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Plot and format 

 

The plots of each short usually center on Tom's frustrated attempts to catch Jerry, and the mayhem and destruction that ensues. Since Tom rarely attempts to eat Jerry and because the pair actually seem to get along in some cartoon shorts (at least in the first minute or so), it is unclear why Tom chases Jerry so much. But some reasons given may include normal feline/mouse enmity, duty according to his owner, revenge, or competition with another cat, among other reasons. Tom rarely succeeds in catching Jerry, mainly because of Jerry's craftiness and cunning abilities, but sometimes because of Tom's own stupidity. Tom usually beats Jerry when Jerry becomes the instigator or when he crosses some sort of line. The shorts are famous for some of the most violent gags ever devised in theatrical animation: Jerry slicing Tom in half, shutting his head in a window or a door, Tom using everything from axes, pistols, explosives, traps and poison to try to murder Jerry, Jerry stuffing Tom's tail in a waffle iron, kicking him into a refrigerator, plugging his tail into an electric socket, pounding him with a mace, club or mallet, causing a tree to drive him into the ground and so on. Despite the frequent violence, there is no blood or gore in any scenes. A recurring gag involves Jerry hitting Tom when he's preoccupied, with Tom initially oblivious to the pain--and only feeling the effects moments later, and vice versa; and another involves Jerry stopping Tom in midchase (as if calling for a time-out), before he does something, usually putting the hurt on Tom. The cartoon is also noteworthy for its reliance on stereotypes, such as the blackening of characters following explosions and the use of heavy and enlarged shadows (e.g., "Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Mouse"). Resemblance to everyday objects and occurrences is arguably the main appeal of visual humor in the series. The characters themselves regularly transform into ridiculous but strongly associative shapes, most of the time involuntarily, in masked but gruesome ways (see also Cartoon physics). 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. Before 1954, all Tom and Jerry cartoons were produced in the standard Academy ratio and format; from late 1954 to 1955, some of the output was dually produced in both Academy format and the widescreen CinemaScope process. From 1956 until the close of the Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer animation studio a year later, all Tom and Jerry cartoons were produced in CinemaScope, some even had their soundtracks recorded in stereo. The 1960s Gene Deitch and Chuck Jones shorts were all produced in Academy format, but with compositions that made them compatible to be matted to Academy widescreen format as well. All of the Hanna and Barbera cartoons were produced in three-strip Technicolor, the 1960s entries were done in Metrocolor.

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Tom and Jerry is an Academy Award-winning animated cartoon series of Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer theatrical shorts created, written and directed by animators William Hanna and Joseph Barbera (later of Hanna-Barbera fame). One hundred and fourteen Tom and Jerry cartoons were produced by the Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer cartoon studio in Hollywood from 1940 until 1957, when the animation unit was closed down. These shorts are notable for having won seven Academy Awards for Best Short Subject (Cartoons), tying it with Walt Disney's Silly Symphonies as the most-awarded theatrical animated series.

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Characters

 

Tom is a bluish-grey housecat, depending on the short (Tom's fur color is close to that of the Russian Blue breed of cats), who lives a pampered life, while Jerry is a small brown mouse who always lives in proximity to him. Tom is very quick-tempered and thin-skinned, while Jerry is independent and opportunistic. Despite being very energetic and determined, Tom is no match for Jerry's brains and wits. By the iris-out of each cartoon, Jerry usually emerges triumphant, while Tom is shown as the loser. However, other results may be reached; on rare occasions, Tom triumphs. Sometimes, usually ironically, they both lose or they both end up being friends. Both characters display sadistic tendencies, in that they are equally likely to take pleasure in tormenting each other. However, depending on the cartoon, whenever one character appears to be in mortal danger (in a dangerous situation or by an enemy), the other will develop a conscience and save him. Sometimes they bond over a mutual sentiment towards an unpleasant experience. Jerry Jerry Although many supporting and minor characters speak, Tom and Jerry rarely do so. Tom, most famously, sings while wooing female cats; for example, Tom sings Louis Jordan's "Is You Is Or Is You Ain't My Baby" in the 1946 short Solid Serenade. Co-director William Hanna provided most of the squeaks, gasps, and other vocal effects for the pair, including the most famous sound effect 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). The only other reasonably common vocalisation 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!". One short, 1956's Blue Cat Blues, is narrated by Jerry in voiceover. Also, the episode The Lonesome Mouse has significant bits of talk, with Jerry muttering, "Why, that dirty, double-crossin, good-for-nothin, two timin..." in the end.

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Recurring characters

 

In his attempts to catch Jerry, Tom often has to deal with the intrusions of Butch, a scruffy black alley cat who also wants to catch and eat Jerry; Spike (sometimes billed as "Killer" or "Butch"), an angry, vicious guard bulldog who tries to attack the cat but is usually friendly towards Jerry, being his bodyguard and protector in a couple of shorts; and Toodles Galore, Tom's girlfriend.From the beginning (the first epsode), Tom also has to deal with Mammy Two Shoes, a stereotyped African-American domestic housemaid who also appears to be the owner of the house in which Tom resides because of her actions such as inviting people over for dinner (voiced by Lillian Randolph), whose face is never seen, and who usually wallops the cat with a broom when he misbehaves. When Mammy was not present, sometimes there would be with other humans, but most never had their faces shown either. The cook's face was not shown until the very end, where he was chasing Tom firing his guns, but his head was turned away from the viewer's point, but it's revealed that he was wearing a chef's hat. In an episode where Tom was an assistant, the captain's face was never shown. All other times that other humans appeared their faces were usually in a shadow. In one episode, an animal catcher's face was shown in a shadow in the end, who had captured Spike in the back of his truck. The viewer sees it, but is not able to clearly view the features of the face. Mammy would appear in many cartoons until 1952, later cartoons would instead show Tom and Jerry living with a 1950s Yuppie-style couple: a tall, lanky man with glasses, and a doting housewife with black hair. Soon after, Tom's only owner seemed to be a thin, strict woman, with a personality similar to Mammy-Two-Shoes but instead of her dislike of mice she adores them, and punishes Tom for chasing Jerry, instead of failing to capture him. There is also Jane, the babysitter who does nothing but use the telephone once the couple leaves the house, leaving Tom and Jerry to look after a hyperactive baby who crawls out of his crib into dangerous places, but they are scolded for "messing with the baby."In the late 1940s, Jerry adopted a little gray mouse foundling named Nibbles (also later known as Tuffy), coming from a certain "Mrs. Bide-a-Wee Mouse Home." In the years of Nibbles' debut, he is depicted as a constantly hungry little mouse (as told by Mrs. Bide-a-Wee Mouse Home herself, and his open-mouth-pointing, lip-licking, lip-smacking, tummy-rubbing gesture). In later years Nibbles got rid of his hungry personality and was given a voice, but usually in a foreign language in keeping with the theme and setting of the short (if it's English, it's usually in a British accent). During the 1950s, Spike is shown to have a son of his own named Tyke; an addition that led to both a slight softening of Spike's character (that of a proud father and his son) and a short-lived spin-off theatrical series. Spike spoke occasionally, using a voice and expressions modeled after comedian Jimmy Durante. Another recurring character in the series was Quacker the duckling, who was later adapted into the Hanna-Barbera character Yakky Doodle.

 
 
 
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