The Cat Concerto
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|The Cat Concerto|
|Tom and Jerry series|
|Directed by||William Hanna
|Produced by||Fred Quimby|
|Story by||William Hanna (unc.)
Joseph Barbera (unc.)
|Music by||Scott Bradley
|Animation by||Kenneth Muse
Richard Bickenbach (uncredited)
|Release date(s)||April 26, 1947|
|Preceded by||Part Time Pal|
|Followed by||Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Mouse|
The Cat Concerto is a 1947 American one-reel animated cartoon and is the 29th Tom and Jerry short, released to theatres on April 26, 1947. It was produced by Fred Quimby and directed by William Hanna and Joseph Barbera, with musical supervision by Scott Bradley, and animation by Kenneth Muse, Ed Barge and Irven Spence and additional animation by Richard Bickenbach (uncredited).
Following its release, it was met with critical acclaim, and is considered one of the best Tom and Jerry cartoons ever. It won the 1946 Academy Award for Best Short Subject: Cartoons. In 1994 it was voted #42 of the 50 Greatest Cartoons of all time by members of the animation field. The short won the duo their fourth consecutive Academy Award for Best Animated Short Film. The short also appears in Empire Magazine's The 500 Greatest Movies of All Time list as the number 434.
A stage is set in an auditorium. In a formal concert, Tom, a piano virtuoso, is giving a piano recital of "Hungarian Rhapsody No. 2" by Franz Liszt. Jerry, who is sleeping inside the piano, is rudely awakened by the hammers, then sits on top of the piano to mock the cat by "conducting" him. Tom flicks Jerry off the piano. Tom continues playing without any interruptions.
Jerry arises from under one of the keys. Tom plays tremolo on this key, knocking Jerry on the head, and then Jerry runs back and forth underneath. Tom smashes the mouse under the keys, plays the main theme of the rhapsody, and when Tom lifts his two fingers from playing a trill, the piano continues playing. He looks over the edge of the piano and spots Jerry playing the felts from inside. To quiet him, he whacks Jerry with a tuning tool. Jerry slams the piano lid onto Tom's fingers. Tom still plays, and then Jerry pops out on the far right of the piano to attempt to cut Tom's finger with a pair of scissors as he plays a note from the very highest minor third of the piano. After the sixth miss, Jerry pants from this effort, and then substitutes a mousetrap for the white keys just below it. Tom plays the keys on either side for a few seconds but eventually, Tom's finger gets caught in the trap.
Jerry prances up and down on the piano, upon which Tom climbs and proceeds to play with his feet. As Tom gets back down to play with his fingers, Jerry dances around on the felts, momentarily changing the tune from the rhapsody to "On the Atchison, Topeka and the Santa Fe". Tom then plays a chord where the mouse is bounced repeatedly, receiving rude gestures in return, and eventually catches the mouse and stows him into the piano stool. Jerry then crawls out of an opening and manipulates the seat's controls, cranking it up, and sending it crashing down, causing Tom to get his head covered in his clothes and then land on the keys.
Tom stuffs Jerry into the felts and then goes crazy on the piano, going back to the rhapsody. The felts take on a life of their own, bashing Jerry about, spanking him, and squashing him to and throw. Eventually, Jerry gets squashed and comes out, very angry about this, and then breaks off some felts as his sticks and plays the finale of the rhapsody in one last retaliation. Jerry constantly increases the speed of his playing, plays two false endings, and generally taunts him, such that Tom is left with raggedy clothes and collapses at the end of the tune. The audience then applauds for the performance, and Jerry takes the praise for himself by bowing to the audience as a spotlight shines on him.
Film critic the Chiel of Australian newspaper The Age declared The Cat Concerto to be the best film of 1947, above Odd Man Out and Brief Encounter, stating that "[i]n conception and animation I think that short reaches the highest level of screen fantasy and humor."
The same year MGM produced The Cat Concerto, Warner Bros. released a very similar Bugs Bunny cartoon called Rhapsody Rabbit, directed by Friz Freleng, with Bugs against an unnamed mouse. Both shorts used near identical gags, the same piece by Franz Liszt, and had similar endings. Both MGM and Warner Bros. accused each other of plagiarism, after both films were submitted for the 1947 Academy Awards ceremony. Technicolor was accused of sending a print of either cartoon to the competing studio, who then allegedly plagiarized their rival's work. This remains uncertain even today, though Rhapsody Rabbit has an earlier MPAA copyright number and release date while The Cat Concerto had a more advanced production number at #165 while all the other shorts released near the same period had a lower production number in the 150's range. By pure coincidence, as of 1997 both shorts are now under ownership of Turner Entertainment and Warner Bros., following a series of mergers and acquisitions. The controversy was made into an episode of the Cartoon Network anthology series ToonHeads.
- Tom and Jerry's Greatest Chases, Vol. 1
- Tom and Jerry Spotlight Collection Vol. 1, Disc One
- Warner Bros. Home Entertainment Academy Awards Animation Collection: 15 Winners
- Warner Bros. Home Entertainment Academy Awards Animation Collection Disc One
- Tom and Jerry: Deluxe Anniversary Collection Disc One
- Tom and Jerry Golden Collection Volume One, Disc Two
- Tom and Jerry: Musical Mayhem
- Tom and Jerry Golden Collection Volume One, Disc Two
- Amazon Prime Video (UK)
- The Chiel (10 January 1948). "GRANDMOTHER Would be VERY ANGRY - The Year's Best". The Age. David Syme & Co. Retrieved 13 January 2017.
- Pianist Envy, Thad Komorowski, February 26, 2013
- The Great Cartoon Controversy, tv.com
- The Cat Concerto, a section of Nicola Watts' "Cartoons and Music" 1997 Multimedia Analysis and Design project at the Humanities Advanced Technology and Information Institute (HATII) at the University of Glasgow.
- Peter Gimpel, son of Jakob Gimpel explaining his view of the controversy
- The Cat Concerto at The Big Cartoon DataBase
- The Cat Concerto at the Internet Movie Database