Tom and Jerry: The Spotlight Collection, Volume 3 – DVD Review

Available at Amazon.com

Director:
Bill Hanna & Joe Barbera

Cast:
Tom….Cat
Jerry….Mouse
Spike….Dog
Mammy Two Shoes….Maid

Warner Home Entertainment presents Tom and Jerry The Spotlight Collection Volume 3. Screenplays by Bill Hanna & Joe Barbera. Thirty-five cartoons on 2 DVDs lasting 240 minutes. Unrated. DVD released Sept. 11, 2007.

The Movie

Who knew there would be so much trouble in the exploits of a cat and mouse? Since 1940, the Tom and Jerry cartoon series has been perceived as innocent fun that’s perfect for entertaining small kids. The lack of words and fast paced chase action is perfect for mesmerizing a toddler. Unfortunately these cartoons aren’t child-friendly like a Disney toon. The frantic pursuits are ultra violent and there’s race issues that make the Oscar winning animated shorts a touchy subject. Over the years these extreme moments have been snipped to make the cartoons less objectionable for young eyes. Adult fans of Tom and Jerry begged for undiluted action on DVD. They thought their pleas were answered with The Spotlight Collection.

When first announced, this DVD project promised a three volume set that would be chronological, uncut, and complete with all 114 cartoons directed by William Hanna and Joe Barbera. Turns out that none of these things were achieved. Volume 1 got things off on a complete bad foot with animation collectors. Instead of giving us the first 40 Tom and Jerry cartoons, the collection sampled from throughout the two decades of production. This was done to avoid the cartoons involving Mammy Two Shoes, the black maid. A few cartoons had their blackface frames snipped. Volume 2 proved to be equally troublesome. They used alternate audio tracks on several cartoons to tone down Mammy’s voice. They included “Texas Tom” which was already on Volume 1. There seemed to be no attention to detail. After a deluge of complaints, Warner Home Video directly exchanged DVDs of the first two volumes for fans who wanted the cartoons uncensored. Would Volume Three have them get it right on the first try?

Why break with tradition of frustrating fans? Instead of “accidentally” using a censored cartoon, Volume Three skips “Mouse Cleaning” and “Casanova Cat.” The official announcement from Warner Home Video read, “Although this collection is intended for mature audiences and collectors (not for children), Warner Home Video made the decision to omit these two shorts because, regardless of their historical context and artistic value, the offensiveness of certain scenes containing inappropriate racial stereotypes would diminish the enjoyment of the Collection’s 35 other classic cartoons for a large segment of the audience.” At the moment you can find the blacklisted cartoons online. Unlike other Tom and Jerry animated shorts that used black face as a quick reaction gag, these two cartoons have extended routines. “Casanova Cat” has Tom cover Jerry in ash. The blackened mouse performs a minstrel show dance for a female feline. At the end of “Mouse Cleaning,” Tom crawls from a pile of coal and impersonates Stepin Fetchit to escape Mammy’s wrath. The problem about these omissions is that they could have been included in edited form. “His Mouse Friday” was altered during the cannibal scenes. Why couldn’t the DVD producers snip the dance sequence in “Casanova Cat?” The Stepin’ Fetchit ending of “Mouse Cleaning” is included on the Cat and Mouse documentary on the DVD. They could have tucked these cartoons away as Easter Eggs so kids wouldn’t watch them during the “play all” function. Although by calling this the Spotlight Collection, we weren’t promised the complete collection in these three volumes.

One of the pleasures of this collection is the numerous Cinemascope cartoons that have been shown on TV for decades in pan and scan. It’s nice to see the full frame instead of wondering what’s missing on the right and left. Someone fell asleep at quality control. While “A Pup on a Picnic” starts out with the proper 2.35:1 aspect ratio, when the action starts, the screen becomes 1.78:1. Doesn’t anyone pay attention when reviewing the test masters? Do we need to mail cases of Red Bull so the inspectors can keep their eyes open during work hours? They didn’t have this problem with the Cinemascope cartoons on Tex Avery’s Droopy – The Complete Theatrical Collection.

The good news is that they didn’t give us “Texas Tom” for the third time. The cartoons look better than what you’ve been seeing on cable.

Tom and Jerry – Spotlight Collection Volume 3 should have been a moment of rejoicing for animation fanatics instead of another deep groan of disappointment. This isn’t on par with Looney Tunes – Golden Collections for collectors. Maybe in a few months we’ll get word that there will be another direct exchange for DVDs containing the proper versions and perhaps the missing cartoons.

If you have small kids and use the Tom and Jerry DVDs to keep them quiet in the SUV, you’ll be happy with Volume 3.

The Cartoons

Disc 1
“A Mouse in the House,” “Hatch Up Your Troubles,” “Love that Pup,” “Jerry’s Diary,” “Tennis Chumps,” “The Framed Cat,” “His Mouse Friday,” “The Duck Doctor,” “Little Runaway,” “Fit to Be Tied,” “The Dog House,” “That’s My Pup!,” “Life with Tom Puppy Tale,” “Posse Cat,” “Hic-cup Pup,” “Downhearted Duckling,” “Neapolitan Mouse,” “Mouse for Sale,” “Smarty Cat” and “Tops With Pops.”

Disc 2
“Pet Peeve,” “Southbound Duckling,” “Pup on a Picnic,” “That’s My Mommy,” “The Egg and Jerry,” “Busy Buddies,” “Barbecue Brawl,” “Timid Tabby,” “Feedin’ The Kiddie,” “Tom’s Photo Finish,” “Happy Go Ducky,” “Royal Cat Nap,” “The Vanishing Duck,” and “Robin Hoodwinked.”

The DVD

VIDEO:
The transfers vary between 1.33:1 to 2.35:1 anamorphic. The lack of original negatives have kept Tom and Jerry from being restored to the level of the Looney Tunes – Golden Collection, they have cleaned up and brightened the cat and mouse.

AUDIO:
The soundtrack is in mono. There’s also a French mono dub.

EXTRAS:
Cat and Mouse: The Tale of Tom and Jerry (31:41) is a well-produced documentary about the birth and death of MGM’s animation department. Bill Hanna and Joe Barbera explain how they created their cat and mouse cartoon. The studio didn’t have a clue how big Tom and Jerry would become. The experts give a breakdown of the various animators that worked on the cartoon. Scott Bradley gets his due as a composer. They address the issue of the numerous black face gags.

The Karate Guard (8:00) was Joe Barbera’s return to writing and directing a Tom and Jerry cartoon. The cartoon debuted on Sept 27, 2005. Jerry becomes a black belt and Spike transforms a samurai warrior. They lay a Far East beating on Tom and his cat pals. While it doesn’t quite rate up their with his early work, it’s far better than most of the non-Hanna-Barbera Tom and Jerry cartoons.

The DVD Lounge’s Ratings for
Tom and Jerry: The Spotlight Collection Volume 3
CATEGORY
RATING
(OUT OF 10)
THE MOVIE

7
THE VIDEO

8
THE AUDIO

8
THE EXTRAS

7
REPLAY VALUE

7
OVERALL
7
(NOT AN AVERAGE)

The Inside Pulse
You’ll be happy with this final collection of Tom and Jerry if you’re a five year old.