Saturday, 3 December 2011

Juke Box What?

That Tom and Jerry! Remember that funny cartoon about the..... well, actually, I don’t remember this one. Billboard magazine announced it in its edition of June 2, 1951:

CULVER CITY, Calif., May 26—Metro-Goldwyn Mayer cartoons are set to produce Juke Box Mouse with this film the next on the schedule. Dealing entirely with popular music, it follows a long series of cartoons featuring classical tunes. These include Academy Oscar winner Cat Concerto, Hollywood Bowl Cat, Saturday Evening Puss and Johann Mouse.

There are several problems with the story. ‘Saturday Evening Puss’ featured jazz, not classical music. ‘Tom and Jerry at the Hollywood Bowl’ is the proper name of one cartoon. And, finally, the most puzzling question:

What cartoon is ‘Juke Box Mouse’?

It’s nowhere to be found in the list of MGM cartoon productions Thad Komorowski has on his blog (the product of several fine and accurate researchers). And I can’t think of a cartoon which came out after all the ones listed above that involves a juke box (when I write stuff like that, someone quickly comments to jog my failing memory).

We mentioned in this post that MGM changed the name of a number of its cartoons. The book Contemporary Theatre, Film, and Television, Gale Research Co. (2007) reveals a few others from the Hanna-Barbera unit, though I don’t know the source of its information.

‘Cat Nipped,’ ‘Kitty Foiled’ released as ‘Mouse Trouble’ (1944).
‘Mouse to Dinner’ released as ‘The Mouse Comes to Dinner’ (1945).
‘Love Boids’ released as ‘Flirty Birdy’ (1945).
‘Manhattan Serenade’ released as ‘Mouse in Manhattan’ (1945).
‘Hold That Lion’ released as ‘Jerry and the Lion’ (1950).
‘Party Cat’ released as ‘Saturday Evening Puss’ (1950).
‘City Cousin, ‘Muscles Mouse’ finally released as ‘Jerry’s Cousin’ (1950).
‘F’r Safety Sake’ released as ‘Safety Second’ (1950).
‘Tyke Takes a Nap’ released as ‘Hic-Cup Pup’ (1954).
‘One Quack Mind’ released as ‘Happy Go Ducky’ (1958).

I can just hear Fred Quimby tell Bill and Joe that the word “boids” doesn’t have the dignity associated with MGM.

Something else the story tells you is how long it took for MGM to release some of its cartoons. ‘Johann Mouse’ didn’t appear on screens until March 1953, almost two years after this story came out. That backlog of cartoons is the reason MGM gave for closing its studio (something it called “temporarily” at the time) in 1957. That forced Hanna and Barbera to go hunting for new work, something that changed television animation forever.

1 comment:

  1. Got me on this one -- The only thing that even comes close is 1956's "Downbeat Bear", but it's hard to believe Hanna-Barbera would put a story on the shelf that long (neve rmind the fact that nodoby'd get putting a bear in an Ed Norton hat in 1951, though obviously the plot could have been tinkered with in the ensuing five years).