Friday, July 04, 2014

Suffer the Animated Cats

Our next Tom and Jerry cartoon is called Sufferin' Cats!  And like our previous one, I noticed it's directed by Joseph Hanna and William Barbara.  That's right... before they were known for television animation that was ubiquitous and cheap, they were part of that golden era of animation when it was relatively fresh and new and I guess everyone was trying to keep up with Disney's state of the art, if not Disney's storytelling ethos.  And I'm pretty sure Disney would never attempt the positively ribald wordplay that's attempted here!  You see the one to the left, and there's one at the end which I'll leave for you to behind.
Anyway, the plot.  Our origin point of the vector, so to speak, is the usual opening high-jinks.  Tom the cat has managed to tie a fishing line to Jerry the mouse's tail, and he's making Jerry Mouse run away as far as he can so he can reel him back in.  This happens once.  The second time, the mouse gets away, and a mighty chase ensues.  Tom Cat goes to the window.  He looks left, then right, then left again... then does a double take.  That seems to happen a lot in these Tom and Jerry cartoons.  Tom takes off after the mouse.
And then... we get the direction of our vector.  Jerry Mouse runs into... another cat!  It's subtle at first, but we slowly realize that this mouse is as strong as the cats, if not stronger.  The mouse runs into the new cat, and the new cat falls into the garbage can that it was picking stuff out of.  Our cat, Tom, comes up to this scene.  Jerry Mouse plays a nasty game of arbitrage and kisses the other cat, pretending to have a new BFF.  Tom fights to get Jerry back but is out-hissed by the new cat.  Jerry knows that this means trouble, but fortunately this new cat is a gourmet and likes his mouse sandwiches with lots of pepper.  This could go on for years!
Now, we've seen this kind of thing before.  And by we, I mean me.  I wouldn't dream to speak for you... yet.  Anyway, I'm thinking Putty Tat Trouble, for one.  Lots of WB cartoons have used the two cats formula.  A Gruesome Twosome also comes to mind.  Then there's Odd Ant Out and I've Got Ants in My Plans, where the blue Aardvark does battle with a green aardvark over one ant.  Oh, what is it about ants that sound like Dean Martin that make you just want to eat them?  But I suppose that Sufferin' Cats! came first.  Gotta give 'em some credit.
Besides, it's nothing if not violent.  The big climactic finale involves the two cats agreeing to split the mouse.  Unfortunately for Jerry, they got an axe right there and everything.  And more important, a stump for a cutting board.  Tom's conscience gets the better of him.  It's just a devil cat, and no angel cat.  Sounds about right.  Even the Coen brothers might like this twist.  The devil cat tries to tell Tom to use the axe to split open the other cat's head, and not split the mouse in half.  It's a one-shot type deal, I suppose.  How are the filmmakers going to keep this from being an X-rated bloodbath?  Well, you can probably figure it out... so I'll leave that up to you.

-so sayeth The Movie Hooligan

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