Tom and Jerry (Van Beuren)

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Film poster

Tom and Jerry are fictional characters that starred in a series of early sound cartoons produced by the Van Beuren Studios, and distributed by RKO Pictures. The series lasted from 1931 to 1933.

American cartoon artist Joseph Barbera began his career as an animator and storyman on this series. In 1940, Barbera co-created with William Hanna another duo of cartoon characters for MGM using the same names: a cat and mouse named Tom and Jerry. When Official Films purchased the Van Beuren library in the early 1940s, the characters were renamed Dick and Larry to avoid confusion with MGM's Tom and Jerry. Today, animation historians refer to the original Tom and Jerry characters as Van Beuren's Tom and Jerry. Today, all of these cartoons are in the public domain.[citation needed]

Description[edit]

The characters were a Mutt and Jeff-like pair, 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. 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 through an 1821 book titled Life in London written by Pierce Egan (British sportswriter and author of Boxiana), itself based on George Cruikshank's, Isaac Robert Cruikshank's, and Egan's true story about their careers. Stylistically, the cartoons were similar to those made by Fleischer Studios, which like Van Beuren Studios was located in New York City; one 1932 short, Piano Tooners, even introduced a "flapper" character similar to Fleischer's Betty Boop, and Maltin (1980) says "it's probable that one of the women who did Betty Boop's voice . . . also worked on recording sessions for this studio."[1] According to Markstein's Toonopedia, Fleischer staff sometimes moonlighted at Van Beuren's, which was situated just across the road, and this accounts for the many visual similarities between the two. Tom and Jerry's adventures were generally absurd comedies featuring music as sound effects. 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.

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
Doughnuts Frank Sherman and George Rufle July 7, 1933
The Phantom Rocket Frank Sherman and George Rufle July 28, 1933

Home video availability[edit]

Thunderbean Animation released a complete set of the series on DVD in 2010. There is currently a Blu-ray in the works from the same company.

Also, Mill Creek released 12 shorts out of 26 as part of the Giant 600 Cartoon Collection, 150 Cartoon Classics & 200 Classic Cartoons DVD sets. The series appeared on Tom Sawyer, And Other Cartoon Treasures, including Tom & Jerry shorts.

Some shorts were eventually restored on some Cartoon Roots Blu-ray releases. It was also released on DVD as Tom & Jerry & Friends: The Tuba Tooter as part of the Digivew Productions’ Cartoon Craze series. The short (The Tuba Tooter) was included on one of the discs of 350 Classic Cartoons as well.

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Maltin, Leonard. Of Mice and Magic: a History of American Animated Cartoons. Von Hoffmann Press, Inc., 1980. p. 198.

External links[edit]