Tom and Jerry (Van Beuren)

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Film poster

Tom and Jerry were fictional characters that starred in a series of early sound cartoons produced by the Van Beuren Studios, and distributed by RKO Pictures, both of which (along with Pathé) got contracted to the RCA mono variable-area sound system (RCA Victor High-Fidelity Sound System) for sound conversion. The series lasted from 1931 to 1933. When Official Films purchased the Van Beuren library in the 1950s, the characters were renamed Dick and Larry to avoid confusion with Tom and Jerry, the famous MGM cartoon series of the 1940s and 1950s. Today, animation historians refer to the characters as Van Beuren's Tom and Jerry. Today, all of these cartoons are in the public domain.[citation needed]

Pre-MGM: Tom and Jerry Joe Barbera involvement in this cartoon[edit]

Weirdly enough, before joining MGM cartoons, Joseph Barbera (after he left Paramount-distributed Fleischer Studios, a precursor to Famous Studios) began his career as an animator and storyman on this series. While still a slapstick old Hollywood cartoon in nature, this series was about a Mutt and Jeff-like pair of bungling young clown friends in strange situations. In 1940, Barbera co-created with William Hanna another duo of cartoon characters using the same names: a cat and mouse named Tom and Jerry.

Description[edit]

The characters were a Mutt and Jeff-like pair created by George Stallings and George Rufle, one short (Jerry) and one tall (Tom). Each cartoon featured a different adventure and the plot varied from film to film. Sometimes they were lawyers, hunters, plumbers, hobos, etc. They also look very Raggedy Andy-esque in terms of their appearance. The duo were likely named after the stage play and/or the mixed drink of the same name, both of which predated the duo by a century. Stylistically, the cartoons were similar to those made by Fleischer Studios (but not quite, note the lack of a Pac-Man-shaped eye in this series), which like Van Beuren Studios was located in New York City. According to Markstein's Toonopedia, Fleischer staff sometimes moonlighted at Van Beuren's, which was situated just across the road (accounting for the many visual similarities between the two). Tom and Jerry's adventures were generally absurdist comedies, featuring bizarre imagery, racist themes, and more than a few (minor) sexual references. One 1932 short (Piano Tooners) introduced a "flapper" character clearly[weasel words] derived from Fleischer's Betty Boop,[citation needed] further demonstrating the stylistic relationship between the two studios. Tom and Jerry, however, did not obtain popularity of the type Mickey Mouse, Betty Boop, and Bosko had, and the series was cancelled in 1933.

Voice actors[edit]

The only known voice actor in this series is Margie Hines. She is the original voice of Betty Boop and the 2nd voice of Olive Oyl in Popeye the Sailor Man. The latter cartoon, in its Famous Studios incarnation, would later have the same spinning star used for Little Audrey (from Noveltoons (later replaced by Harvey Comics)) and Little Lulu (which has, via John Stanley, more in common with MGM: Tom and Jerry than this, along with a theme song sung by none other than Helen Carroll and the Satisfiers, as well as a Cecil Roy-ish voice).

Music[edit]

The incidental music was composed by Gene Rodemich. Also featured in this cartoon are multiple jazz standards and traditional melodies, such as There'll Be a Hot Time in the Old Town Tonight, which is best known to the general public (fans of Disney cartoons, Disney Animated Features Canon, and Warner Bros. cartoons, as well as Max Fleischer's Popeye) as the first theme song of the Looney Tunes franchise (Pre-MGM Harman-Ising installments only).

Filmography[edit]

Title Directors First release
Wot a Night John Foster and George Stallings August 1, 1931
Polar Pals John Foster and George Rufle September 5, 1931
Trouble John Foster and George Stallings October 10, 1931
Jungle Jam John Foster and George Rufle November 14, 1931
A Swiss Trick John Foster and George Stallings December 19, 1931
Rocketeers John Foster and George Rufle January 30, 1932
Rabid Hunters John Foster and George Stallings February 27, 1932
In the Bag John Foster and George Rufle March 26, 1932
Joint Wipers John Foster and George Stallings April 23, 1932
Pots and Pans John Foster and George Rufle May 14, 1932
The Tuba Tooter John Foster and George Stallings June 4, 1932
Plane Dumb John Foster and George Rufle June 4, 1932
Redskin Blues John Foster and George Stallings July 23, 1932
Jolly Fish John Foster and George Stallings August 19, 1932
Barnyard Bunk John Foster and George Rufle September 16, 1932
A Spanish Twist John Foster and George Stallings October 7, 1932
Piano Tooners John Foster and George Rufle November 11, 1932
Pencil Mania John Foster and George Stallings December 9, 1932
Tight Rope Tricks John Foster and George Rufle January 6, 1933
Magic Mummy John Foster and George Stallings February 3, 1933
Happy Hoboes George Stallings and George Rufle March 31, 1933
Puzzled Pals George Stallings and Frank Sherman March 31, 1933
Hook and Ladder Hokum
(also A Fireman's Life and "Fire! Fire!" through Astra TV and Official Films, respectively)
George Stallings and Frank Tashlin (the latter credited as 'Tish Tash') April 28, 1933
In the Park Frank Sherman and George Rufle May 26, 1933
Dough Nuts Frank Sherman and George Rufle July 7, 1933
The Phantom Rocket Frank Sherman and George Rufle July 28, 1933

See also[edit]

External links[edit]