Tuesday, 19 February 2013

Volcanic Tom

There are some neat bits of acting by Jerry in the early Tom and Jerry cartoon “The Bowling Alley-Cat” (1942) is one of them where the mouse is almost balletic in the opening few minutes. And Joe Barbera pulls off a nice gag with Tom where Jerry twirls and throws the cat by the tail from the slippery bowling lane into an ash tray which forms a volcano over him.

Tom pops up from the top of the “volcano” then spits up a pipe.

Tom gives a head shake take that takes up almost a foot of film. 14 drawings; a little over half a second.

And then a one-eyed look.

Unfortunately, no animators are credited on this cartoon, nor is the fine background artist.

Tom and Jerry were at their peak in the 1940s. Once the designs started flattening out and becoming cheaper looking, the characters lost a lot of their personality. Adding little ducks, little mice, little birds and a suburban couple didn’t really help.


  1. This is actually my favorite of the early T&Js, because it gets away from the normal cat/mouse/house setting. I only wish Joe Barbera had started varying up the story outcomes a few years earlier -- you can count on the fingers of one hand how many times Jerry doesn't emerge triumphant in the first 15 years of the series. By the time Joe started switching the plot twists, around 1953 or so, to the point we didn't know how each cartoon was going to end, the characters were flatter, the looks/takes were getting more standardized, and the ueber-cute secondary characters were beginning to show up in about every other short.

  2. It's tough to pick a favourite from then. I really like "Mouse in Manhattan" even though it's far from the type of cartoon I enjoy. But it's so unassuming, and Bradley's score is terrific.