Judge Patrick Bromley went a courtin', he did ride, c-c-c-c-crambone!
Pile on the fun with your favorite cat and mouse!
It's been years since I've seen a Tom and Jerry cartoon. Once a staple of my daily childhood routine, for little reason other than it was always on (WFLD in Chicago used to run it both before and after school), the show just wasn't something I sought out once it stopped being spoon fed to me. It's not that I ever disliked Tom and Jerry, but the recent realization that I'd pretty much forgotten about them does make me think I never cared all that much in the first place.
It's a testament to the lasting power of the cartoons—or to just how many times I saw each of them—that watching Warner Bros.' new collection Tom and Jerry's Greatest Chases: Volume 3 made me feel like I had just seen them yesterday. Nearly every single one of the 14 cartoons contained here—all theatrical shorts from 1941-56—came rushing back to me in an instant, almost to the point where I could recite dialogue along with the characters (what little dialogue there is in a Tom and Jerry cartoon). If nothing else, I could anticipate every gag. These cartoons must be hardwired into my brain.
Here are the shorts you'll find on Tom and Jerry's Greatest Chases: Volume 3:
• Cat Napping
I'm surprised at how many classic Tom and Jerry films are seeing release after two previous volumes. Volume 3 includes old favorites like "The Two Mouseketeers" and "Touché, Pussy Cat," (which was nominated for an Oscar) both variations on the Alexandre Dumas classic featuring Jerry's little French cousin. Can you imagine anything comparable to a Tom and Jerry cartoon receiving an Oscar nomination today? It's rare that any category, much less the "Best Animated Short" category, recognize any kind of pop art. There's also "Blue Cat Blues," a widescreen gem which chronicles Tom's descent into depression after having his heart broken (one of the few instances where Tom and Jerry begin as friends, a rarity for the classic shorts). And, of course, my favorite, "Pecos Pest," in which Jerry's Uncle Pecos comes for a visit, continually plucking Tom's whiskers every time he breaks a gee-tar string (I would write out the lyrics to one of his songs, but they're utterly unintelligible). It's impressive the Greatest Chases collection is already three volumes deep and still includes cartoons as strong and memorable as these.
On the technical front, Warner Bros. has done a nice job with Volume 3. There's a good deal of wear and tear on many of the cartoons (scratches, grain, dirt, and overall visible age), but nothing that's going to take away from your enjoyment. Plus, the colors are bright and spiffy and everything has been cleaned up as well as possible, far outweighing any of the flaws you'll see in the video. Most of these shorts are presented in their original full frame aspect ratio, but the three originally presented in CinemaScope ("Touché, Pussy Cat," "The Flying Sorceress" and "Blue Cat Blues") are seen here in the proper 2.35 anamorphic widescreen format. The mono soundtrack is faithful and serviceable, especially considering most of these shorts contain little to no dialogue.
No doubt there are Tom and Jerry purists who will want to collect every volume in this Greatest Chases line. For the rest of us, a disc like Greatest Chases: Volume 3 is probably just right. It has enough variety and contains the right number of classic shorts to provide a solid representation of what made Tom and Jerry special. Anything more and this would start to feel like overkill (let's face it, pretty much all the cartoons are a variation on the same thing). Plus, the disc only collects shorts from the cat and mouse duo's heyday—none of those latter-year, "Tom and Jerry are friends working against a common foe" travesties. We came to watch a cat and a mouse try to kill each other. That's just what Greatest Chases: Volume 3 delivers. Ah, youth.
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