Wednesday, October 01, 2014
Tweety and the Mousey-Man
Seriously, though, how can this Tom and Jerry DVD collection of mine possibly be complete without Puttin' on the Dog? That's like the quintessential Tom and Jerry cartoon! That'd be like having a Warner Brothers cartoon collection without Catch as Cats Can... okay, bad example. But back to Kitty Foiled, which could of course be the name of any Tom and Jerry cartoon, when you get right down to it. Society has to root for the mouse, at least on the silver screen. In real life, of course, if there's a mouse in the house, it's a remarkably different story.
We start out as usual, with Tom and Jerry fighting. Well, Tom trying in vain to hit Jerry, but always missing, and causing hella collateral damage in the process. Where's that nice colored maid to keep the cat in line when you need her? Is it wrong of me to like it at 0:41 when Tom hits the lamp with the broom? I thought so. Anyway, usually as these things go, Jerry has to escape to find a witness to his troubles. This time, the witness is already there: a Tweety-esque canary in a cage. It's NOT Tweety, all right? It's totally not! Check MGM's lawyers, because it's not. Alas, there's no time for backstory, but apparently this is the first time that the bird and the mouse think to team up against the cat. The bird was stand-offish at first, having its heart broken by mice before. But now that it's settled down a bit, and looking around for a hobby, passions dulled by the passage of time, it's ready for a bromance or... whatever. I can't tell what gender the bird is. The point is, there's undeniable connections there between the beast of the land and the fowl of the air. They're both small, they're both the prey of bored housecats. They have the same heartbeat, for Gawd'z zake! ...why did I feel like I was being indoctrinated when hearing their heartbeats? Hmm... and so, instead of just standing there, looking shocked, like the bored teens in the year 800,000 in The Time Machine (1960), a stand is taken. The bird forms a metaphorical fist, and drops the bottom of its cage on the cat's head just before the cat's about to finish that stupid mouse off for good, saving us all a lot of trouble. The mouse hides, and the cat casts its gaze skyward at its new fangled enemy.
Boy, that cat doesn't waste any time! Like a bolt of lightning, Tom jumps into the bottomless cage, and the bird barely gets out of the way. ...I hate to cut it short, and I know, it's probably too late for that, but basically it becomes a two-on-one chase for Tom. There's the usual senseless violence: the mouse bashes all of the cat's rather giant teeth out with a hammer, the bird closes the mouth of a bear skin rug on the cat's neck, what have you. Actually, they waste an opportunity: in the house is one of those tables that you can open and close. It's not closed on Tom's neck! You'll have to watch a Stooge film for that, I suppose... if I only knew which one! The mouse and bird form an alliance in Jerry's hole in the wall... and a little too close to the entrance, if anyone minds me saying. I mean, a cat could reach in there with its paw and get the two of them! You ever have a cat on the other side of a door, and you stick something under the door to see if the cat can get it? Oh, the cat can so get it. Better not use your finger! Oh, they'll gitcha with their claw. Trust me.
Of course, all chase and no slow spots a boring cartoon makes. Even Tex Avery knew that, and his cartoons got pretty non-stop as the 40s came to a close. And so, just as Jerry pretended to be a negro mouse in that one... you know, the one with the baby mouse... let me check the box... The Milky Waif! That's it! Anyway, this time, Jerry pretends to be an Indian, slowly walking along. Jerry says "How!" to the cat and keeps going. Alas, the treaty's broken all too quickly when the cat sees the bird hiding on Jerry's back in... one of those things? What are they called? Anyway, let's move on. The chase is also stopped when a gun enters the scene. The bird picks up a gun and holds it on Tom for what seems like an eternity. Finding the scene terribly amusing, Jerry unscrews a light bulb and drops it. When it breaks, it sounds an awful lot like a gunshot. Tom thinks he's been shot and... well, they milk that scene for all it's worth, needles to say.
The two little beasties have something else in common: they change the pace of the chase by hitting their heads on something. The bird goes first, but manages to make a quick getaway anyway. Then, the mouse. And, maybe out of respect to his seniority, the mouse gets the bigger payoff. Having been lightly stunned, Tom grabs Jerry and... what else? Ties him to the track of a model railroad track! And, unlike in real life, a toy train set in an animated cartoon seems extraordinarily large. Clearly this cartoon informed the thinking of The Wrong Trousers all those decades later. Or maybe I should put it like this...
And then, Tom grabbed him...
He tied him up!
He threw him on the railroad track!!!!
The train a'started comin'...
AND THEN? AND THEN???????
...and then, along came the canary with a loaded bowling ball bag. Clearly, it's time to revisit the scene at the beginning of Monty Python and the Holy Grail. Unfortunately, the bird's job of aiming this time is a little harder than with the cage at the beginning, but despite all its difficulties, the bird pulls it all off rather swimmingly. Just before Tom is about to run over Jerry with the toy train... and believe me, it'd hurt. Sure, the train by itself probably wouldn't hurt Jerry all that much. But Tom's sitting on the train, mind you! And all that extra weight? Well... (sucking teeth noise) Anyway, before all that happens, like an early Walt Disney "nature documentary," the bad guy's plan is foiled and the cute little creature gets away. The bowling ball is dropped, making a big hole in the floor just behind Jerry. Tom and the model train plummet through the hole straight into hell... not quite, as we hear a crashing noise... why am I suddenly reminded of the end of Beetlejuice? And I mean just before Beetle's waiting room gag, of course.
Whew! Keep it short, my ass. Anyway, these things usually end with Tom all bandaged up, and taking care of Jerry or, as in The Milky Waif, taking care of Jerry's grey little friend. Apparently, what happened to Tom this time was so gruesome, the filmmakers couldn't bear to animate it. Instead, we end with the mouse and the bird in the birdcage together, whistling, enjoying a few well earned comforts. The salted pork is particularly good... sorry, wrong film again. The mouse and bird end with a delightful song......... BORING!!! Get the cat back already!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
-so sayeth The Movie Hooligan