Tom and Jerry together form an Academy Award winning pair of a cat (Tom) and a mouse (Jerry). The shorts of Tom & Jerry were written, and directed by William Hanna and Joseph Barbera for MGM (Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer). Their first appearance was in “Puss Gets the Boot”.
In each short Tom is shown trying unsuccessfully trying to catch Jerry. In some shorts they both are seen as going along very well and there is no particular reason shown as to why Tom is always desperately chasing Jerry all the time but irrespective of the reason the chase given by Tom to Jerry has always been admired by viewers. In most cases Tom is unable to catch Jerry simply because Jerry is smarter and more cunning than Tom. The shorts of Tom & Jerry have had the most violence ever in he field of animation though it never involved blood or gore in any scenes. In several shorts Tom and Jerry are shown trying to murder each other with axe, pistols, and explosives along with using whatever is handy as a weapon to hit each other. Music has always played a very important role in all the Tom and Jerry shorts enhancing the emotions in the scenes. The music for the shorts was created by music director Scott Bradley.
While Tom is depicted as bluish-grey housecat, Jerry is shown as a small brown mouse living in the same house. Even though Tom is very energetic he is unable to catch Jerry as Jerry is too smart for Tom. In most of the shorts Jerry is shown as winning in end but in some rare shorts Tom wins and Jerry loses. Even though both take pleasure in hurting each other they help out each other when one of them is in serious danger and then they end up being friends. Tom and Jerry are rarely, if ever, shown speaking. Most of the sound effects for the pair were provided by William Hanna also the co-director of the series. A vicious bulldog is the protector and guarding angel of Jerry in some shorts. He is friendly towards the mouse but is aggressive towards the cat.
Early shorts showed that Mammy Two Shoes was the housemaid of the house where Tom lives. Her face is never shown, only her voice is heard and she punishes Tom whenever he misbehaves. She appeared in many shorts till 1952 when Tom was shown living with a couple. After this Tom’s ownership again changes to a woman who is very strict, adores mice and punishes Tom for chasing Jerry.
When “Puss Gets the Boot” was released to theatres on February 10, 1940 no one had imagined that this cat and mouse pair will become so famous. In this short the mouse breaks every fragile thing he can gets his hands so that the cat will be blamed and thrown out of the house. Hanna and Barbera started working on other shorts. The attitude towards the short changed only when it became a favorite with theater owners and was nominated for Academy award for best Short subject ultimately losing out to another MGM cartoon “The Milky Way”. Realizing the potential of the cat and mouse short, Fred Quimby, asked Hanna and Barbera to drop other cartoons they were working on and asked them to work on a series featuring the cat and mouse. It was animator John Carr who suggested the name of “Tom and Jerry”. Since the Tom & Jerry went into production in 1941 with the release of “The Midnight snack” Hanna and Barbera directed nothing else except for the Tom and Jerry series.
Shorts of Tom and Jerry were nominated thirteen times for the Academy Award for Best Short Subjects: Cartoons category and went on to win the award seven times. Tom and Jerry has won more Academy Awards than any other animated series. The shorts which won the Academy Awards are “Yankee Doodle Mouse” (1943), “Quiet, Please”(1945), “The Cat Concerto” (1947), “Mouse Cleaning” (1948), “Two Mouseketeers” (1952), and “Johann Mouse” (1953).
After TV started making a dent in revenues of animated shorts, MGM executives decided to close the animation studio. The last of Hanna and Barbera Tom and Jerry shorts “Tot Watchers” was released on August 1, 1958. After Gene Deitch and chuck Jones took charge of Tom and Jerry in 1961 and 1963 respectively, the Hanna-Barbera Studio bought Tom and Jerry from MGM in 1975. They made 48 cartoons between 1975 and 1977 when the series finally ended.