Tuesday, March 4, 2014

Toon Legends: Tom & Jerry in Blue Cat Blues (1957)

Fellow blogger Sam Wilson tipped me to this Tom & Jerry entry. I had noted that the inestimable Paul Frees had worked on "Jerry's Cousin", which we presented the other day, but that wasn't his only contribution to the long running series.

"Blue Cat Blues" was meant to be Bill Hanna & Joe Barbera's coda to the series, but as we all know, MGM wasn't about to let their biggest cartoon cash cow go quietly into the night, and thus would contract Gene Deitch to take over the series, as Hanna & Barbera started their own studio and took their artists and writers with them. Deitch didn't last long, and of course, Chuck Jones took over to wrap T & J's MGM run.

Back to "Blue Cat Blues". Frees narrates from Jerry's perspective. The fact that Tom & Jerry are pals here serves as an unwitting precursor to their 1975-77 TV series for H-B & ABC. Tom is down and out, his eyes bloodshot, after a wealthy rival sweeps a white furred female cat away from Tom. The balance of the story, then, is told in flashback, but, as we soon see, Jerry isn't immune from heartbreak, either.

Edit: 11/13/14: The original post had to be taken down because the poster chose to privatize it. In its place, we bring you the first half.

By my own admission, this was the first time I'd ever seen this short. I wasn't fond of Deitch's take on the franchise, and preferred Jones', which put some more life into the series. Jones, of course, would also produce the bumpers for the team's 1st CBS series, which launched in 1965.

The animation here is more of a precursor to H-B's television output, as the gags lose a lot of their energy.

Rating: B-.


magicdog said...

Pretty radical when you realize Tom (and eventually Jerry) are planning suicide!

I have seen this toon and while it's not up the classic T&J, the ending didn't bother me as much as critics have said over the years. I guess in one's heart, you never really thought they'd go through with it.

Maybe it's because killing oneself over some goldigger was silly.

hobbyfan said...

Exactly right on both counts. As I had noted, and had been told, Hanna & Barbera had intended this to be the end to the series, as they had done everything they'd wanted to do, but MGM had other ideas.

It makes you wonder, though, if this might've been part of the reason that H & B left MGM to start their own studio.......