This cat and mouse cartoon series kicked of on February 20, 1940 with the short "Puss Gets the Boot". Distributed by MGM, directed by Bill Hanna and Joe Barbera and produced by Rudolf Ising, this Academy Award nominee ran for just over 9 mins.
Apart from the cat being referred to as "Jasper" and not Tom, and the mouse not having a name, this first adventure pretty much established the Tom and Jerry format.
Cat views mouse as a tasty snack. Cat chases mouse but is usually outwitted.
Plenty of violence, mayhem and destruction. Lots of visual gags, little dialogue.
This basically is the formula for every successful cat and mouse animated cartoon, and no other feline and rodent pair were better performers of the formula than Tom and Jerry.
The first series of T and J pictures, directed by Hanna and Barbera for MGM, 1940 -1957, were absolute masterpieces of animation.
Beautifully drawn, very fast paced action all the way and lovable, likable characters.
Tom nearly always came off the worst in any encounter with cute little Jerry mouse.
The cat would often be gullible enough to accept a lighted stick of dynamite from the rodent, stand there admiring it until it exploded, leaving him nothing but a black smudge with a pair of blinking, disbelieving eyes.
Hilariously impossible things happened in these early T&J shorts, the duo would hit each other with anything they could lay their hands on, push each other of off buildings, shoot each other and commit every conceivable (and inconceivable) act of violence to their opponent.
All this with never a drop of blood, or long term harm!
Wonderful supporting characters appeared in the early Tom and Jerry cartoons. Spike the Bulldog was a formidable adversary to Tom, who would often beat up on the cat egged on by the crafty little mouse.
The black housekeeper, often referred to as "Mammy Two Shoes", ruled the roost in the household.
Mammy was only ever shown from the waist down, she gave a raucous cry of "Tomassss" whenever she discovered Tom's wrong doings.
In today's world, of course, Mammy Two Shoes is considered to be a racist character and so her voice has been dubbed over and, in some reissue prints, she has incredibly been replaced by a white maid.
Hanna and Barbera said goodbye to MGM in 1957 when they left to open their own studio.
There was no more Tom Cat and Jerry Mouse cartoons produced by MGM until 1961 when the studio commissioned a short series from Czechoslovakia.
Unfortunately, this run of animated shorts lacked the finesse, humor and magic of the original series and was never as popular.
In 1975 a new series of T. and J. was made by the Hanna Barbera Studio, who had been able to buy their cat and mouse characters from MGM.
This was a made for television run of cartoons and therefor was produced on a very low budget, and it showed.
Far too little action, way too much dialogue and a shortage of 'violence' meant that these 48 TV cartoons bore little resemblance to the early series made for theatrical release.
The original T&J cartoons have been criticized by some for their barbarous content and the effect that they may have had on children.
It is doubtful whether many kids got the impression that it was OK to act in the way the characters did in these cat and mouse chase adventures.
Tom and Jerry lived in their own world, separate from reality. These animated shorts were made to entertain, and entertain they did.
The History of Felix the Cat
The history of Felix the cat began in 1919 and this mischievous feline cartoon character has kept generations entertained to the present day.
A lovable rouge of a cat chases a cute endearing mouse but cute mouse gets the better of the cat in the end. Lots of cartoon violence throughout the show. Now hold on! Doesn't this all seem a little familiar?