Sunday, January 24, 2010

TOM & JERRY CARTOON KIT: Dir. Gene Deitch (1962)

The Tom and Jerry Cartoon Kit is a Tom and Jerry cartoon produced and released in 1962. It was directed by Gene Deitch and produced by William L. Snyder. Despite mixed reception, it is mainly known as the most critically acclaimed of the Gene Deitch Tom and Jerry shorts among members of the Tom and Jerry fanbase.


The cartoon is a seven-minute "commercial" for the Tom and Jerry Cartoon Kit, with which "anyone can now enter the lucrative field of animated cartoons." The items in the kit include the following:

  • Tom (described as "one mean, stupid cat")
  • Jerry ("one sweet, lovable mouse")
  • a hammer, knife, and stick of dynamite (collectively referred to as "assorted deadly weapons")
  • coffee and cigarettes (removed from kit and described as being "for the cartoonists")
  • a slice of watermelon

The narrator points out, "The result may not make sense, but it will last long enough for you to be comfortably seated before the feature begins." This statement refers to the original theatrical exhibition of the cartoon, in which it ran ahead of a feature film.

At first, the kit is set up by having Jerry eat the watermelon. He spits the seeds out, hitting (and thus waking) Tom. From this point the two torment each other in typical Tom and Jerry fashion by using the remaining items in the kit (not counting the coffee and cigarettes, or the dynamite stick which gets broken in half).

During the course of the cartoon, some other items appear, such as a book entitled Judo for Mice (from which Jerry learns to fight and, thus, overpower Tom), a gym with boxing equipment (where Tom gets training after being defeated by Jerry), a judo school (in which Tom enrolls - and subsequently graduates - after fighting and losing to Jerry again), assorted bricks, a plank of wood, a cement block, and a large block of marble (which Tom and Jerry use to prove their strength to each other by breaking them with bare hands). However, the block of marble falls through the floor due to its weight, putting Tom out of commission in the process. Aside from these items, the entire cartoon takes place over an almost non-existent background of plain color washes.

The cartoon ends with the box battered and empty except for the unconscious Tom. Jerry places the lid back on the box as the narrator explains, "Our next film will be for the kiddies, and will demonstrate a new poison gas. Thank you and good night." The music winds to a stop as if it were being played on a slowing phonograph record, then Jerry bows to the audience in stereotypical Japanese fashion.


Some syndicated stations aired a version of this episode without the narration. The reasons for this cut are not known; quite possibly, those prints were used for dubbing the narration into languages other than English. In additon, some TV reruns cut the "coffee and cigarettes" references.

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