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Directors: Tex Avery
Release Date: August 3, 1946
Stars: Droopy, The Wolf
Rating:  ★★★★★ ♕
Review:

Northwest Hounded Police © MGM

In ‘Northwest Hounded Police’ Avery revisited the material of ‘Dumb Hounded‘ (1943) to make a film that is faster, more concise, more extreme, more paranoid and funnier than the original.

The idea of Droopy being everywhere is quickly established, while the focus lies on the wolf’s double takes, which get more and more extreme during the film, including the famous jaw drop. The cool part is that Droopy (or ‘Sergeant McPoodle’ as he’s called here) only has to be there to scare the wits out of the wolf. He doesn’t do anything but being there.

In the wolf’s double takes Tex Avery explores the limits of cartoon exaggeration. These extreme takes make ‘Northwest Hounded Police the epitome of animated cartoon paranoia, displaying a world of fear that has not been seen on the animated screen since the Fleischer cartoon ‘Bimbo’s Initiation’ (1931). If there should be only one classic Tex Avery cartoon, this must be it.

Watch ‘Northwest Hounded Police’ yourself and tell me what you think:

Directors: Tex Avery
Release Date: November 3, 1945
Stars: Droopy, Red, The Wolf
Rating: ★★★★★
Review:

Wild and Woolfy © MGMAfter the successful ‘The Shooting of Dan McGoo‘ Droopy from earlier that year, Red and the Wolf join forces again in ‘Wild and Woolfy’, a hilarious spoof on the classic western.

The cartoon has the simple plot of Droopy following the wolf, who has kidnapped Red after her performance of a nice country & western yodeling song. But Tex Avery once again packs the film with gags, including a wonderful and now classic empty road gag.

Film composer Scott Bradley reuses his twelve tone row he had introduced in the Tom & Jerry cartoon ‘Puttin’ on the Dog’ (1944) to accompany Droopy riding his little blue horse, with equally funny results.

Watch ‘Wild and Woolfy’ yourself and tell me what you think:

Directors: Tex Avery
Release Date: March 3, 1943
Stars: Droopy, Red, The Wolf
Rating: ★★★★★
Review:

The Shooting of Dan McGoo © MGMIn ‘his second film Droopy enters the wolf’s world of sex, joining forces with the ever sexy Red as his lover Lou, while the wolf’s the villain entering the Alaskan saloon and Droopy is ‘dangerous Dan McGoo’ himself.

The cartoon is a hilarious re-telling of the poem ‘The Shooting of Dan McGrew’ by Robert Service. It is simply packed with self-conscious gags and puns. Red is absolutely stunning, when she sings a great army song, displaying her popularity with the armed forces. Her performance remains a tour of the force of animation, courtesy of animator Preston Blair.

‘The Shooting of Dan McGoo’ was Tex Avery’s second take on Service’s poem, the first being the Warner Brothers cartoon ‘Dangerous Dan McFoo’  from 1939.

Watch ‘The Shooting of Dan McGoo’ yourself and tell me what you think:

Directors: Tex Avery
Release Date: March 20, 1943
Stars: Droopy, The Wolf
Rating: ★★★
Review:

Dumb Hounded © MGM‘Dumb Hounded’ marks the debut of Droopy, the first of all cartoon heroes to be deliberately deadpan.

He is introduced as a very slow bloodhound used to catch the escaped convict, the wolf. He manages to do so by being everywhere the wolf flees to.

Droopy’s übercalm contrasts nicely with the wolf’s extreme double-takes. The best gag is when Droopy asks the wolf not to move, whereupon the wolf uses a multitude of vehicles to flee to a very remote log cabin, only to find Droopy there, exclaiming: “you moved, didn’t you?”. This sequence has a lightning fast montage, something that is lacking from the rest of the film, whichsuffers a little from an inconsistent story line. The result is a film that is not quite satisfying in the end.

Tex Avery may have felt the same, for he would remake ‘Dumb Hounded’ only three years later with ‘Northwest Hounded Police‘, which uses the same or similar gags to a much greater comic effect.

Watch ‘Dumb Hounded’ yourself and tell me what you think:

Directors: William Hanna & Joseph Barbera
Release Date: July 7, 1945
Stars: Tom & Jerry
Rating: ★★★★★ ♕
Review:

Mouse in Manhattan © MGMTired of the country life, Jerry heads for Broadway, where he admires the big city.

Jerry’s luck is short-lived however, and after some bad experiences in the New York dumps (which involves hundreds of alley cats and scary subways), Jerry flees home, kissing a puzzled Tom in his joy.

‘Mouse in Manhattan’ is an outsider within the Tom & Jerry series, as it lacks the typical cat and mouse chase. Instead it focuses on Jerry’s journey, only. Nevertheless, it must be one of the most beautiful Tom and Jerry cartoons ever made. Jerry’s adventures in New York are accompanied by gorgeous and stunning backgrounds (most using a mouse perspective), and Scott Bradley’s particularly lush music. Bradley based his score on Louis Alter’s ‘Manhattan Serenade’ from 1928, which was also used in the MGM 1944 musical ‘Broadway Rhythm’, accompanying acrobatic stunts by the Ross Sisters. The music is so essential to the film, it almost seems the film was made for the score.

The cartoon is a sheer delight from the beginning to the end, but the highlight is Jerry’s dance with the female table figures on the roof of a very high hotel. This scene has the same class as its source of inspiration, the MGM musical.

Watch ‘Mouse in Manhattan’ yourself and tell me what you think:

This is Tom & Jerry cartoon No.19

To the previous Tom & Jerry cartoon: The Mouse Comes to Dinner
To the next Tom & Jerry cartoon: Tee for Two

Directors: William Hanna & Joseph Barbera
Release Date: December 25, 1943
Stars: Tom & Jerry, Meathead
Rating: ★★★★★
Review:

Baby Puss © MGMA little girl makes Tom behave like a baby.

Tom only reluctantly cooperates, until he discovers the milk bottle. Jerry mocks him and warns three alley cats of Tom’s baby behavior. They mock him too, all too more violently, which leads to a frantic samba finale in which the little cat does a great Carmen Miranda impersonation, singing her hit song ‘Mamãe eu quero’ from the film ‘Down Argentine Way’ (1940).

Tom’s friends, the red cat from ‘Sufferin’ Cats‘, Meathead (in his debut) and a little cat, would reunite only seven years later in ‘Saturday Evening Puss‘ (1950). Apart from the finale the greatest scene is when Jerry behaves like ‘she’ is caught naked in the bathroom of a doll house.

Watch ‘Baby Puss’ yourself and tell me what you think:

This is Tom & Jerry cartoon No.11

To the previous Tom & Jerry cartoon: Yankee Doodle Mouse
To the next Tom & Jerry cartoon: Zoot Cat

Directors: William Hanna & Joseph Barbera
Release Date: June 26, 1943
Stars: Tom & Jerry
Rating: ★★★★★
Review:

Yankee Doodle Mouse © MGMIn this Tom and Jerry short their chase routine is pictured as if it were World War II itself.

War references include a periscope, a “jeep”, (paper) planes, a bomber (throwing light bulbs), a parachute (a bra), and lots of fireworks. Tom is the clear villain now, with Jerry acting the role of the brave American soldier. At the end of the cartoon Tom explodes in the sky revealing the American flag to which Jerry salutes.

Although not a real war cartoon (Tom and Jerry do not fight Nazis or anything like that), it is drenched in war spirit. Moreover, the short is extremely fast and furious, with gags coming without any break. No wonder it won an Academy Award.

Watch ‘Yankee Doodle Mouse’ yourself and tell me what you think:

This is Tom & Jerry cartoon No.11

To the previous Tom & Jerry cartoon: The Lonesome Mouse
To the next Tom & Jerry cartoon: Baby Puss

Directors: William Hanna & Joseph Barbera
Release Date: May 22, 1943
Stars: Tom & Jerry, Mammy Two-Shoes
Rating: ★★★½
Review:

The Lonesome Mouse © MGM‘The Lonesome Mouse’ is one of those Tom & Jerry cartoons in which the two enemies work together.

When Mammy throws Tom out of the house, Jerry rejoices. He even paints an Adolf Hitler-mustache and hairdo on Tom’s portrait, But then he gets lonesome, so he and Tom set up a great fake chase to get Tom back into the house.

Highlight of this cartoon are the loony faces Jerry makes to scare Mammy. Tom and Jerry actually talk in this cartoon.

Watch ‘The Lonesome Mouse’ yourself and tell me what you think:

This is Tom & Jerry cartoon No.10

To the previous Tom & Jerry cartoon: Sufferin’ Cats
To the next Tom & Jerry cartoon: Yankee Doodle Mouse

Directors: William Hanna & Joseph Barbera
Release Date: January 16, 1943
Stars: Tom & Jerry, Meathead
Rating: ★★★★★ ♕
Review:

Sufferin' Cats © MGMIn ‘Sufferin’ Cats’ Tom and a red alley cat fight over Jerry.

‘Sufferin’ Cats’ introduces the red alley cat, who was Tom’s first rival in the series. The red cat would return in ‘Baby Puss‘ later that year, but soon he would be replaced by Meathead, a black cat.

‘Sufferin’ Cats’ is a wild and funny cartoon, which is considerably faster than all earlier Tom and Jerry shorts. The gags come in quick and plenty, and are supported by one of Scott Bradley’s all time best scores, in which Tom and Jerry’s musical themes build up to a frantic finale during the cartoon’s main chase. Metamorphosis now reaches greater hights than in ‘The Bowling Alley Cat‘, when the red cat changes into an ironing board when crashing into the gate.

With its increase in speed and violence ‘Sufferin’ Cats’ marks a new era in the Tom & Jerry Series: from now on the duo would be less cute, but much funnier.

 

Watch ‘Sufferin’ Cats’ yourself and tell me what you think:

This is Tom & Jerry cartoon No.9

To the previous Tom & Jerry cartoon: Fine Feathered Friend
To the next Tom & Jerry cartoon: The Lonesome Mouse

Directors: William Hanna & Joseph Barbera
Release Date: October 10, 1942
Stars: Tom & Jerry
Rating: ★★★★½
Review:

Fine Feathered Friend © MGMDuring a chase at the barnyard Jerry seeks shelter with a large and angry chicken.

This short contains the very first example of the extreme cartoon violence that would become so typical for the Tom and Jerry series: the scene in which Jerry tries to cut off Tom’s head with a pair of hedge-shears.

The short’s highlight, however, is Jerry’s Josephine Baker-like dance with yellow feathers when he’s trying to disguise himself as a little chick.

Watch ‘Fine Feathered Friend’ yourself and tell me what you think:

vimeo.com/54039573

This is Tom & Jerry cartoon No. 8

To the previous Tom & Jerry cartoon: The Bowling Alley Cat
To the next Tom & Jerry cartoon: Sufferin’ Cats

Directors: William Hanna & Joseph Barbera
Release Date: July 18, 1942
Stars: Tom & Jerry
Rating: ★★★★★
Review:

The Bowling Alley-Cat © MGM‘The Bowling Alley Cat’ is the first Tom and Jerry cartoon to take please outside their familiar home setting. In this short the cat and the mouse play at an abandoned bowling alley.

The short is mildly paced, but its timing is excellent and the silent comedy delightful, supported by Scott Bradley’s excellent score.

The film contains an early example of metamorphosis, in which Tom changes into a familiar household object, this time a ninepin. This type of metamorphosis would become a recurrent gag in the Tom & Jerry series. Compared to later entries Tom’s deformation in ‘The Bowling Alley Cat’ is mild, and still a little plausible. This kind of plausibility was abandoned the next year in the more frantic cartoon ‘Sufferin’ Cats‘.

Watch ‘The Bowling Alley Cat’ yourself and tell me what you think:

This is Tom & Jerry cartoon No. 7

To the previous Tom & Jerry cartoon: Puss ‘n Toots
To the next Tom & Jerry cartoon: Fine Feathered Friend

Directors: William Hanna & Joseph Barbera
Release Date: March 21, 1953
Stars: Tom & Jerry
Rating: ★★★
Review:

Johann Mouse © MGM‘Johann Mouse’ is the story of a waltzing mouse, who inhabits the home of Johann Strauss jr. in Vienna.

The mouse (Jerry) only comes out to waltz when the master plays, so when he’s out of town, the cat (Tom) learns to play waltzes to make the mouse waltz. This novelty leads to the two performing for the Austrian emperor.

‘Johann Mouse’ is a cute little fairy tale, told by a quasi-German voice over. However, the cartoon is hampered by all too economic animation. Especially Jerry’s design has become very streamlined and rather stiff in this cartoon, making his dance movements less impressive than in earlier entries.

Watch ‘Johann Mouse’ yourself and tell me what you think:

This is Tom & Jerry cartoon No. 75

To the previous Tom & Jerry cartoon: Jerry and Jumbo
To the next Tom & Jerry cartoon: That’s My Pup

Directors: William Hanna & Joseph Barbera
Release Date: February 16, 1952
Stars: Tom & Jerry
Rating: ★★★★
Review:

Duck Doctor © MGMTom is hunting ducks and he hits a little drake.

Jerry helps the duckling, dressing his wounds, but he has a hard time preventing the careless duck of being shot again. This cartoon builds up to a great finale involving an anvil.

The little drake looks and behaves like Little Quacker (see ‘Little Quacker‘ from 1950), but differs in having mature feathering. In fact, this overenthusiastic, but not too clever drake leads to greater comedy than the more famous little duckling. As a result ‘Duck Doctor’ is very entertaining, and one of the more inspired of the latter day Tom & Jerry cartoons.

Watch ‘Duck Doctor’ yourself and tell me what you think:

This is Tom & Jerry cartoon No. 64
To the previous Tom & Jerry cartoon: The Flying Cat
To the next Tom & Jerry cartoon: Two Mouseketeers

Director: William Hanna & Joseph Barbera
Release Date: January 12, 1952
Stars: Tom & Jerry
Rating:
 ★★★★★
Review:

The Flying Cat © MGMIn ‘The Flying Cat’ Jerry teams up with a canary, whom Tom wants to eat.

The chase routine that follows, gets an unexpected twist when Tom accidentally acquires some wings (out of a corset) and becomes a flying cat. It makes him a real threat to the two little creatures.

Unlike the contemporary Tom & Jerry cartoons, the ugly ‘His Mouse Friday‘ and ‘Cat Napping’, ‘The Flying Cat’ uses the simplified character designs to great effects. The cartoon is fast and full of gags, many of which involving great and inspired deformations of Tom.

Watch ‘The Flying Cat’ yourself and tell me what you think:

This is Tom & Jerry cartoon No. 63
To the previous Tom & Jerry cartoon: Cat Napping
To the next Tom & Jerry cartoon: Duck Doctor

Director: William Hanna & Joseph Barbera
Release Date: December 8, 1951
Stars: Tom & Jerry, Spike
Rating:
 ★★★½
Review:

Cat Napping © MGM‘Cat Napping’ is a blackout gag cartoon, in which Tom & Jerry are fighting over a hammock  on a hot summer day.

‘Cat Napping’ is certainly not among Tom & Jerry’s best cartoons. The gags are not all bad (the best one is when marching ants make the hammock resonate), but the comedy feels uninspired. Moreover, the story is less consistent than usual, and the gags are rather disjointed. However, the cartoon is especially hampered by rather appalling designs on Tom & Jerry, which are on the same low level as those in ‘His Mouse Friday’ from earlier that year.

http://www.metacafe.com/watch/9404702/tom_jerry_cat_napping/

This is Tom & Jerry cartoon No. 62
To the previous Tom & Jerry cartoon: Nit Witty Kitty
To the next Tom & Jerry cartoon: The Flying Cat

Director: William Hanna & Joseph Barbera
Release Date: October 6, 1951
Stars: Tom & Jerry, Mammy Two-Shoes
Rating:
 ★★★½
Review:

Nit Witty Kitty © MGMWhen Mammy hits Tom on his head with a broom, he looses his mind and thinks he’s a mouse. This to great annoyance of Jerry, because Tom eats all his cheese and wrecks his bed.

‘Nit Witty Kitty’ is a well-told cartoon, if a little bit slow and low on gags. Highlight of the cartoon are Jerry’s attempts to deliver Tom a “sharp blow on the head”.

Watch ‘Nit-witty Kitty’ yourself and tell me what you think:

This is Tom & Jerry cartoon No. 61
To the previous Tom & Jerry cartoon: Slicked-up Pup
To the next Tom & Jerry cartoon: Cat Napping

Directors: William Hanna & Joseph Barbera
Release Date: September 8,1951
Stars: Tom & Jerry, Spike & Tyke
Rating: ★★★
Review:

Slicked-up Pup © MGMWhile chasing Jerry Tom makes Tyke dirty.

Spike threatens Tom he’ll tear him limb for limb, when he makes Tyke dirty again. So Tom does his best to keep Tyke clean. To no avail, because, as expected, Jerry takes advantage of the situation. ‘Slicked-up Pup’ is based on a routine that goes all the way back to Tom & Jerry’s very first film (‘Puss gets the Boot’ from 1940). Unfortunately, it has all been done before, even with cleaning (‘Mouse Cleaning‘ from 1948), and with Spike & Tyke (‘Love That Pup‘ from 1949). The result is less amusing than any of the previous films. The best gag may be when Tom pretends Tyke to be a chicken.

Watch ‘Slicked-up Pup’ yourself and tell me what you think:

This is Tom & Jerry cartoon No. 60
To the previous Tom & Jerry cartoon: His Mouse Friday
To the next Tom & Jerry cartoon: Nit-witty Kitty

Director: William Hanna & Joseph Barbera
Release Date: July 7, 1951
Stars: Tom & Jerry
Rating:
 ★★
Review:

His Mouse Friday © MGMSomehow Tom is shipwrecked. He’s washed ashore a tropical island where he meets a Crusoe-like Jerry, whom he wants to eat.

In what must be the film’s highlight Jerry fools him by pretending to be a cannibalistic native, but in the end both characters have to flee for real cannibals, the first human beings we see in their entirety in a Tom & Jerry film

‘His Mouse Friday’ must be one of the least inspired Tom & Jerry cartoons ever. Not only are the two completely out of place on the tropical island, the comedy feels tired, the humor is offensive, and the designs of our heroes mediocre. Tom’s designs in the opening scene are particularly sloppy. It seems that these designs inspired the Gene Deitch cartoons, because they look remarkably similar, which is no advertisement.

Unfortunately, ‘His Mouse Friday’ is no isolated incident. From mid-1951 on, we see the quality of the series gradually deteriorate: character designs get simpler and sloppier, backgrounds less lush, and stories more routine or uninspired. There were still some great Tom & Jerry cartoons to come, and even two Oscar winners, but one nonetheless gets the impression that by mid-1951 their heyday was over.

Watch ‘His Mouse Friday’ yourself and tell me what you think:

This is Tom & Jerry cartoon No. 59
To the previous Tom & Jerry cartoon: Sleepy Time Tom
To the next Tom & Jerry cartoon: Slicked-up Pup

Directors: William Hanna & Joseph Barbera
Release Date: May 26,1951
Stars: Tom & Jerry, Mammy Two-Shoes, Meathead
Rating: ★★★★★ ♕
Review:

Sleepy Time Tom © MGMTom has been hanging out all night with three other cats.

He comes home early in the morning, only to meet a very angry Mammy. The same night Jerry has plundered the kitchen, so Mammy orders Tom to stay awake to chase the mouse away. Not an easy task for the exhausted Tom. Especially when Jerry repeatedly makes him fall asleep. In the end Tom is thrown out, only to be picked up again by his friends for another long night out…

‘Sleepy Time Tom’ is a hilarious cartoon with great gags and wonderful animation involving Tom’s feeble attempts to stay awake. Together with ‘Daffy Duck Slept Here‘ from 1948, its’arguably the funniest cartoon about sleep ever, outdoing other great cartoons, the Woody Woodpecker cartoon ‘Coo-Coo Bird’ (1947),  the Donald Duck shorts ‘Fall out-Fall in’ (1944), ‘Sleepy Time Donald’ (1947), and ‘Drip Dippy Donald’ (1948), or the similar Pluto short ‘Cat Nap Pluto‘ (1948).

One may indeed consider ‘Sleepy Time Tom’ to be the last of the classic Tom & Jerry cartoons. Although other funny Tom & Jerry shorts would be made in the years to come, the average quality of the designs, animation and stories would only diminish during the rest of the fifties.

Watch ‘Sleepy Time Tom’ yourself and tell me what you think:

This is Tom & Jerry cartoon No. 58
To the previous Tom & Jerry cartoon: Jerry’s Cousin
To the next Tom & Jerry cartoon: His Mouse Friday

Directors: William Hanna & Joseph Barbera
Release Date: April 7, 1951
Stars: Tom & Jerry
Rating: ★★★★★ ♕
Review:

Jerry's Cousin © MGMIn the great opening shot of ‘Jerry’s Cousin’ we see multiple cats being clobbered by what turns out to be a very muscular mouse.

This mouse happens to be Jerry’s cousin. He receives a letter in which Jerry asks ‘cousin muscles’ for help, having ‘serious trouble with Tom’. Muscles takes care of Tom alright, but only after he defeats the three ‘Dirty Job’ cats Tom called in, Tom surrenders. In the future, Jerry will be safe. His surprised smile at the end of the cartoon is priceless.

‘Jerry’s Cousin’ is one of the Tom & Jerry classics. It’s a great gag cartoon, its storytelling and timing are both perfect, and it makes clever use of the invincibility theme.

Watch ‘Jerry’s Cousin’ yourself and tell me what you think:

This is Tom & Jerry cartoon No. 57
To the previous Tom & Jerry cartoon: Jerry and the Goldfish
To the next Tom & Jerry cartoon: Sleepy Time Tom

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