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History and evolution

Hanna-Barbera era (1940 – 1958)

 

William Hanna and Joseph Barbera were both part of the Rudolf Ising unit at MGM's animation studio in the late 1930s. Barbera, a storyman and character designer, was paired with Hanna, an experienced director, to start directing films for the Ising unit; the first of which was a cat-and-mouse cartoon called Puss Gets the Boot. Completed in late 1939, and released to theatres on February 10, 1940, Puss Gets The Boot centers on Jasper, a grey tabby cat trying to catch an unnamed rodent, but after accidentally breaking a houseplant and its stand, the African-American housemaid Mammy has threatened to throw Jasper out ("O-W-T, out!") if he breaks one more thing in the house. Naturally, the mouse uses this to his advantage, and begins tossing wine glasses, ceramic plates, teapots, and any and everything fragile, so that Jasper will be thrown outside. This will become the basic plot of most of the Tom and Jerry cartoons later. Puss Gets The Boot was previewed and released without fanfare, and Hanna and Barbera went on to direct other (non-cat-and-mouse related) shorts. "After all," remarked many of the MGM staffers, "haven't there been enough cat-and-mouse cartoons already?" The pessimistic attitude towards the cat and mouse duo changed when the cartoon became a favorite with theatre owners and with the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, which nominated the film for the Academy Award for Best Short Subject: Cartoons of 1941. It lost to another MGM cartoon, Rudolph Ising's The Milky Way. However, producer Fred Quimby, who ran the MGM animation studio, quickly pulled Hanna and Barbera off the other one-shot cartoons they were working on, and commissioned a series featuring the cat and mouse. Hanna and Barbera held an intra-studio contest to give the pair a new name; animator John Carr won with his suggestion of "Tom and Jerry". The Tom and Jerry series went into production with The Midnight Snack in 1941, and Hanna and Barbera rarely directed anything but the cat-and-mouse cartoons for the rest of their tenure at MGM

 

Tom and Jerry remained popular throughout their original theatrical run, even when the budgets began to tighten somewhat in the 1950s and the pace of the shorts slowed slightly. However, after television became popular in the 1950s, box office revenues decreased for theatrical films, and short subjects. At first, MGM combated this by going to all-CinemaScope production on the series. After MGM realized that their re-releases of the older shorts brought in just as much revenue as the new films, the studio executives decided, much to the surprise of the staff, to close the animation studio. The MGM animation department was shut down in 1957, and the final of the 114 Hanna and Barbera Tom and Jerry shorts, Tot Watchers, was released on August 1, 1958. Hanna and Barbera established their own television animation studio, Hanna-Barbera Productions, in 1957, which went on to produce such popular shows as The Flintstones, Yogi Bear, The Jetsons, and Scooby-Doo.

Gene Deitch era (1960 – 1962)

 

In 1960, MGM decided to produce new Tom and Jerry shorts, and had producer William L. Snyder arrange with Czech-based animation director Gene Deitch and his studio, Rembrandt Films, to make the films overseas in Prague, Czechoslovakia. The Deitch/Snyder team turned out 13 shorts, many of which have a surrealistic quality. Since the Deitch/Snyder team had seen only a handful of the original Tom and Jerry shorts, the resulting films were considered unusual, and in many ways- bizarre. The characters' gestures were often performed at high speed, frequently causing heavy motion blur. As a result, the animation of the characters looked choppy and sickly. The soundtracks featured sparse music, spacey sound effects, dialogue that was mumbled rather than spoken, and heavy use of reverb. These shorts are the only Tom and Jerry cartoons not to carry the "Made In Hollywood, U.S.A." phrase at the end. Due to Deitch's studio being behind the Iron Curtain, the production studio's location is omitted entirely.

 
 
 

Chuck Jones era (1963 – 1967)

 

After the last of the Deitch cartoons were released, MGM turned to American director Chuck Jones, famous for his work on Looney Tunes and Merrie Melodies shorts starring Bugs Bunny, Daffy Duck, and the Road Runner and Coyote, among others. Jones had just ended his thirty-plus year tenure at Warner Bros. Cartoons and started his own animation studio, Sib Tower 12 Productions, 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), but, despite being animated by essentially the same people who worked with Jones at Warner Brothers, with varying degrees of critical success. Fans that typically rooted for Tom criticized Jones' cartoons for making Tom never become a threat to Jerry.Jones had trouble adapting his style to Tom and Jerry's brand of humor, and a number of the cartoons favored poses, personality, and style over storyline. The characters underwent a slight change of appearance: Tom was given thicker, Boris Karloff-like eyebrows, a less complex look, and furrier cheeks, while Jerry was given larger eyes and ears, and a sweeter, Porky Pig-like expression. 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. MGM ceased production of animated shorts in 1967, by which time Sib Tower 12 had become MGM Animation/Visual Arts, and Jones had already begun to move on to television specials and the feature film The Phantom Tollbooth.

 
 
 

Tom and Jerry hit television

 

Beginning in 1965, the Hanna and Barbera Tom and Jerry films began to appear on television in heavily edited form: the Jones team was required to take the shorts that featured Mammy, rotoscope her out, and replace her with a thin white woman, with Lillian Randolph's original voice tracks replaced by June Foray performing in an Irish accent. However, in local telecasts of the cartoons, and in the ones shown on Boomerang, Mammy could once again be seen, and more recently, with a new, less stereotypical black voice supplied. Much of the extreme violence in the cartoons were also edited out. Starting out 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.

Tom & Jerry's new wners

 

In 1986, MGM was purchased by 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 (where the rights stand today via Warner Bros.), and have in subsequent years appeared on Turner-run stations, such as TBS, TNT, Cartoon Network, Boomerang, and Turner Classic Movies.

Tom and Jerry outside the United States

 

 When shown on terrestrial television in the United Kingdom (from 1967 to 2000, usually on the BBC) Tom and Jerry cartoons were not cut for violence and Mammy was retained. As well as having regular slots, Tom and Jerry served the BBC in another way. When faced with disruption to the schedules (such as those occurring when live broadcasts overrun), the BBC would invariably turn to Tom and Jerry to fill any gaps, confident that it would retain much of an audience that might otherwise channel hop. This proved particularly helpful in 1993, when Noel's House Party had to be cancelled due to an IRA bomb scare at BBC Television Centre - Tom and Jerry was shown instead, bridging the gap until the next programme. Recently, a mother has complained of the smoking scenes shown in the cartoons since Tom often attempts to impress love interests with the habit. It has been said that these scenes will be edited out.[citation needed] Due to its lack of dialog, Tom and Jerry was easily translated into various foreign languages. Tom and Jerry began broadcast in Japan in 1964. A 2005 nationwide survey taken in Japan by TV Asahi, sampling age groups from teenagers to adults in their sixties, ranked Tom and Jerry #85 in a list of the top 100 anime of all time; while their web poll taken after the airing of the list ranked it at #58 - the only non-Japanese animation on the list, and beating anime classics like Tsubasa Chronicle, A Little Princess Sara, and the ultra-classics Macross, Ghost in the Shell, and Rurouni Kenshin (it should be noted that in Japan, the word "anime" refers to all animation regardless of origin, not just Japanese animation). [1] Tom and Jerry is also well-known in India, China, Indonesia, Iran, Thailand, Middle East and South Korea. Tom and Jerry have long been popular in Germany. However, the cartoons are overdubbed with rhyming German-language verse that describes what is happening onscreen and provides additional funny content. The different episodes are usually embedded in the episode Jerry's Diary (1949), in which Tom reads about past adventures. In Philippines, India, Pakistan, Mexico, Colombia, Brazil, Venezuela, and other Latin American countries Cartoon Network still airs Tom and Jerry cartoons everyday. In Russia, local channels also air the show in its daytime programming slot. Tom and Jerry was one of the few cartoons of western origin broadcast in Czechoslovakia (1988) before the fall of Communism in 1989.