Monday, 22 May 2017

Tom Thumb in Trouble

Chuck Jones wanted to make Disney-like cartoons with little or helpless characters, cartoons that made you want to go “Awww.” His boss Leon Schlesinger wanted to make funny cartoons, and apparently told Jones to make them. Is it any wonder that Jones spent years castigating Schlesinger as a know-nothing boob?

Tom Thumb in Trouble (1940) is about as Disney as Jones could get within the confines of Schlesinger’s budget. There’s a chirpy Disney-like song, there’s pathos, there’s a teeny character overcoming the odds and there’s a happy ending. And because Jones in an Artist, there are some interesting camera angles and layouts.

There’s a scene where Tom Thumb is splashing around in a soapy water-filled dish that he can’t escape. Whether Jones had Ace Gamer or another effects animator working on it, I don’t know, but there’s an awful lot going in each frame with water drops. Some examples:

Tom is splashing around to “Agitation” by Mendelssohn.

Tom’s voice is supplied by Marjorie Tarlton, says the internet, but I can’t find a thing about her in any trade publication, the Los Angeles Times or even the U.S. Census.


  1. Tom's facial designs here seem to play off the ones Chuck used for the children in "Mighty Hunters".

    The irony here -- as Mike Barrier noted in the section of his book on Harman-Ising's second go-round with MGM -- was that by 1940, even Disney had stopped doing cute-but-dramatic short subject cartoons, leaving that to his full-length features and compilation movies. Jones was competing for a market Walt had abandoned, at the same time Disney's directors were starting to be influenced story-wise by Avery's work at Schlesinger's studio.

  2. I have that on a VHS somewhere. Taken from the very first year of " Cartoon Network ". Very Disney-ish.