Tom and Jerry (Van Beuren)

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Tom and Jerry are fictional characters that starred in a series of early sound cartoons produced by the Van Beuren Studios, and distributed by RKO Pictures. The series lasted from 1931 to 1933.


American cartoon artist Joseph Barbera began his career as an animator and storyman on this series. In 1940, Barbera co-created with William Hanna another duo of cartoon characters for MGM using the same names: a cat and mouse named Tom and Jerry . When Official Films purchased the Van Beuren library in the early 1940s, the characters were renamed Dick and Larry to avoid confusion with MGM's Tom and Jerry. Today, animation historians refer to the original Tom and Jerry characters as Van Beuren's Tom and Jerry. Today, all of these cartoons are in the public domain.[ citation needed ]


The characters were a Mutt and Jeff-like pair, one short (Jerry) and one tall (Tom). Each cartoon featured a different adventure and the plot varied from film to film. Sometimes they were lawyers, hunters, plumbers, hobos, etc. The duo were likely named after the stage play and/or the mixed drink of the same name, both of which predated the duo by a century through 1821 book titled Life in London written by Pierce Egan (author of Boxiana), itself based on George Cruikshank's, Robert Cruikshank's, Isaac Richard's, and Egan's true story. Stylistically, the cartoons were similar to those made by Fleischer Studios, which like Van Beuren Studios was located in New York City. According to Markstein's Toonopedia, Fleischer staff sometimes moonlighted at Van Beuren's, which was situated just across the road (accounting for the many visual similarities between the two). Tom and Jerry's adventures were generally absurdist comedies, featuring music as sound effects.. One 1932 short (Piano Tooners) introduced a "flapper" character clearly[ weasel words ] derived from Fleischer's Betty Boop,[ citation needed ] further demonstrating the stylistic relationship between the two studios. Tom and Jerry, however, did not obtain popularity of the type Mickey Mouse, Betty Boop, and Bosko had, and the series was cancelled in 1933.


TitleDirectorsFirst release
Wot a Night John Foster and George StallingsAugust 1, 1931
Polar PalsJohn Foster and George RufleSeptember 5, 1931
TroubleJohn Foster and George StallingsOctober 10, 1931
Jungle JamJohn Foster and George RufleNovember 14, 1931
A Swiss TrickJohn Foster and George StallingsDecember 19, 1931
RocketeersJohn Foster and George RufleJanuary 30, 1932
Rabid HuntersJohn Foster and George StallingsFebruary 27, 1932
In the BagJohn Foster and George RufleMarch 26, 1932
Joint WipersJohn Foster and George StallingsApril 23, 1932
Pots and Pans John Foster and George RufleMay 14, 1932
The Tuba TooterJohn Foster and George StallingsJune 4, 1932
Plane Dumb John Foster and George RufleJune 4, 1932
Redskin BluesJohn Foster and George StallingsJuly 23, 1932
Jolly FishJohn Foster and George StallingsAugust 19, 1932
Barnyard BunkJohn Foster and George RufleSeptember 16, 1932
A Spanish TwistJohn Foster and George StallingsOctober 7, 1932
Piano ToonersJohn Foster and George RufleNovember 11, 1932
Pencil Mania John Foster and George StallingsDecember 9, 1932
Tight Rope TricksJohn Foster and George RufleJanuary 6, 1933
Magic MummyJohn Foster and George StallingsFebruary 3, 1933
Happy HoboesGeorge Stallings and George RufleMarch 31, 1933
Puzzled PalsGeorge Stallings and Frank ShermanMarch 31, 1933
Hook and Ladder Hokum
(also A Fireman's Life and "Fire! Fire!" through Astra TV and Official Films, respectively)
George Stallings and Frank Tashlin (the latter credited as 'Tish Tash')April 28, 1933
In the ParkFrank Sherman and George RufleMay 26, 1933
Dough NutsFrank Sherman and George RufleJuly 7, 1933
The Phantom RocketFrank Sherman and George RufleJuly 28, 1933

Home video availability

Thunderbean Animation released a complete set of the series on DVD in 2010. There is currently a Blu-ray in the works from the same company.

See also

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