Saturday 24 December 2022

The Christmas Gift of Guilt

No, sir, you won’t catch me falling for that Christmas cartoon sentiment. Not me.

I say this every year. And then I watch MGM’s Oscar-nominee The Night Before Christmas. It’s roped me in again.

There are plenty of emotions pantomimed by Tom and Jerry. The settings are elaborately rendered. Scott Bradley score follows the mood of the action. And Joe Barbera came up with a well-structured story with humour and whimsy.

In one sequence, Jerry escapes from Tom by jumping through a mail slot outside into a snow storm. Now, Tom can contentedly relax. But then he becomes worried about the mouse. Hanna cuts to some exterior shots.

The climax of the cartoon follows where the trepidious Tom rescues the frozen Jerry, restores him to health, and the two exchange holiday good wishes.

What’s interesting is both the Showmen’s Trade Review and Motion Picture Herald refer to a gift-exchange scene at the start of the cartoon. Perhaps it was part of the original plot synoposis sent to the trades because the short doesn’t have anything of the sort. The Showmen’s review is to the right. Two trade papers say the release date was to be December 6, 1941 but The Hollywood Reporter blurbed on the 10th the cartoon would open at Grauman’s Chinese and Loew’s State the next day “and elsewhere as master prints have been Clippered to all unoccupied countries.” Trade ads were promoting the cartoon as early as November 13th.

Mark Kausler points out the animators are Jack Zander, George Gordon, Pete Burness, Irv Spence, Cecil Surry and Bill Littlejohn. Keith Scott mentions the opening narration is by Frank Graham.


  1. Tom in this sequence is animated by Irv Spence, Yowp. Holiday Joy to you and all the readers.

    1. Thanks, Mark. Tom's expression in the second-last frame found its way into other scenes Spence did.
      And thanks again for all your help with comments over the years.

  2. HansChristian Brando24 December 2022 at 12:21

    Chuck Jones borrowed this scene for "Snowbody Loves Me" 23 years later; it's not quite as effective.