337. Blue Cat Blues – William Hanna, Joseph Barbera

song-of-the-prairie

SUMMARY: Jerry recounts the story of why a heartbroken Tom is sitting on the railway tracks bent on suicide.

WHY IT’S HERE: ‘Blue Cat Blues’ has become one of the most legendary Tom and Jerry shorts due to its unexpected darkness. Internet sources tend to overstate this somewhat, even claiming that this was the one Tom and Jerry short with a completely serious storyline. In fact, ‘Blue Cat Blues’ is quite obviously a parody of this sort of melodramatic lost love movie and the gag ratio is high, from Tom’s initial reaction to seeing an attractive lady cat to the games of one-upmanship he gets caught up in with alley cat Butch. The story seems to darken as Tom gives up his love for lost and takes to drinking and despair, but the gags keep coming. His alcoholism is clearly represented by a milk addiction and his drinking to excess is shown by little meters in his eyes which indicate he is ‘Full’. What troubles people most about ‘Blue Cat Blues’, however, is the finale in which Jerry, lamenting that not everyone can have a reliable girlfriend like his, witnesses his own girl drive past with another mouse and, devastated, goes to join Tom sitting on the railway tracks. This, too, is obviously a gag but it is taken to off-colour extremes as the cartoon fades out and the final sound we hear is the train whistle getting louder and louder. It’s a chilling end to a cartoon that is less an experiment in darkness and more a downbeat piece of black comedy that seems somewhat incongruous with the rest of the series but remains a fascinating oddity.

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