SUMMARY: Tom’s attempts to perform a concerto on piano are interrupted by Jerry, who is living inside his piano.
WHY IT’S HERE: Friz Freleng’s ‘Rhapsody Rabbit’ is a good cartoon that will forever live in the shadow of MGM’s Oscar winning Tom and Jerry short ‘The Cat Concerto’. Released the same year and strikingly similar right down to using the same piece of music (Liszt’s second Hungarian Rhapsody), ‘Rhapsody Rabbit’ and ‘The Cat Concerto’ caused a battle between Warner Bros. and MGM in which each studio accused the other of plagiarism. Although it was never resolved with any certainty, it seems far more likely that ‘The Cat Concerto’ came first. The idea of Tom’s concert being sabotaged by Jerry from inside his piano seems perfectly natural but Bugs vs. a completely new mouse character in the same situation reeks of theft! Whatever the true case, ‘The Cat Concerto’ is clearly the superior cartoon and makes ‘Rhapsody Rabbit’ seem like a cheap imitation by comparison. I do enjoy ‘Rhapsody Rabbit’ but more often than not it just makes me yearn to be watching ‘The Cat Concerto’ and this odd relationship I have with ‘Rhapsody Rabbit’ has pretty much overwhelmed any other feelings I might have about the cartoon.
‘The Cat Concerto’ itself is a masterpiece of animation and probably the most acclaimed of the masterful Tom and Jerry series, winning the duo their fourth Academy Award. Beautifully marrying music with image, perfect comedy timing with high-culture accompaniment, it’s testament to the continued ambition of Hanna and Barbera for their star players and stands as one of the greatest cartoons of Hollywood animation’s Golden Age.