Mouse Trouble (1944)

Article 4766 by Dave Sindelar
Date: 2-23-2015
Directed by Joseph Barbera and William Hanna
No voice cast credited
Country: USA
What it is: Tom and Jerry short

Tom gets a book in the mail on mouse-catching, but when he tries the tricks on Jerry, they all backfire.

As might be guessed, the presence of anthropomorphic animals is the primary piece of fantastic content in this short. That being said, I’m going to have to face a rather sad fact that my love for the classic Warner Brothers cartoons may have spoiled me somewhat. I mention this because this one gets a lot of praise on IMDB for being one of the very best of the Tom and Jerry shorts, and I’m willing to believe it is. Yet, while watching it, I find myself smiling a little at the gags, but I never quite lose myself in their hilarity. It’s as if there is always something very subtle missing, and I’m beginning to suspect it has something to do with the precision with which the Warner Brothers team would set up and set off a gag; the gags in this cartoon seem just a hair off in the timing department. I know in particular I miss the precision of the musical scores that Carl Stalling did for the Warner cartoons. There might also be an emotional element involved as well. In some ways, this cartoon is reminiscent of the Road Runner cartoons with Tom as the coyote and Jerry as the Road Runner. Once I made this observation, I realized that I relate on an emotional level with the coyote; I find something appealingly human about his perpetual frustration and the sense that everything (including the laws of physics) are against him. I feel no such emotional connection to Tom; there’s a certain sense of cruelty to him that turns me away, and I don’t really care what happens to him. Still, this cartoon does have one moment thing that stands out, and that’s that the wind-up female mouse toy that Tom uses to lure Jerry does a Mae West imitation, and that’s the type of extra little detail that can make a difference.

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