Tom and Jerry Spotlight Collection: Vol. 2 (DVD)
The second Spotlight Collection
features both the first "Tom and Jerry" short and some of the last films in the series. In 1940, the cartoon unit of MGM was under pressure to produce more, so story man Bill Hanna and animator Joe Barbera were allowed to direct a cartoon. "Puss Gets the Boot" received an Oscar nomination, and introduced the duo that would become Tom and Jerry. (Tom was originally "Jasper.") The series ran for 15 years and won seven Oscars. Many of the cartoons follow the pattern set in "Puss Gets the Boot": Mammy Two-Shoes (Lilian Randolph) warns Tom that if he makes a mess or lets in any mice, he's out on his ear ("O-W-T, out!"). Jerry overhears the threat and makes trouble. The look of the characters changed more noticeably over the years than the storylines: their rounded designs didn't really suit the widescreen format, so they were drawn flatter and more angular.
It's interesting to see how some of these cartoons prefigure the later work of Hanna and Barbera: the underwater antics in "The Cat and the Mermouse" anticipate Tom and Jerry's frolic with Esther Williams in Dangerous When Wet (1953); Yakky Doodle on The Yogi Bear Show (1961) was copied from Little Quacker. In several cartoons, Mammy Two-Shoes' voice has been redubbed, and the subtitles offer cleaned-up versions of her dialogue. In "Old Rockin' Chair Tom," she declares, "If you is a mouser, I is Lana Turner, which I ain't!" The subtitles read, "If you're a mouser
I'm Lana Turner, which I'm not." Whoopi Goldberg discusses the use of stereotypes in the introduction, and these later reworkings falsify history. (Unrated, suitable for ages 7 and older: cartoon violence, ethnic stereotypes) --Charles Solomon