Wednesday, January 14, 2015
The Tom-idorian Reaction
And so we start with the usual introductions. Jerry is a master swordsman, and even though he's just a mouse, you'll find that he's strong enough to block the sword strikes of a cat. How that works exactly I'll never know. Maybe it's a mitochondria-type deal, as with the residents of The Phantom Menace. But every strong, skilled Yin needs a bumbling Yang to provide completeness and to tackle the really big bad guys in these things, and that comes in the form of French Nibbles. At least, that's according to the official IMDb page. Voiced by the lovely Francoise Brun-Cottan... oh, this kid's going to be a star! Apparently, she got typecast a little bit. Nibbles became Tuffy in all the other Tom and Jerry as Musketeers shorts, but she was Fifi Le Flea, the love interest in The Flea Circus. Only a star could get a role written for her like that. My favourite part in this cartoon would have to be at 4:02 when Nibbles says "PUSSYCAT!!!" on the double take.
Anyway, it's pretty standard stuff, plot-wise. Think The Little Orphan, but transposed from Thanksgiving to your typical French lunch. This time, however, Tom is officially tasked with guarding the food, unlike in The Little Orphan where it's just implied. And this time, the stakes couldn't be higher. If Tom fails, it's the guillotine for him, which they pan over to. Tom gulps quietly to himself.
Soon enough, however, Jerry and his little gray partner are inside the walls of the dominion. Their mission? To liberate the state for the commoners? To turn this monarchy into a democracy, if only in fits and starts? Well, sure, all in due time, but for now they just wanna get something to eat. Especially that little French Nibbles. As we learned from the orphan versions of Nibbles in previous celluloid incarnations, he's always hungry. But no ordinary food will do for this little guy. The tallest Swiss cheese in the history of the world will have to do. The holes in the Swiss cheese actually are windows next to a staircase, and Nibbles quickly climbs to the top, thereby inspiring Jacques Tati and one of his films... I forget which one. I know, I should know that. Nibbles falls and lands on a banana, which Jerry ends up ingesting, and quite against his will, if I'm reading that facial expression correctly. Boy! Always with the bananas in these things. I don't get it, and I never will. What's wrong with starfruit? What is that, chopped liver? Molded whitefish?
Soon enough, however, Tom gets wind of the two mice, and a mighty battle ensues. I'm pressed for time, so the highlights escape me at the moment. Jerry does manage to step on a spoon and send something splatting into Tom's face. I remember that. Also, the little grey mouse sends an axe falling in Tom's direction. Tom doesn't get split in half this time, but just loses the back of his outfit. No reason not to be polite in these things from time to time!
Oh, it just came back to me. Here's another instance of where Tom gets stabbed in the ass and tries to hold in his scream for as long as he can, face turning red, mouth clenched like a fist, what have you. It's not as tastefully done this time, as we can see where Jerry is sticking in the sword, more or less.
To cut to the chase, a cannon is loaded up with food, and Nibbles lights the fuse. I'm reminded of one of the main criticisms of the plot of The Wizard of Oz (1939). Well, it's more of a stand-up comedian's snarky beefs, really, about the bucket of water that gets thrown at the Wicked Witch. Maybe that's not a valid comparison, but it's what came to mind. Maybe it's a good rule in general. Basically, never keep a cannon near the banquet table. If you're going to have a food fight, just use your hands. Anyway, Nibbles must've used too much powder, because when the cannon goes off, the explosion is so large that the entire screen is engulfed in clouds. It goes too far and all the kids end up crying and playtime's definitely over, but it's the end of the cartoon, so it's appropriate in that respect.
And so, happy music plays, and both of the mice walk away from the crime scene triumphant with food in hand. See, the funny part is that Jerry's got a teeny piece of cheese, while Nibbles has about five links of sausage to munch upon. Meanwhile, off in the distance, there's a dramatic drumroll and the guillotine drops. Both mice take a brief moment to look on in horror and gulp for their fallen comrade. But that lasts for a couple seconds, and Nibbles shrugs off the death of the cat by saying "Pauvre, pauvre pussycat. C'est la guerre!" And off they happily go again. Well, that didn't last long!
One interesting feature of the DVD is the closed captioning, as you might have been able to tell from the provided image. All of Nibbles' lines seem to be in French, but they print them in English for the benefit of rubes like you and I. Never did get around to those French subtitles.
-so sayeth The Movie Hooligan