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Western Animation: The Cat Concerto

"The Cat Concerto" is a 1946 Tom and Jerry short, released to theatres on April 26, 1947 by Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer. It was produced by Fred Quimby and directed by William Hanna and Joseph Barbera, with musical supervision by Scott Bradley, and animation by Kenneth Muse, Ed Barge and Irven Spence. It won the 1946 Academy Award for Best Short Subject: Cartoons. In 1994 it was voted #42 of The 50 Greatest Cartoons of all time by members of the animation field. The short won the duo their fourth consecutive Academy Award for Best Animated Short Film.

In what was then an unusual setting for a Tom and Jerry short (this coming before the influx of Recycled IN SPACE plots that would be used in the series later), the short opens with Tom getting ready to perform Franz Liszt's "Hungarian Rhapsody No. 2" on a piano in front of an audience at a formal recital. Little does he know that Jerry has (for some reason) decided to live inside the piano, and is rudely awakened by the hammers as Tom plays the piano keys. Jerry then realizes what is happening, but decides to take it in stride and come to the top of the piano, playfully "conducting" Tom with his finger. This irritates Tom, who then flicks Jerry away. And of course, This Means War!...

Also of note is that a nearly identical Bugs Bunny short, "Rabbit Rhapsody," was released at the exact same time, complete with Bugs playing "Hungarian Rhapsody No. 2" and going up against a mouse living inside the piano. To this day no one knows who copied from whom or whether it was a complete coincidence. Friz Freleng, the director of Rabbit Rhapsody, frequently insisted that it was a complete coincidence that his short was so similar to the Tom and Jerry one. At any rate, "The Cat Concerto" was the one that received the Oscar.

This cartoon provides examples of:

  • Amusing Injuries
  • Cats Are Mean: But mice return the meanness.
  • Half-Dressed Cartoon Animal: Unusual for Tom, of course.
  • Kick the Dog: Or more appropriately, Flick the Mouse.
  • Mickey Mousing: To an insane degree.
  • Piano Key Wave
  • Urban Legend: There exists a rumor that the script for Rabbit Rhapsody was accidentally sent to MGM instead of Warner and that MGM more or less copied the idea before sending it to Warner. This has never been confirmed. Other versions say it was the other way around, or that instead the animation cels got mixed up and sent to the wrong place. It's hard to tell one way or another, as strange as it is to see Tom at a piano recital, it's also strange having Bugs Bunny be antagonized by a mouse.
    • According to Joe Adamson (Bugs Bunny: 50 Years And Only One Grey Hare, 1990, Henry Holt), Technicolor accidentaly sent processed footage of Rabbit Rhapsody to M-G-M, prompting the expedience of getting Cat Concerto finished and released.

Blitz WolfAcademy Award for Best Animated Short FilmGerald McBoing-Boing
Rooty Toot TootThe 50 Greatest CartoonsThe Barber of Seville

alternative title(s): The Cat Concerto
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