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the boot

Puss Gets the Boot

Puss Gets the Boot is a one-reel animated cartoon short subject, produced in Technicolor and released to theatres on February 10, 1940 by Metro-Goldwyn Mayer. It was produced by Rudolf Ising and directed by William Hanna and Joseph Barbera, their first collaboration which would last for more than half a century, with musical supervision by Scott Bradley. The cartoon was animated by Carl Urbano, Tony Pabian, Jack Zander, Pete Burness and Bob Allen. The only screen credit on this film was "a Rudolf Ising Production." The short is notable for featuring the first appearances of the characters who would later be christened Tom and Jerry, who would go on to appear in over 110 more short cartoons, seven of which won the Academy Award for Best Short Subject: Cartoons. As such, Puss Gets the Boot gave the animated duo their first Oscar nomination, though the short lost out to another Rudolf Ising MGM cartoon, The Milky Way.

Plot

The camera shows an unnamed mouse attempting to run, but getting nowhere, then zooms out and reveals a smug, superior cat (here named Jasper) holding his tail so that the mouse cannot move. The cat pulls back the mouse's tail, opens his mouth, and releases the mouse such that the mouse will run into his mouth. The mouse spots the trap and brakes in time, and runs toward his mousehole, but Jasper catches him with his tail. The cat tosses the mouse into the air and the mouse lands on the cat's tail, then runs down the cat's body until he has to brake a second time because the cat is again attempting to eat him. The mouse dashes off and the cat waltzes behind him innocently and hops in front of the door and opens his mouth. The mouse runs in, but rolls out of the cat's mouth on his tongue. The cat begins a chase and then sees a better idea: He takes an alternative path around and he will try to fool the mouse. The cat dips his finger in ink, paints a fake mousehole on the wall, and lowers a sign that says "home sweet home". The mouse stops running in order to enter his "hole" and knocks himself out. The cat 'tsk's and revives the mouse with a dash of water.

The mouse recovers and soon notices that something is next to him. He feels the cat's head and grabs an eyelid. The cat opens his eye and hoists the mouse up. The mouse looks into the cat's face and realizes it's the cat. The mouse (reluctantly) punches the cat in the eye. The cat gives chase.

However, the cat runs into a houseplant and breaks it. His mistress, Mammy Two Shoes, a Black maid (voiced by Lillian Randolph) quickly arrives and chastises Jasper.

"Jasper?! Jasper! MMM... that no-good cat!"
Jasper tiptoes away, but is soon under Mammy's broom.
"Just a minute, you good-for-nothin', cheap fur-coat! Now would you just look, just look at that mess you made."
The housemaid gives Jasper an ultimatum: "Now, understand this, Jasper. If you breaks one more thing, you is goin' out - O-W-T [sic], OUT!"
"That's clear, ain't it?"
The mouse throws his fists in the air from a candlestick he is hiding in.
"One more breakin', and you's going out. Now get out of my sight 'fore I gets mad!"
Mammy sweeps Jasper away with her broom.

Jasper creeps away, but soon runs into a table. The cat sees a vase falling from it and rushes over to save it. He sighs with relief and soon spots the mouse laughing at him. Jasper crawls over the floor in anger. The mouse gets out of the candlestick as Jasper runs up onto the table and forces the cat to back off or else he will throw a wineglass to the floor. Jasper retreats as he sees Mammy prancing around the house with the swept-up mess and hears her:

"Anymore breakin' and that cat's goin' outta here."

The mouse nods his head, sets down the glass and claps his hands together. Jasper sees the mouse letting down his guard and tries again to catch the mouse, but the mouse again threatens him. The mouse then whacks the cat with the wineglass and gets Jasper to back off again. The mouse decides to toy with the cat, winks at the camera and throws the glass down. Jasper hears whistling and sees the mouse, sans glass, pointing towards the ground. Jasper panics and dashes at the glass, narrowly saving it. The mouse throws down a second glass, followed by the tray and four more glasses which Jasper catches on the tray. Jasper then gets hit on the head with a decorated plate of flowers thrown by the mouse. Jasper sees the mouse taunting him with one more glass in his hand, and Jasper attempts to throw the plate to the ground, but realizes this would probably break it and punishes himself. Jasper then spots pillows of all sorts on a nearby couch.

As the mouse is strolling along the table, Jasper pops his head up next to the mouse. The mouse hangs the threat of throwing the wineglass down over the cat's head, but Tom appears dreamy and indifferent. The mouse then twists his tail (the only signal he can make with a glass in his hand) at the cat as if to say, "Have it your way", then he throws the glass to the floor in total arrogance. Not hearing the crash he expected, the mouse looks down to the ground and sees that the glass fell on one of the pillows.

Jasper grins and the mouse tries to run away, but Jasper slaps his tail. The mouse says a quick prayer:

"Now I lay me down to sleep."
"I pray the Lord my soul to keep."
"If I should die before I wake,"
"I hope and hope my soul he'll take."
"Amen."

and Jasper lets him go, only to catch him with his tail again. Jasper tosses the mouse into the air and opens his mouth expecting to eat the mouse when he falls back down. The mouse has been thrown up to the china rack and drops a plate down onto Jasper instead of himself. Jasper is momentarily stunned. The mouse proceeds to run across the shelf of plates and knocks every one of them down. Jasper sweats increasingly more as he lugs around the stack of plates, then finally manages to slant it against the wall. Jasper is briefly safe, but he soon spots the mouse waving at him from the top of the stack. Jasper can only watch in terror as the mouse throws one more plate down to the ground and it breaks.

Mammy hears it from upstairs and storms down the steps and says,

"Jasper? Jasper! Man, you is practically out now!"

proclaiming that she will evict the cat as soon as she gets down. To multiply Jasper humiliation, the mouse leaps in triumph, then runs down the stack of plates, stomps on Jasper's nose, rolls the cat's eyelids, squirts Jasper's milk on Jasper's back, and even cleans himself with Jasper's tail. The mouse spots Mammy approaching with broom in hand and knows he must get the job done soon or else he will be seen. The mouse kicks the cat in the rear which causes him to drop all the crockery and framing him.

The mouse flees the scene and dives into his hole just before Mammy squashes him with her foot. Jasper is heard to meow in pain. Jasper is dragged across the floor by Mammy, who repeats her warning:

"MMM... And when I says out, Jasper, I means OUT! O-U-W-T [sic] OUT!"

and Jasper is thrown out of the house. The triumphant mouse watches and then spots the "home sweet home" sign. The mouse posts the sign by his real mousehole and nods in confidence that this is the real one as he marches in.

Release and reaction

Though Puss Gets the Boot was popular on its initial release, no follow-up cartoons were originally scheduled. MGM saw Puss Gets the Boot as a "flash in the pan", and assigned Hanna and Barbera to several musical cartoons. Not entirely satisfied with their new output, Hanna and Barbera decided to get started on another Tom and Jerry short.

A studio-wide contest took place to christen the cat and mouse with names; the winning combination of Tom and Jerry was suggested by animator John Carr. However, despite coming up with a new name for the cat and mouse team, Hanna and Barbera were rejected from making another Tom and Jerry cartoon. MGM's animation department head, Fred Quimby, had assumed there were already enough cat and mouse cartoons in existence, and therefore Tom and Jerry could not possibly bring anything new.

Besa Short, a manager of the Loew's theater chain in Dallas, Texas, sent MGM a letter enquiring as to whether new cat and mouse cartoons would be made, after thoroughly enjoying Puss Gets the Boot. At the same time, the cartoon had been given an Academy Award nomination, strengthening Hanna and Barbera's request to create another cartoon. From there, Hanna and Barbera were given permission to create two new Tom and Jerry shorts, and in 1941, The Midnight Snack and The Night Before Christmas were created, with the later cartoon getting another Academy Award nomination.

Censorship

  • Versions of this cartoon that aired on Cartoon Network had Mammy's voice redubbed (and the redubbed voice spells, "Out" correctly rather than incorrectly).

Trivia

  • At over nine minutes in length, this is the longest Tom and Jerry short released, the shortest is Purr-Chance to Dream.
  • Only this cartoon has no copyright indication in the series, therefore this cartoon is in public domain.
  • Jerry's original name was Jinx. Although this is never mentioned in the short.
  • Instead of Tom being called Tom, he was named Jasper in this cartoon.
  • First appearance of Tom Cat, Jerry Mouse and Mammy Two Shoes.

External links

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