Friday 18 May 2018

Spear-Riding Jerry

Time to dig out the Van Beuren checklist for Jungle Jam, a 1931 Tom and Jerry cartoon. Arbitrary dancing and music? Check. Inconsistent animation? Check. Stereotypes? Check. Meandering pseudo-story? Check. General feeling of “What did I just watch?” Double check.

A bad cartoon? Yes, but no. I can’t dislike the early Van Beuren cartoons. They’re too odd to dislike. And you have to admire the weirdness of some of the gag attempts. Here’s one from Jungle Jam, where African natives are throwing spears at our heroes. Jerry rides one of the spears, which inexplicably grows the head of a native, and bites him. Having done its job, it resumes being a spear and zooms away.

There’s at the very least one enjoyable piece of music in every Van Beuren cartoon when Gene Rodemich was running the studio. This cartoon has a nice opening piece with a piano, xylophone and saxophone as Tom and Jerry row their boat. Devon Baxter tells me it is “Stray Sunbeams” by Charles Huerter, copyright in 1927.


  1. I know 1930's popular music and jazz pretty well, but I can't place that opening tune, either. My guess is that it was written specifically for the cartoon.

    1. Yowp, ask Richard Finegan. He identified the opening tune for me since I heard it used in THE JAZZ SINGER. (I forgot the name of the tune, but he definitely ID'ed it for me.)