186. Mouse in Manhattan – William Hanna, Joseph Barbera

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SUMMARY: Tired of country life, Jerry writes Tom a goodbye note and heads off for the bright lights of Manhattan… but it prove to be a tougher city than he expected.

WHY IT’S HERE: Of all the experiments Hanna and Barbera made in this era of Tom and Jerry shorts, ‘Mouse in Manhattan’ is probably the most audacious. After all, Tom and Jerry were a duo and audiences expected to always see them together. So the idea of making a solo Jerry cartoon in which Tom makes only a cameo was a bold move indeed. Luckily, it works beautifully, although the absence of Tom in favour of an entire city as Jerry’s opponent is perhaps the reason this exquisite short remains underrated. Throughout its runtime ‘Mouse in Manhattan aspires to Disney realism, offering us a beautiful depiction of New York at night. One would expect Jerry to be an insipid character without Tom to play off but he proves more than affable company throughout. But it is the sparkling visuals that are the real star of ‘Mouse in Manhattan’, and it emerges as one of the most immersive of cartoons I can think of. When Jerry returns to Tom at the end we are still relieved to see the pair reunited and there is no desire to see any more solo Jerry outings, but that is because ‘Mouse in Manhattan’ nailed it first time out and there is no need to attempt to improve on such a wonderful cartoon.

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