Tom and Jerry is an American animated franchise and series of comedy short films created in by William Hanna and Joseph Barbera. Best known for its theatrical short films by Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer , the series centers on the rivalry between the titular characters of a cat named Tom and a mouse named Jerry.
Many shorts also feature several recurring characters. Tom and Jerry then became the highest-grossing animated short film series of that time, overtaking Looney Tunes. Chuck Jones then produced another 34 shorts with Sib Tower 12 Productions between and A musical adaptation of the series, titled Tom and Jerry: Purr-Chance to Dream , debuted in Japan in in advance of Tom and Jerry ' s 80th anniversary. The series features comic fights between an iconic pair of adversaries, a house cat Tom and a mouse Jerry.
The plots of each short usually center on Tom and Jerry's numerous attempts to have the best of each other and the mayhem and destruction that follows. Despite Tom's clever strategies whether they work or not , determined and energetic mindset, large size, and exceptional overall intelligence, he rarely succeeds in getting the best of Jerry, mainly because of Jerry's cunning abilities, luck, and his lack of tendencies in being a bit too reckless. However, on several occasions, they have displayed genuine friendship and concern for each other's well-being.
At other times, the pair set aside their rivalry in order to pursue a common goal, such as when a baby escapes the watch of a negligent babysitter, causing Tom and Jerry to pursue the baby and keep it away from danger, in the shorts Busy Buddies and Tot Watchers respectively.
Despite their endless attacks on one another, they have saved each other's lives every time they were truly in danger. The cartoons are known for some of the most violent cartoon gags ever devised in theatrical animation: Tom may use axes, hammers, firearms, firecrackers, explosives, traps and poison to kill Jerry. On the other hand, Jerry's methods of retaliation are far more violent, with frequent success, including slicing Tom in half, decapitating him, shutting his head or fingers in a window or a door, stuffing Tom's tail in a waffle iron or a mangle , kicking him into a refrigerator, getting him electrocuted, pounding him with a mace , club or mallet , letting a tree or electric pole drive him into the ground, sticking matches into his feet and lighting them, tying him to a firework and setting it off, and so on.
However, there is no blood or gore in any scene. Music plays a very important part in the shorts, emphasizing the action, filling in for traditional sound effects, and lending emotion to the scenes. Musical director Scott Bradley created complex scores that combined elements of jazz , classical, and pop music; Bradley often reprised contemporary pop songs, as well as songs from MGM films, including The Wizard of Oz and Meet Me in St.
Louis , which both starred Judy Garland in a leading role. Generally, there is little dialogue as Tom and Jerry almost never speak; however, minor characters are not similarly limited, and the two lead characters do speak English on rare occasions. For example, the character Mammy Two Shoes has lines in nearly every cartoon in which she appears. Most of the vocal effects used for Tom and Jerry are their high-pitched laughs and gasping screams. Tom named "Jasper" in his debut appearance is a gray and white mute domestic shorthair cat.
He is usually but not always, portrayed as living a comfortable, or even pampered life, while Jerry named "Jinx" in his debut appearance is a small, brown mute, house mouse who always lives in close proximity to Tom. Despite being very energetic, determined and much larger, Tom is no match for Jerry's wits. Jerry also possesses surprising strength for his size, approximately the equivalent of Tom's, lifting items such as anvils with relative ease and withstanding considerable impacts.
By the final "fade-out" of each cartoon, Jerry usually gets the best of Tom. However, other results may be reached. On rare occasions, Tom triumphs, usually when Jerry becomes the aggressor or he pushes Tom a little too far.
In The Million Dollar Cat Jerry learns that Tom will lose his newly acquired wealth if he harms any animal, especially mice; he then torments Tom a little too much until he retaliates. In Timid Tabby Tom's look-alike cousin pushes Jerry over the edge. Occasionally and usually ironically, they both lose, usually because Jerry's last trap or attack on Tom backfires on him or he overlooks something.
Afterward, the shark scares Jerry away as well. Finally, they occasionally end up being friends, although, within this set of stories, there is often a last-minute event that ruins the truce. One cartoon that has a friendly ending is Snowbody Loves Me. Both characters display sadistic tendencies, in that they are equally likely to take pleasure in tormenting each other, although it is often in response to a triggering event. However, when one character appears to truly be in mortal danger from an unplanned situation or due to actions by a third party, the other will develop a conscience and save him.
Occasionally, they bond over a mutual sentiment towards an unpleasant experience and their attacking each other is more play than serious attacks. Multiple shorts show the two getting along with minimal difficulty, and they are more than capable of working together when the situation calls for it, usually against a third party who manages to torture and humiliate them both.
Sometimes this partnership is forgotten quickly when an unexpected event happens, or when one character feels that the other is no longer necessary. This is the case in Posse Cat , when they agree that Jerry will allow himself to be caught if Tom agrees to share his reward dinner, but Tom then reneges.
Other times, however, Tom does keep his promise to Jerry and the partnerships are not quickly dissolved after the problem is solved. Tom changes his love interest many times. He is also interested in a cat called Toots in The Zoot Cat although she has a different appearance to the original Toots. The most frequent love interest of Tom's is Toodles Galore , who never has any dialogue in the cartoons. Despite five shorts ending with a depiction of Tom's apparent death, his demise is never permanent; he even reads about his own death in a flashback in Jerry's Diary.
He appears to die in explosions in Mouse Trouble after which he is seen in heaven , Yankee Doodle Mouse and in Safety Second , while in The Two Mouseketeers he is guillotined offscreen. The short Blue Cat Blues ends with both Tom and Jerry sitting on the railroad tracks with the intent of suicide while the whistle of an oncoming train is heard foreshadowing their imminent death.
Although many supporting and minor characters speak, Tom and Jerry rarely do so themselves. One exception is The Lonesome Mouse where they speak several times briefly, primarily Jerry, to contrive to get Tom back into the house. In that short and Zoot Cat , Tom woos female cats using a deep, heavily French-accented voice in imitation of then-popular leading man, actor Charles Boyer. Co-director William Hanna provided most of the squeaks, gasps, and other vocal effects for the pair, including the most famous sound effects from the series, Tom's leather-lunged scream created by recording Hanna's scream and eliminating the beginning and ending of the recording, leaving only the strongest part of the scream on the soundtrack and Jerry's nervous gulp.
The only other reasonably common vocalization is made by Tom when some external reference claims a certain scenario or eventuality to be impossible, which inevitably, ironically happens to thwart Tom's plans — at which point, a bedraggled and battered Tom appears and says in a haunting, echoing voice "Don't you believe it! In the short Trap Happy , Tom hires a cat disguised as a mouse exterminator who, after several failed attempts to dispatch Jerry and suffering a lot of accidents in the process, changes profession to Cat exterminator by crossing out the "Mouse" on his title and writing "CAT", resulting in Tom spelling out the word out loud before reluctantly pointing at himself.
One short, 's Blue Cat Blues , is narrated by Jerry in voiceover voiced by Paul Frees as they try to win back their ladyfriends. Tom and Jerry: The Movie is the first and so far only installment of the series where the famous cat-and-mouse duo regularly speaks.
In his attempts to catch Jerry, Tom often has to deal with Spike known as "Killer" and "Butch" in some shorts , an angry, vicious but easily duped bulldog who tries to attack Tom for bothering him or his son Tyke while trying to get Jerry.
Originally, Spike was unnamed and mute aside from howls and biting noises as well as attacking indiscriminately, not caring whether it was Tom or Jerry though usually attacking Tom. In later cartoons, Spike spoke often, using a voice and expressions performed by Billy Bletcher and later Daws Butler modeled after comedian Jimmy Durante.
Spike's coat has altered throughout the years between gray and creamy tan. The addition of Spike's son Tyke in the late s led to both a slight softening of Spike's character and a short-lived spin-off theatrical series Spike and Tyke. Most cartoons with Spike in them conform to a theme: usually, Spike is trying to accomplish something such as building a dog house or sleeping when Tom and Jerry's antics stop him doing it. Spike then presumably due to prejudice singles out Tom as the culprit, and threatens him that if it ever happens again, he will do "something horrible" to him effectively forcing Tom to take the blame while Jerry overhears; afterward, Jerry usually does anything he can to interrupt whatever Spike is doing while Tom barely manages to stop him usually getting injured in the process.
Usually, Jerry does eventually wreck whatever Spike is doing in spectacular fashion and leaves Tom to take the blame, forcing him to flee from Spike and inevitably lose usually because Tom is usually framed by Jerry and that Spike just doesn't like Tom. Off-screen, Spike does something to Tom and finally, Tom is generally shown injured or in a bad situation while Jerry smugly cuddles up to Spike unscathed.
Tom sometimes gets irritated with Spike an example is in That's My Pup! At least once, however, Tom does something that benefits Spike, who promises not to interfere ever again; causing Jerry to frantically leave the house and run into the distance in Hic-cup Pup. Spike is well known for his famous " Listen pussycat! Tyke is described as a cute, sweet-looking, happy and lovable puppy.
He is Spike's son; but unlike Spike, Tyke does not speak and only communicates mostly towards his father by barking, yapping, wagging his tail, whimpering and growling. Spike would always go out of his way to care and comfort his son and make sure that he is safe from Tom. Tyke loves his father and Spike loves his son and they get along like friends, although most of time they would be taking a nap or Spike would teach Tyke the main facts of life of being a dog. Like Spike, Tyke's appearance has altered throughout the years, from gray with white paws to creamy tan.
Butch is a black, cigar-smoking alley cat who also wants to eat Jerry. He is Tom's most frequent adversary. However, for most of the shorts he appears in, he is usually seen rivaling Tom over Toodles. Butch was also Tom's chum as in some cartoons, where Butch is leader of Tom's alley cat buddies, who are mostly Lightning , Topsy , and Meathead. Butch talks more often than Tom or Jerry in most shorts. Butch and Toodles were originally introduced in Hugh Harman 's short The Alley Cat , but were integrated into Tom and Jerry rather than continuing in their own series.
Nibbles is a small gray mouse who often appears in shorts as Jerry's nephew. He is a carefree individual who very rarely understands the danger of the situation, simply following instructions the best he can both to Jerry's command and his own innocent understanding of the situation.
This can lead to such results as "getting the cheese" by simply asking Tom to pick it up for him, rather than following Jerry's example of outmaneuvering and sneaking around Tom.
Many times Nibbles is an ally of Jerry in fights against Tom, including being the second Mouseketeer. He is given speaking roles in all his appearances as a Mouseketeer, often with a high-pitched French tone.
However, during a short in which he rescued Robin Hood, his voice was instead more masculine, gruff, and cockney accented. Mammy Two Shoes is a heavy-set, middle-aged black woman who often has to deal with the mayhem generated by the lead characters. Voiced by character actress Lillian Randolph , she is often seen as the owner of Tom.
Her face was only shown once, very briefly, in Saturday Evening Puss. Mammy's appearances have often been edited out, dubbed, or re-animated as a slim white woman in later television showings, since her character is a mammy archetype now often regarded as racist.
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". 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.
Leonard Maltin described it as "very new and special [ 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. Hanna and Barbera made minor adjustments to Tom and Jerry's appearance so they would "age gracefully". Hanna and Barbera produced 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. The rise in television in the s caused problems for the MGM animation studio, leading to budget cuts on Tom and Jerry cartoons due to decreased revenue from theatrical screenings.
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, Before , all Tom and Jerry cartoons were produced in the standard Academy ratio and format; in and , some of the output was dually produced in dual versions: one Academy-ratio negative composed for a flat widescreen 1.