“Tom and Jerry: The Chuck Jones Collection”
In between his iconic Looney Tunes work and his beloved TV adaptation of “Dr. Seuss’ How the Grinch Stole Christmas,” Chuck Jones got in on the antics of cute and cunning mouse Jerry and his perpetual pursuer, the prickly housecat Tom. “Tom and Jerry: The Chuck Jones Collection” remasters and packages all 34 theatrical shorts the animation luminary contributed to the cartoon pair’s never-ending chase.
The shorts in this collection are not from Tom and Jerry’s heyday; the cat-and-mouse escapades won seven Oscars in the 1940s and ’50s for creators William Hanna and Joseph Barbera. In 1957, MGM closed its animation unit, but resumed production of Tom and Jerry shorts in 1963 under Jones (whose previous employer, Warner Bros., had shut down its animation shop in ’62).
Famed for his work on characters such as Pepe le Pew, Bugs Bunny and Daffy Duck, Jones brought his trademark sly facial expressions and wacky humor to Tom and Jerry. Sometimes the similarities are a bit too obvious: Many of his Tom and Jerry shorts seem lifted directly from his Wile E. Coyote and Road Runner tales. and one copies the storyline of an earlier Jones cartoon featuring his mice characters Hubie and Bertie and Claude the Cat.
The best shorts in the collection are the ones Jones directed, produced and co-wrote with former Looney Tunes scribe Mike Maltese.
But Jones apparently lost interest in Tom and Jerry before his tenure with them ended in 1967; some of the later shorts lack his sharp wit. (He released his Oscar-winning short “The Dot and the Line” in 1965 and “The Grinch” in ’66, so Jones clearly was working on other projects at the time.)
Still, Jones fans will appreciate seeing his take on Tom and Jerry.
DVD extras: An engaging Jones biography, which tellingly doesn’t mention Tom and Jerry, and a documentary the animation giant’s history with the cartoon cat and mouse.