Tom & Jerry: Golden Collection Volume One

BY Michael EdwardsPublished Nov 17, 2016

While William Hanna and Joseph Barbera might have had many successful creations during their long and fruitful animation partnership, there is none more influential than Tom & Jerry. Their never-ending shenanigans epitomise everything that was right with classic cartoon violence, going on to win seven Oscars in the process and inspiring The Simpsons' Itchy & Scratchy. Although they are still appearing in new cartoons some 70 years later, it is Tom & Jerry's earliest efforts that are the gems, and this new collection brings together the duo's first 37 efforts, released between 1940 and 1948. The relationship was pretty fully formed right from the very start ― Tom is usually warned not to break anything in the house and Jerry goes out of his way to ensure that is exactly what happens. Naturally, this could have gotten very repetitive very quickly, but Hanna and Barbera expanded the cast of characters and also created some imaginative scenarios, such as Tom as a concert pianist or Jerry's dalliance with a Jekyll and Hyde-like potion. It is easy to understand why the cat and mouse duo became so popular: their antics never get old. The very good thing is that all the cartoons here are completely uncensored. When shown on television these days, the more extreme violence is usually cut, as are the racial stereotypes, such as Tom's owner, Mammy Two-Shoes, and any blackface jokes. There is an unskippable disclaimer at the start of each disc that gives the usual "they were different times" explanation, but there's nothing here that approaches the level of the worst Looney Tunes efforts. The cartoons, for the most part, look a lot better than they should, considering many of the original negatives were lost in a fire back in the '70s. And the fact that some have been restored to near-perfect condition only serves to highlight just how messy and grainy a few others are. There are commentary tracks of varying quality on nine cartoons― some are disappointingly dull and don't reflect the onscreen hijinks at all. The only brand new extra is a 20-minute look at how physical comedy in the movies influenced Tom & Jerry, but the real highlight comes from an earlier set ― a half-hour feature on the early days of the Hanna-Barbera partnership. In addition, there is a brief historical overview featurette, an original pencil test of "The Midnight Snack" cartoon and the famous sequence of Jerry dancing with Gene Kelly from the movie Anchors Aweigh.

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