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Directors: Chuck Jones & Abe Levitow
Release Date: January 10, 1959
Stars: Bugs Bunny
Rating: ★★★★½

Baton Bunny © Warner Bros.

‘Baton Bunny’ is the last of Chuck Jones’s great tributes to classical music, following ‘Long-Haired Hare‘ (1949), ‘Rabbit of Seville‘ (1950) and ‘What’s Opera, doc?‘ (1957).

The short also forms the closing chapter on a long tradition of concert cartoons with cartoon stars conducting, which goes all the way back to the Mickey Mouse short ‘The Barnyard Concert‘ from 1930. True, ‘Baton Bunny’ is not the last of such cartoons (it was e.g. followed by MGM’s ‘Carmen Get It (1962) starring Tom & Jerry, and ‘Pink, Plunk, Plink‘ (1966) starring the Pink Panther), but these cartoons are hardly the classics ‘Baton Bunny’ certainly is.

Bugs Bunny is the sole performer in the cartoon – we don’t even see the orchestra members, only their instruments. Bugs Bunny and the orchestra play Franz von Suppés overture ‘Morning, Noon and Night in Vienna’ (1844), which Bugs conducts not only with his hands, but also with his ears and feet. Like earlier conductors Mickey (‘The Band Concert‘, 1935) and Tom (‘Tom & Jerry at the Hollywood Bowl‘, 1950) Bugs has some troubles while conducting: with a fly, echoing Mickey’s problems with a bee in ‘The Band Concert’, and with his collar and cuffs, echoing Mickey’s problems with his over-sized costume. Highlight is Bugs’ reenactment of a Western pursuit featuring a cowboy, an Indian and the cavalry, only using his ears to change into each character.

But throughout the cartoon Bugs is beautifully animated, with strong expressions, and deft hand movements. It’s a sheer pity that in the end, the fly turns out to be Bugs’ only audience. But Bugs is not too proud to bow for the tiny creature that had troubled him so much just before. Apart from the animation and Michael Maltese’s entertaining story, ‘Baton Bunny’ profits from Maurice Noble’s beautiful background art, and great staging. Thus the short is a wonderful testimony of Warner Bros. cartoon art of the late fifties.

Watch ‘Baton Bunny’ yourself and tell me what you think:

This is Bugs Bunny cartoon No. 140
To the previous Bugs Bunny cartoon: Pre-hysterical Hare
To the next Bugs Bunny cartoon: Hare-Abian Nights

‘Baton Bunny’ is available on the DVD-box ‘The Looney Tunes Golden Collection Volume 1″

Director: Abe Levitow
Release date: May 5, 1967
Stars: Tom & Jerry
Rating:  ★★½

Surf-Bored Cat © MGMIn this short, Tom and Jerry are apparently on a cruise somewhere in the Pacific.

When Tom sees people surf, he naturally wants to join in. This leads to a cartoon full of gags, one of which is reused from the Disney classic ‘Hawaiian Holiday'(1937), then thirty years old. It also contains one gag that would have made Hanna and Barbera proud if it had been timed better. Now, most of the action is plain tiresome, resulting in yet another mediocre entry in Chuck Jones’s Tom & Jerry series.

Watch ‘Surf-Bored Cat’ yourself and tell me what you think:

This is Tom & Jerry cartoon No. 159

To the previous Tom & Jerry cartoon: The Mouse from H.U.N.G.E.R.
To the next Tom & Jerry cartoon: Shutter Bugged Cat

Director: Abe Levitow
Release date: April 21, 1967
Stars: Tom & Jerry
Rating:  ★★★★

The Mouse from H.U.N.G.E.R. © MGMAs the title implies, this is a parody on the popular secret agent series ‘The Man from U.N.C.L.E.'(which aired from 1964 to 1968).

in this short Jerry is a secret agent who is after a huge stock of cheese, kept in a safe and heavily guarded by the evil ‘Tom Thrush’ (THRUSH was the arch-villain organisation of U.N.C.L.E. In the original series).

Director Abe Levitow and story man Bob Ogle clearly enjoy spoofing the spy cliches. The two are greatly helped by composer Dean Elliott, who provides a very apt sixties spy film musical score. This makes this entry also enjoyable for people who have never watched the original series, but who are familiar with, for example, James Bond.

This short has little to do with Tom & Jerry as originally conceived by Hanna and Barbera, but it is an entertaining cartoon, nonetheless. The film was to be the duo’s last enjoyable theatrical cartoon.

Watch ‘The Mouse from H.U.N.G.E.R.’ yourself and tell me what you think:

This is Tom & Jerry cartoon No. 158

To the previous Tom & Jerry cartoon: Cannery Rodent
To the next Tom & Jerry cartoon: Surf-Bored Cat

Director: Abe Levitow
Release date: April 7, 1967
Stars: Tom & Jerry
Rating:  ★★★★

Rock 'n' Rodent © MGMAfter directing seven terrible cartoons, Abe Lebitow suddenly strikes with ‘Rock ‘n Rodent’.

The story, by Bob Ogle, is inspired, if not anything new (it’s in fact the reverse of the classic Tom & Jerry cartoon ‘Saturday Evening Puss‘ from 1950): when Tom goes to sleep, Jerry rises to play drums with his hep-cat mice friends in the nightclub ‘Le Cellar Smoqué’.

This, of course, keeps Tom awake, and he desperately tries to get rid of the mice, only to succeed in bothering a large bulldog living in the same apartment block.

Unlike the other Tom & Jerry’s by Chuck Jones’s unit, this short has a lively jazzy score penned by a remarkably inspired Carl Brandt. In short, everything seems to come together for once in this cartoon, making this one of the best of the Chuck Jones Tom & Jerry’s.

Watch ‘Rock ‘n’ Rodent’ yourself and tell me what you think:

This is Tom & Jerry cartoon No. 156

To the previous Tom & Jerry cartoon: Guided Mouse-ille
To the next Tom & Jerry cartoon: Cannery Rodent

Director: Abe Levitow
Release date: March 10, 1967
Stars: Tom & Jerry
Rating:  ★

Guided Mouse-ille © MGMAfter ‘O-Solar-Meow‘ Tom and Jerry immediately return to the science fiction setting in ‘Guided Mouse-ille’.

The time is 2565 AD and again, Tom and Jerry fight each other with modern technology, including the robot cat from ‘O Solar Meow’. In the end, our heroes are inexplicably blown to the prehistory, where they continue their chase.

Written by story man John Dunn (as was O-Solar-Meow), ‘Guided Mouse-ille’ is a very bad and terribly unfunny cartoon. Luckily, Tom & Jerry’s next short would be much more fun…

Watch ‘Guided Mouse-ille’ yourself and tell me what you think:

This is Tom & Jerry cartoon No. 155

To the previous Tom & Jerry cartoon: O-Solar-Meow
To the next Tom & Jerry cartoon: Rock ‘n’ Rodent

Director: Abe Levitow
Release date: February 24, 1967
Stars: Tom & Jerry
Rating:  ★★

O-Solar-Meow © MGMIn a cartoon that looks forward to ‘2001 A Space Odyssey’ (which would be released the following year), Tom and Jerry inhabit a roulette-like space station.

Here they fight each other using modern technology, including a robot cat. In the end, Tom manages to shoot Jerry to the moon, but luckily for Jerry, it turns out to be made out of cheese.

This cartoon contains nice settings and some original ideas, but none of them are executed well, resulting in yet another mediocre Tom and Jerry cartoon produced by Chuck Jones. Tom & Jerry’s next cartoon, ‘Guided Mouse-ille‘, also has a science fiction setting. Interestingly, both these shorts were penned by story man John Dunn.

Watch ‘O-Solar-Meow’ yourself and tell me what you think:

This is Tom & Jerry cartoon No. 154

To the previous Tom & Jerry cartoon: Cat and Dupli-cat
To the next Tom & Jerry cartoon: Guided Mouse-ille

Directors: William Hanna & Joseph Barbera
Release Date: March 3, 1951
Stars: Tom & Jerry
Rating: ★★★★★

Jerry and the Goldfish © MGMTom’s listening to the radio where a french cook is telling about a fish recipe. Tom immediately tries to cook the goldfish in various ways, but Jerry, who’s the goldfish’s friend, rescues him again and again.

Unlike most Jerry-and-a-friend cartoons, ‘Jerry and the Goldfish’ is not cute, but fast and funny, with great gags coming in plenty, many of which involving deformations of Tom’s body. This makes ‘Jerry and the Goldfish’ easily one of the best Tom & Jerry cartoons using this theme. In 1966 Abe Levitow used the same story theme in the late Tom & Jerry cartoon ‘Fillet Meow‘, unfortunately with appalling results.

Watch an excerpt from ‘Jerry and the Goldfish’ yourself and tell me what you think:

This is Tom & Jerry cartoon No. 56
To the previous Tom & Jerry cartoon: Casanova Cat
To the next Tom & Jerry cartoon: Jerry’s Cousin

Director: Abe Levitow
Release Date: August 4, 1966
Stars: Tom & Jerry
Rating: ★

A-Tom-inable Snowman © MGM ‘The A-Tom-inable Snowman’ is as abominable as the snowman’s supposed to be: it’s painfully bad and unfunny.

The cartoon has nothing to do with yetis, however. It is set in the alps and involves a helpful St. Bernard. The only surprise is that the titles roll in after 1’22.

Watch ‘The A-Tom-inable Snowman’ yourself and tell me what you think:

This is Tom & Jerry cartoon No. 151
To the previous Tom & Jerry cartoon: Matinee Mouse
To the next Tom & Jerry cartoon: Catty Cornered

Director: Abe Levitow
Release Date: May 5, 1966
Stars: Tom & Jerry
Rating: ★★½

Puss 'n' Boats © MGMIn ‘Puss ‘n’ Boats’ Tom is a coastal guard trying to stop Jerry from entering a ship full of cheese. Surprisingly, this is a continuing story containing no black-out gags.

Unfortunately, the designs and animation are both weak, as is the music by first-timer Carl Brandt. The cartoon does contain some clever ideas, but they never get funny.

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

This is Tom & Jerry cartoon No. 148
To the previous Tom & Jerry cartoon: Love, Love My Mouse
To the next Tom & Jerry cartoon: Fillet Meow

Director: Abe Levitow
Release Date: June 30, 1966
Stars: Tom & Jerry
Rating: ★★

Fillet Meow © MGMIn ‘Fillet Meow’ Tom is after a goldfish, who looks a little like Chloe from ‘Pinocchio‘ (1940). Of course Jerry tries to protect the cute little fish.

‘Fillet Meow’ was the third Tom & Jerry cartoon directed by Abe Levitow and by now quality standards had dropped almost to the level of the Gene Deitch Tom & Jerry shorts. The result is rather awful, and nowhere near the quality of the similar ‘Jerry and the Goldfish‘ (1951).

Watch ‘Fillet Meow’ yourself and tell me what you think:

This is Tom & Jerry cartoon No. 149
To the previous Tom & Jerry cartoon: Love, Love My Mouse
To the next Tom & Jerry cartoon: Matinee Mouse

Director: Abe Levitow
Release Date: March 3, 1966
Stars: Tom & Jerry
Rating: ★

Jerry-Go-Round © MGM ‘Jerry-Go-Round’ is staged at a circus: Jerry helps a circus elephant, who in turn protects Jerry from Tom.

This rather dull and unfunny cartoon marks the debut of animator Abe Levitow as a Tom & Jerry director. It is not a success. Levitow was an experienced director: in 1959 he had directed several Warner Brothers cartoons, and at UPA he had directed Mr. Magoo television specials, and the studio’s second feature, Gay-Purree (1962). Yet, this experience is hard to detect in ‘Jerry Go-Round’: both the designs, the timing and the animation are inferior to those in the cartoons directed by Chuck Jones himself.

Watch ‘Jerry-Go-Round’ yourself and tell me what you think:

This is Tom & Jerry cartoon No. 146
To the previous Tom & Jerry cartoon: Jerry, Jerry Quite Contrary
To the next Tom & Jerry cartoon: Love, Love My Mouse

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