Tom enters from stage left in white tie and tails, sits at the piano, gets his focus as the orchestra in the pit beneath him warms up, and begins to play Liszt's "Hungarian Rhapsody." Unbeknownst to Tom and the audience, Jerry is asleep across several of the low-note keys inside the instrument, so Tom's playing eventually wakes him. Jerry is pummeled by hammers, bounced by wires, and squeezed by Tom as the cat tries to play the concerto while dispensing with Jerry. Jerry's defensive antics add to the brio of the program and answer Tom with Jerry's own skillful musical attack. By the concerto's end, the duet leaves only one animal standing for the audience's applause. Written by
'The Cat Concerto,' a 1947 MGM "Tom and Jerry" cartoon, is one hundred percent class. In this episode, Tom is a professional piano player, and he emerges before a respectful audience to perform "Hungarian Rhapsody Number 2" by Franz Liszt. However, Tom's piano-playing rudely disrupts Jerry, who was sleeping peacefully inside the musical instrument. In return for this inconvenience, the small mouse decides to inflict revenge upon the cat, who, playing feverishly at the piano, is currently at his most vulnerable. 'The Cat Concerto' is, interestingly, the first and only "Tom and Jerry" cartoon that I can remember seeing, and it certainly stacks up very well against some of the "Silly Symphonies" and "Merry Melodies" that I've also been watching recently. The cartoon goes for just eight minutes, and, despite the complete absence of any dialogue, it carries a tremendous amount of energy. The action never becomes monotonous, and we can only watch with excitement to see if the frantic pianist, despite Jerry's interruptions, can maintain his composure until the end of the song.
Following its release on April 26 1947, 'The Cat Concerto' met with a spate of controversy, when Warner Brothers accused MGM of plagiarism, citing incredible similarities between it and 'Rhapsody Rabbit (1946).' In the latter film, Bug Bunny sits at a piano, plays Liszt's "2nd Hungarian Rhapsody" and is bothered by an unnamed mouse. Nevertheless, 'The Cat Concerto' remains one of the most beloved of all "Tom and Jerry" cartoons, also scooping up the 1947 Oscar for Best Animated Short. The film's main asset is its incredible simplicity; directors Joseph Barbera and William Hanna have taken a basic idea (wherever that idea might have come from), and have turned it into something both classy and fun. I didn't find that there were really any huge laugh-out-loud moments, but the entire eight minutes was extremely entertaining, and certainly not a bad way to spend my time.
After each character receives their own share of bruising and batterings with the performance never missing a beat Jerry eventually gains control over the piano, while an exhausted Tom tries admirably to give the appearance that he is still playing. As the rhapsody comes to a close, and is met with rousing applause, a beaten Tom slumps onto the piano keys, and Jerry climbs onto the top of the instrument to accept all the credit. This is a satisfying ending to the film: we certainly respect Tom for the commendable effort he put into the heartfelt performance, but we always wanted the little mouse to win.
1 of 1 people found this review helpful.
Was this review helpful to you?