Tom and Jerry Story

1 January 2017

A cat, large, gray and devilish, a Machiavellian glint in his yellow-irised eyes, and a mouse, small, brown, cherubic yet cheeky, chase each other around a kitchen, demolishing the ice box, ironing board, plate rail, a whole sink full of dishes and littering the floor with egg shells, dripping yolks and oozing jam. The kitchen battle wages on, its final outcome unknown to the participants. But to the people watching in the warm darkness of the theater, there is little doubt as to the identity of the victor – it will be the little mouse. For the cat and mouse are Tom and Jerry, and this, of course is a Tom & Jerry cartoon.

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The ever-dueling duo have chased each other from the Hollywood Bowl to Hungary to out space and back, and fifty years after their movie debut, are still going strong. Vintage Tom & Jerry cartoons still play at the cinema, on television, and are packaged for sale or rental on videotape. Born in Hollywood, Tom and Jerry have captured the delight, and the laughter, of audiences around the globe, garnered enough Academy Awards to make any movie star selfishly smug, and starred in motion pictures, television and comic books. (p9) And, Tom and Jerry have very definite personalities.

Tom is a fiendish opportunist, always anxious to ingratiate himself with the powers that be, whether housekeeper, dog, or even, on occasion, mouse; while Jerry, the impish schemer, is happy minding his own business until cornered, piqued or generally provoked. (p16) To discover their secret, one must turn back to the place of their creation, the MGM main lot in Culver City, California. Here, in a round-cornered, two-story, cream-colored stucco building containing a rabbit warren of rooms for animators, layout artists, in-betweeners, ink and paint girls, cameramen and movieola machines, Tom and Jerry leaped magically to life. (p 21)

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