Wednesday, 16 January 2019

Wanted: Tom and Jerry By Gene Deitch

There’s an enjoyable little twist in the opening titles of Tall in the Trap, a 1962 Tom and Jerry Western directed by Gene Deitch. There’s a cold open with some character dialogue (reused later in the cartoon) and then instead of stock footage of the MGM lion roaring, there’s a shot of a Wanted poster with a cartoon facsimile of the lion.

A quick pan shows another title card in the form of a poster.

Now comes a parody of the card Paladin carried in the TV show Have Gun Will Travel. The card is flipped around several times to reveal who worked on the cartoon. You’ll notice Deitch darkens the background so the card is easier to read. The chess-piece knight is in a mouse trap as a little pun.

Deitch chose to use a solo guitar played by Jiri Jirmal for much of the score, written by Stephen Konichek.

As you can see, ex-Warner Bros. writer Tedd Pierce freelanced on this, and you may recognise some of the gags as variations of what appeared in Bugs Bunny cartoons.


  1. That's actually more of a "teaser" than a cold open, since it's a clip of a moment from later in the cartoon. Some of the theatrical Terrytoons from this period used the same device. Its kind of bizarre to see it utilized in shorts. Have to wonder if perhaps producers were aping their usage from prime-time animated series The Flintstones, Calvin and the Colonel, and Top Cat.

  2. Deitch did another enjoyable title twist in Sorry Safari (The M.G.M lion is replaced with an animation clip of the climatic moment - it also basically counts as a "teaser").

  3. I've read that Tedd Pierce & Bill Danch originally wrote this as a Speedy Gonzales/Sylvester short, but Robert McKimson didn't like it and passed on it. Pierce then sold the story to Deitch who had them modify it as a vehicle for Deitch's version of Tom & Jerry.

  4. McKimson passed on a script?? It must've REALLY sucked.

  5. I'll admit, I do enjoy these Gene Deitch Tom & Jerry films. They definitely have their moments...