Monday, February 11, 2019

Tom and Jerry: "The Night Before Christmas" (1941)

Premiered December 6, 1941.

This edition of “Oscar Takes A Holiday” focuses on Fred Quimby and Rudolf Ising, who co-produced this Tom and Jerry cartoon.  Quimby won eight Academy Awards for Best Animated Short.  

Fred Quimby with his collection of Oscars!
Seven of Quimby’s Oscars were for producing Tom and Jerry shorts, including four in a row from 1944 to 1947.  Quimby’s other Academy Award win was for “The Milky Way”, which he shared with Ising.  It’s worth noting that Ising and Quimby’s win marked the first time the animation Oscar went to someone other than Walt Disney, who won the first eight animated short Academy Awards. 

The Night Before Christmas was written and directed by Tom and Jerry's creators William Hanna and Joseph Barbera.

On to our review:

On Christmas Eve, Jerry the mouse leaves his hole in the wall and makes his way to the Christmas tree.  He plays with some of the toys and gifts that surround the tree.  

Jerry’s Yuletide fun comes to an end when he stumbles on Tom the cat, who is sleeping under the tree, a chase around the tree ensues.  The mouse manages to escape Tom.

However, Tom eventually chases Jerry outside through the mail slot... 

...and barricades the mouse outside on a frigid, snowing night.  

While the cat settles on a pillow by the fireside, it looks like Jerry is doomed to freeze, unless Tom finds some Christmas spirit and lets him back inside.  

J.A. Morris says:

I watched lots of classic Tom and Jerry shorts when they were shown in syndication during my childhood.  However I didn’t see The Night Before Christmas until the early-2000s when it aired as part of the Christmas episode of ToonHeads.  

This is basically a typical Tom and Jerry cartoon except it’s takes place at Christmas.  You know the drill: Tom chases Jerry, the mouse survives and gives the cat his comeuppance.  The Night Before Christmas is beautifully animated and features some nice scenes, such as Jerry seeing his reflection in an ornament…

...and disguising as a Christmas light:

What makes this different from other shorts is that (SPOILER ALERT) Tom does the right thing when he rescues Jerry from the snow and puts his never-ending pursuit of Jerry on hold in honor of Christmas.  

It’s a sweet moment.  At Christmas, we often have to spend time with people we’re not necessarily crazy about.  I guess if Tom and Jerry can do that, we can all make an effort to the same during the holiday season.  

The Night Before Christmas is a great cartoon and is recommended to Yuletide fans of all ages. 

J.A. Morris’ rating:

4 candy canes!

RigbyMel says: 

The Night Before Christmas is a delightful, festive Tom & Jerry short.    Like J.A.,  I grew up watching classic Tom & Jerry cartoons in syndication, but this particular short is relatively new to me.  

Somewhat atypically for a Tom & Jerry cartoon, this short has a  touching “peace on earth goodwill to all” denouement, but as it’s Christmas-themed, it makes sense that the holiday spirit catches up with them.  

I was also struck by the fact that several of the gags are pretty popular in several Christmas shorts from around the same time period.  Disney & Warner Brothers also played with the notion of a character enjoying their funhouse-like reflection in an ornament,  hiding from an antagonist by pretending to be a toy or a decoration of some sort or slapping a “Do Not Open Until Xmas” sticker on someone’s mouth.    

This makes sense from a cartoon comedy standpoint, but the personalities of characters created by different studios helps to put different spins on similar gags.   

I did wonder who would  have set out the kinder, gentler holiday mousetrap outside of Jerry’s mousehole though?  Was it Tom? Or was it the humans that live in the house?  Or maybe Santa?  A puzzlement! 

It’s also interesting to note that this was only the third Tom & Jerry short to be released in theaters - the first two are "Puss Gets The Boot" (1940) and "The Midnight Snack" (1941). 

The Night Before Christmas is a fun, holiday short and is definitely recommended for all ages. 

RigbyMel’s rating: 

4 candy canes. 


Shakeel said...

I love Tom and Jerry

RigbyMel said...

We do too, Shakeel! :-)

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Ashlee Rolfson said...

I absolutely loved reading your review of "Tom and Jerry: Night Before Christmas." It's one of those timeless classics that brings back so many cherished memories. The way you captured the essence of the film and its enduring appeal is truly commendable.