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With: Mel Blanc, June Foray (voices)
Written by: Chuck Jones, Michael Maltese, etc.
Directed by: Chuck Jones
MPAA Rating: Not Rated
Running Time: 216
Date: 03/18/2013

Tom and Jerry: The Chuck Jones Collection (2009)

3 1/2 Stars (out of 4)

Cat and a Hot Grin Goof

By Jeffrey M. Anderson

From 1940 to 1957, William Hanna and Joseph Barbera made the very popular, much loved, Oscar-winning Tom and Jerry shorts at MGM, while at the same time Chuck Jones made equally brilliant cartoons over at Warner Bros. At the end of the 1950s, studios began shutting down their animation wings. Somehow, in 1963, Jones wound up taking over Tom and Jerry and working for his former competitor. He made a very interesting, often brilliant series of 34 cartoons between 1963 and 1967. Most cartoon enthusiasts consider this a minor period both in the career of Jones and in the history of Tom and Jerry, but hopefully this new two-disc set from Warner Home Video will shed new light on them. As the creator of the Road Runner and Wile E. Coyote, Jones took easily to this kind of chase formula, though he made some minor tweaks to make Tom a bit more monstrous looking (perhaps modeled a bit after Boris Karloff?) and Jerry a bit sweeter (with a cute little twirl to his eyelashes). Some fans complained that Jones did away with the earlier, more plot-driven formulas in exchange for a series of gags, but to my eyes the change isn't that drastic. In these shorts, Jones's style is instantly recognizable, with his long pauses, use of stillness and tiny motions and his astonishingly rich, stylish backgrounds. In one of my favorites, Snowbody Loves Me (1964), Jerry carves out a new home inside a big wheel of cheese, and Jones shows the many "rooms," each with interesting shapes and plays of light coming in through the holes. But in other shorts, like The Cat Above and the Mouse Below (1964), it's evident that Jones was mining some of his earlier Warner material. And some of the later shorts are only supervised by Jones and directed by others, but overall, this new set is highly recommended. The new DVD comes with all 34 shorts and two good featurettes on Jones.

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