380. The Tom and Jerry Cartoon Kit – Gene Deitch


SUMMARY: A narrator introduces us to the Tom and Jerry Cartoon Kit, with which anyone can create their own Tom and Jerry cartoon.

WHY IT’S HERE: When the classic Hanna-Barbera series of Tom and Jerry shorts ended, MGM made the decision several years later to resurrect the characters but every effort was made to cut costs. Ultimately, the job was given to Gene Deitch, the talented director of Oscar winning short ‘Munro’. However, Deitch did not want the job, he only took it because he was under pressure to do so and didn’t want to harm his career. Ultimately, the possibility of recreating the Tom and Jerry magic was killed by numerous factors. Not only did Deitch dislike the series, calling it excessively violent and racist, but he was also scuppered by extremely low budgets, an isolated Prague location and a team of animators completely unfamiliar with Tom and Jerry. The results are horrible. Creepy, nightmarish and often violent in a brutal rather than cartoonishly harmless way (check out Tom’s mean owner in films like ‘Barbeque Brawl’ and ‘Sorry Safari’. If there is one Deitch Tom and Jerry cartoon worth seeing for more than just historical interest, it is ‘The Tom and Jerry Cartoon Kit’. Based around a commercial advertisement for a kit that allows you to make your own Tom and Jerry cartoons (Bob Godfrey’s ‘Do-It-Yourself Cartoon Kit’ immediately leaps to mind), ‘The Tom and Jerry Cartoon Kit’ deconstructs the series and takes pot-shots at what Deitch deemed its formulaic structure and throwaway nature. Due to critical and commercial failure, coupled with Deitch’s own misgivings, this series of Tom and Jerrys mercifully ended after only 13 cartoons. ‘The Tom and Jerry Cartoon Kit’ is a fascinating artefact from this time, brining the series more into line with Deitch’s own style and enduring as a fascinating example of a director attacking his own work.


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