, 1957. The final cartoon produced by Hanna and Barbera, Tot Watchers, was released on August 1, 1958. The pair were fired and focused on own production company Hanna-Barbera Productions, which went on to produce such popular animated television series including The Flintstones, Yogi Bear, The Jetsons and Scooby-Doo.

Production formats
Before 1954, all Tom and Jerry cartoons were produced in the standard Academy ratio and format; in 1954 and 1955, some of the output was dually produced in dual versions: one Academy-ratio negative composed for a flat widescreen (1.75:1) format and one shot in the CinemaScope process. From 1955 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. All of the Hanna and Barbera cartoons were shot as successive color exposure negatives in Technicolor.

Gene Deitch era (1961–1962)
In 1961, MGM revived the Tom and Jerry franchise, and contracted European animation studio Rembrandt Films to produce 13 Tom and Jerry shorts in Prague, Czechoslovakia. All were directed by Gene Deitch and produced by William L. Snyder. Deitch himself wrote most of the cartoons, with occasional assistance from Larz Bourne and Eli Bauer. Štěpán Koníček provided the musical score for the Deitch shorts. Sound effects were produced by electronic music composer Tod Dockstader and Deitch. The majority of vocal effects and voices in Deitch's films were provided by Allen Swift and Deitch.

Deitch states that, being a "UPA man", he was not a fan of the Tom and Jerry cartoons, thinking they were "needlessly violent". However, after being assigned to work on the series, he quickly realized that "nobody took [the violence] seriously", and it was merely "a parody of exaggerated human emotions". He also came to see what he perceived as the "biblical roots" in Tom and Jerry's conflict, similar to David and Goliath, stating "That's where we feel a connection to these cartoons: the little guy can win (or at least survive) to fight another day."

Since the Deitch/Snyder team had seen only a handful of the original Tom and Jerry shorts, and since the team produced their cartoons on a tighter budget of $10,000, the resulting films were considered surrealist in nature, though this was not Deitch's intention. The animation was limited and jerky in movement, compared to the more fluid Hanna-Barbera shorts. Background art was done in a more simplistic, angular, Art Deco-esque style. The soundtracks featured sparse and echoic electronic music, futuristic sound effects, heavy reverb, and dialogue that was mumbled rather than spoken. According to Jen Nessel of The New York Times, "The Czech style had nothing in common with these gag-driven cartoons."

Whereas Hanna-Barbera's shorts generally took place in and outside of a house, Deitch's shorts opted for more exotic locations, such as a 19th-century whaling ship, the jungles of Nairobi, an Ancient Greek acropolis, or the Wild West. In addition, Mammy Two-Shoes was replaced as Tom's owner by a bald, overweight, short-tempered, middle-aged white man, who bore a striking resemblance to Clint Clobber. Just like Spike the Bulldog, he is also much more brutal and violent in punishing Tom's actions as compared to previous owners, often beating and thrashing Tom repeatedly.

To avoid being linked to Communism, Deitch romanized the Czech names of his crew in the opening credits of the shorts (e.g. Stêpan Koniček became "Steven Konichek" and Vaclav Lidl became "Victor Little" ). In addition, these shorts are among the few Tom and Jerry cartoons not to carry the "Made In Hollywood, U.S.A." phrase on the end title card; due to Deitch's studio being behind the Iron Curtain, the production studio's location is omitted entirely on it. After the 13 shorts were completed, Joe Vogel, the head of production, was fired from MGM. Vogel had approved of Deitch and his team's work, but MGM decided not to renew their contract after Vogel's departure. The final of the 13 shorts, Carmen Get It!, was released on December 21, 1962.

Deitch's shorts were commercial successes. In 1961, the Tom and Jerry series became the highest-grossing animated short film series of that time, dethroning Looney Tunes, which had held the position for 16 years; this success was repeated once more in 1962. However, unlike the Hanna-Barbera shorts, none of Deitch's films were nominated for nor did they win an Academy Award. In retrospect, these shorts are often considered the worst of the Tom and Jerry theatrical output.[22] Deitch stated that due to his team's inexperience as well as their low budget, he "hardly had a chance to succeed", and "well understand[s] the negative reactions" to his shorts. He believes "They could all have been better animated – truer to the characters – but our T&Js were produced in the early 1960s, near the beginning of my presence here, over a half-century ago as I write this!" Despite the criticism, some fans wrote positive letters to Deitch, stating that his Tom and Jerry shorts were their personal favorites due to their quirky and surreal nature.[26] The shorts were released on DVD in 2015 in Tom and Jerry: The Gene Deitch Collection.

Production formats
The 1960s entries were done in Metrocolor but returned to the standard Academy ratio and format.

Chuck Jones era (1963–1967)
After the last of the Deitch cartoons were released, Chuck Jones, who had been fired from his 30-plus year tenure at Warner Bros. Cartoons, started his own animation studio, Sib Tower 12 Productions (later renamed MGM Animation/Visual Arts), with partner Les Goldman. Beginning in 1963, Jones and Goldman went on to produce 34 more Tom and Jerry shorts, all of which carried Jones' distinctive style (and a slight psychedelic influence).

Jones had trouble adapting his style to Tom and Jerry's brand of humor, and a number of the cartoons favored full animation, personality and style over storyline. The characters underwent a slight change of appearance: Tom was given thicker eyebrows (resembling Jones' Grinch, Count Blood Count or Wile E. Coyote), a less complex look (including the color of his fur becoming gray), sharper ears, longer tail and furrier cheeks (resembling Jones' Claude Cat or Sylvester), while Jerry was given larger eyes and ears, a lighter brown color, and a sweeter, Porky Pig-like expression.

Some of Jones' Tom and Jerry cartoons are reminiscent of his work with Wile E. Coyote and the Road Runner, included the uses of blackout gags and gags involving characters falling from high places. Jones co-directed the majority of the shorts with layout artist Maurice Noble. The remaining shorts were directed by Abe Levitow and Ben Washam, with Tom Ray directing two shorts built around footage from earlier Tom and Jerry cartoons directed by Hanna and Barbera, and Jim Pabian directed a short with Maurice Noble. Various vocal characteristics were made by Mel Blanc, June Foray and even Jones himself. These shorts contain a memorable opening theme, in which Tom first replaces the MGM lion, then is trapped inside the "O" of his name.

Though Jones's shorts were generally considered an improvement over Deitch's, they nevertheless had varying degrees of critical success. MGM ceased production of Tom and Jerry shorts in 1967, by which time Jones had moved on to television specials and the feature film The Phantom Tollbooth. The shorts were released on DVD in 2009 in Tom and Jerry: The Chuck Jones Collection.

Tom and Jerry hit television
Beginning in 1965, the Hanna and Barbera Tom and Jerry cartoons began to appear on television in heavily edited versions. The Jones team was required to take the cartoons featuring Mammy Two Shoes and remove her by pasting over the scenes featuring her with new scenes. Most of the time, she was replaced with a similarly fat white Irish woman; occasionally, as in Saturday Evening Puss, a thin white teenager took her place instead, with both characters voiced by June Foray. However, recent telecasts on Cartoon Network and Boomerang retain Mammy with new voiceover work performed by Thea Vidale to remove the stereotypical black jargon featured on the original cartoon soundtracks. The standard Tom and Jerry opening titles were removed as well. Instead of the roaring MGM Lion sequence, an opening sequence featuring different clips of the cartoons was used instead. The title cards were also changed. A pink title card with the name written in white font was used instead.

Debuting on CBS' Saturday morning schedule on September 25, 1965, Tom and Jerry moved to CBS Sundays two years later and remained there until September 17, 1972.

Second Hanna-Barbera era: The Tom and Jerry Show (1975)
In 1975, Tom and Jerry were reunited with Hanna and Barbera, who produced new Tom and Jerry cartoons for Saturday mornings. These 48 seven-minute short cartoons were paired with Grape Ape and Mumbly cartoons, to create The Tom and Jerry/Grape Ape Show, The Tom and Jerry/Grape Ape/Mumbly Show, and The Tom and Jerry/Mumbly Show, all of which initially ran on ABC Saturday mornings between September 6, 1975, and September 3, 1977. In these cartoons, Tom and Jerry (now with a red bow tie), who had been enemies during their formative years, became nonviolent pals who went on adventures together, as Hanna-Barbera had to meet the stringent rules against violence for children's TV. This 1975-styled format was no longer used in the newer Tom and Jerry entrees.

Filmation era (1980–1982)
Filmation Studios (in association with MGM Television) also tried their hands at producing a Tom and Jerry TV series. Their version, The Tom and Jerry Comedy Show, debuted in 1980, and also featured new cartoons starring Droopy, Spike (from Tom & Jerry, and the same version also used in Droopy), Slick Wolf, and Barney Bear, not seen since the original MGM shorts. The Filmation Tom and Jerry cartoons were noticeably different from Hanna-Barbera's efforts, as they returned Tom and Jerry to the original chase formula, with a somewhat more "slapstick" humor format. This incarnation, much like the 1975 version, was not as well-received by audiences as the originals, and lasted on CBS Saturday mornings from September 6, 1980, to September 4, 1982.

Tom and Jerry's new owners
In 1986, MGM was purchased by WTBS founder Ted Turner. Turner sold the company a short while later, but retained MGM's pre-1986 film library, thus Tom and Jerry became the property of Turner Entertainment Co. (where the rights stand today via Warner Bros.), and have in subsequent years appeared on Turner-run stations, such as TBS, TNT, Cartoon Network, The WB, Boomerang, and Turner Classic Movies.

Third Hanna-Barbera era: Tom and Jerry Kids (1990–1994)
One of the biggest trends for Saturday morning television in the 1980s and 1990s was the child versions of famous classic cartoon stars "babyfication" of older, classic cartoon stars, and on March 2, 1990, Tom and Jerry Kids, co-produced by Turner Entertainment Co. and Hanna-Barbera Productions (which would be sold to Turner in 1991) debuted on Fox Kids and for a few years, aired on British children's block, CBBC. It featured a youthful version of the famous cat-and-mouse duo chasing each other. As with the 1975 H-B series, Jerry wears his red bowtie, while Tom now wears a red cap. Spike and his son Tyke (who now had talking dialogue) and Droopy and his son Dripple, appeared in back-up segments for the show, which ran until November 18, 1994. Tom and Jerry Kids was the last Tom and Jerry cartoon series produced in 4:3 (full screen) aspect ratio.

One-off productions (2001; 2005)
In 2001, a new television special titled Tom and Jerry: The Mansion Cat premiered on Boomerang. It featured Joe Barbera (who was also a creative consultant) as the voice of Tom's owner, whose face is never seen. In this cartoon, Jerry, housed in a habitrail, is as much of a house pet as Tom is, and their owner has to remind Tom to not "blame everything on the mouse".

In 2005, a new Tom and Jerry theatrical short, titled The Karate Guard, which had been written and directed by Barbera and Spike Brandt, storyboarded by Joseph Barbera and Iwao Takamoto and produced by Joseph Barbera, Spike Brandt, and Tony Cervone premiered in Los Angeles cinemas on September 27, 2005. As part of the celebration of Tom and Jerry's sixty-fifth anniversary, this marked Barbera's first return as a writer, director and storyboard artist on the series since his and Hanna's original MGM cartoon shorts, and last overall; he would die shortly after production ended. Director/animator, Spike Brandt was nominated for an Annie award for best character animation. The short debuted on Cartoon Network on January 27, 2006.

Production format
The 2005 short The Karate Guard was filmed in the standard Academy ratio and format.

Warner Bros. era (2006–present)
During the first half of 2006, a new series called Tom and Jerry Tales was produced at Warner Bros. Animation. Thirteen half-hour episodes (each consisting of three shorts, some of them—like The Karate Guard—were produced and completed in 2003 as part of a 30-plus theatrical cartoon schedule aborted after the financial disaster of Looney Tunes: Back in Action) were produced, with only markets outside of the United States and United Kingdom signed up. The show then came to the UK in February 2006 on Boomerang, and it went to the U.S. on Kids' WB on The CW. Tales is the first Tom and Jerry TV series that utilizes the original style of the classic shorts, along with the slapstick. The series was canceled in 2008, shortly before the Kids' WB block shut down. Tales is also the first Tom and Jerry production presented in 16: 9 widescreen aspect ratio (which was aired on Cartoon Network in the United States) but cropped to 4:3 fullscreen aspect ratio (which was aired on The CW and Boomerang in the United States).

Cartoon Network, which began rerunning the Tom and Jerry Tales in January 2012, subsequently aired a second series consisting of two 11-minute shorts per episode that likewise sought to maintain the look, core characters and sensibility of the original theatrical shorts. Similar to other reboot works like Scooby-Doo! Mystery Incorporated and The Looney Tunes Show, several episodes the new series brought Tom and Jerry into contemporary environments, telling new stories and relocating the characters to more fantastic worlds, from a medieval castle to a mad scientist's lab. Titled The Tom and Jerry Show, the series is produced by Warner Bros. Animation, with Sam Register serving as executive producer in collaboration with Darrell Van Citters and Ashley Postelwaite at Renegade Animation. Originally slated for an undated 2013 Cartoon Network premiere before being pushed back to April 9, 2014, this is the second Tom and Jerry production presented in 16: 9 widescreen aspect ratio.

In November 2014, a two-minute sketch was shown as part of the Children In Need Telethon in the United Kingdom, the sketch was produced as a collaboration with Warner Bros.

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Without them, there would be no Itchy and Scratchy!

7 replies, 375 views

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Reply 80 Years Ago Today; Tom and Jerry premieres in theaters (Original post)
Dennis Donovan Monday OP
benld74 Monday #1
Dennis Donovan Monday #2
burrowowl Monday #3
USALiberal Monday #4
Dennis Donovan Monday #5
Tanuki Monday #6
eleny Monday #7

Response to Dennis Donovan (Original post)

Mon Feb 10, 2020, 09:18 PM

1. Tom & Jerry are great

From a 63 year old kiddo

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Response to benld74 (Reply #1)

Mon Feb 10, 2020, 09:31 PM

2. I find the de-evolution of Hanna-Barbera's animation from 1940 to the 60's fascinating

Looking at the early T & J cartoons, the animation was rich, backgrounds not always static, overall, visually pleasing. FF to Hanna-Barbera in the 1960's (Flintstones, Jetsons, Top Cat) and the backgrounds were fixed, only eyes and lips moved (or just arms and legs when walking) and was generally inferior to their earlier work.

My faves as a kid were anything pre-1950, like Popeye, T & J, Bugs, etc.

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Response to Dennis Donovan (Original post)

Mon Feb 10, 2020, 09:33 PM

3. Thanks for info!

I liked the cartoons at the movies, if the movie wasn't too hot at least you had the cartoons.

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Response to USALiberal (Reply #4)

Mon Feb 10, 2020, 09:40 PM

5. Ha!

"Bring Tom with you."

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Response to Dennis Donovan (Original post)

Mon Feb 10, 2020, 09:45 PM

6. ......

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Response to Dennis Donovan (Original post)

Mon Feb 10, 2020, 11:50 PM

7. My dad would literally bellow with laughter during T&J cartoons

We'd be sitting in the movie house and a Tom & Jerry cartoon would start and there was my dad with wide open mouth laughing his head off. That was back in the day when audiences applauded at the end of the feature.

Tom & Jerry wasn't my favorite. But flooding the kitchen and turning it into an ice skating rink with help from the freezer was genius. I appreciate the old ones now.

I'm an early cartoon fan having been raised on Farmer Brown fighting mice with polka music playing in the background. And the beauty of colorful cartoons from the 30s is a priceless part of our culture, imo.

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