Blue Cat Blues is the 103rd one-reel animated Tom and Jerry short, created in 1956, directed and produced by William Hanna and Joseph Barbera with music by Scott Bradley. The cartoon was animated by Ed Barge, Irven Spence, Lewis Marshall, and Kenneth Muse, with layouts by Richard Bickenbach and backgrounds by Robert Gentle.
Unusually for a Tom and Jerry short, Jerry speaks, narrating the story in voice-over via Paul Frees. Since Jerry narrates through inner monologue, the short does not break the cardinal rule of not having Tom and Jerry physically speaking on screen. Also, unusual for a Tom and Jerry cartoon, while all the others have a comical storyline, this one has a tragic one. Because of this - and Tom and Jerry's implied suicide at the end - this cartoon has rarely been seen on American television, although it has aired once on TNT in the early 1990s and made its rounds on local affiliate channels. However, the short aired for only once on Cartoon Network Southeast Asia in November 2010. As of March 2014, very few airings are known, but it has been shown briefly on Cartoon Network in the USA. This cartoon marks the final appearance of Butch in the Tom and Jerry cartoon produced before the MGM cartoon studio shuts down in 1957. Although, Butch would make another appearance (along with his other alley cat pals Meathead, Topsy, and Lightning) in the Spike and Tyke cartoon Scat Cats before the studio's closure. This cartoon was released on November 16, 1956 by Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer.
A depressed Tom sits on the railroad tracks, apparently bent on suicide-by-train. Watching from a bridge crossing the tracks overhead, Jerry laments his old friend's current state. Jerry knows that, when he gets home, his other friends will ask him why he didn't even try to stop Tom. Jerry believes that "it's better this way", saying that "and for the first time since he met her, he will be happy". Jerry recalls the events leading up to Tom's current state:
- Tom and Jerry were once near-inseparable best friends, but then one day, Tom fell head-over-heels in love with a beautiful white female cat, who, in the beginning at least, seemed to reciprocate Tom's feelings for her. However, the white cat ultimately proved herself to be nothing more than some opportunistic gold-digger, as she wound up leaving Tom for her next-door neighbor: a super-rich black tomcat named Butch.
- Having seen the white cat for what she was and how she'd made a fool of his best friend, Jerry vainly urged Tom to give up and let her and Butch have each other. Ignoring Jerry's warnings, Tom pushed himself and his finances to the limit and beyond, in futile attempts at winning back the white cat's affections—however, because of his vast wealth, Butch was able to get the white cat much larger and more extravagant versions of the gifts that Tom would get for her.
- The first gift Tom presented to the white cat was a single purple flower—but after arriving at her house, Tom discovered that Butch had already given her a large (as in "as big as her") pink-and-red floral wreath with "Love From Butch" written on it in yellow.
- After the flowers, Tom's next gift to the white cat was a single (and small) bottle of perfume, but then an enormous tanker truck full of perfume (spelled "Parfum") drives up to her house (with a "Love From Butch" note attached to it).
- Tom's third gift to the white cat (after squandering his savings) was a diamond ring from a jeweler. However, the diamond on Tom's ring was so small that the white cat had to use a magnifying glass just to get a good look at it. Plus, after presenting the ring, the white cat revealed to Tom that Butch had already given her a diamond ring of his own—however, the diamond on Butch's ring was so big and shiny that you couldn't even look at it without eye protection (Tom and the white cat had to wear welding masks just to look at her ring).
- Tom's final gift for her was a car—one that he literally sold himself slavery for (twenty years of it to be precise), just so that he could cover 312-month (or 26-year) worth of payments at an annual interest rate of 112% (and he literally sells an arm and a leg for it). However, Tom's car was an outdated jalopy that got completely flattened by Butch's much longer, more luxurious coupe when he drives up the white cat's house to pick her up.
- Ultimately, the white cat chose Butch over Tom, once again proving herself to truly be nothing more than an opportunistic gold-digger; this caused the desperate, broken-hearted, and hopelessly in-debt Tom to go downhill fast and start drowning his sorrows in milk (despite Jerry's pleas for him to stop). Tom almost let himself go down the gutter (literally), but Jerry managed to rescue him. While resuscitating Tom, the duo saw Butch and the white cat driving by, but now Butch's car was laden with luggage and had a "Just Married" sign hanging off the back of it.
And now the plot goes back to where the short originally started: Jerry, though still sad for Tom, expresses happiness about how his own girlfriend, Toots (who looks like the mouse version of the white cat), has remained faithful to him. However, Jerry's idyllic world is suddenly shattered when he sees Toots driving by with another mouse (a grey mouse) with a "Just Married" sign hanging off the car, proving herself to be just as unfaithful as the white cat.
Now just as dejected as Tom, Jerry joins his old friend on the railroad tracks. The duo waits for the oncoming train, which draws nearer and nearer. The train's whistle sounds louder as the cartoon fades out, leaving their fates uncertain.
Main article: Blue Cat Blues/Transcript
- The white female cat in this episode looks identical to Tom's girlfriend in Muscle Beach Tom, but all-white with blue eyes and red lipstick instead of all-brown with green eyes and no lipstick.
- This is one of the fifteen cartoons in which Tom and Jerry both lose in the end. The other cartoons are Fraidy Cat, Dog Trouble (After profit from Spike's disposal), The Truce Hurts, Saturday Evening Puss, A Mouse in the House, Advance and Be Mechanized, Baby Puss, Muscle Beach Tom, Filet Meow, Polka-Dot Puss, Baby Butch, Safety Second, Tot Watchers, Down Beat Bear and The Framed Cat.
- This is one of the cartoons where Jerry rescues Tom. He also saves the cat in Cannery Rodent, I'm Just Wild About Jerry, Buddies Thicker Than Water, Puppy Tale and The Cat and the Mermouse.
- This short stands out from others in that rather than having a comedic storyline with an even remotely happy ending, Blue Cat Blues has no real funny moments and has a genuinely dark storyline with a truly tragic ending. This has led some to consider it a particularly dark moment in cartoon history.
- Although it is treated darkly, Downhearted Duckling has more scenes involving suicide attempts than this episode.
- This was the last cartoon to use the ending quotes "An MGM Tom and Jerry Cartoon. Made in Hollywood, U.S.A.". It wouldn't be used again in the Chuck Jones era title cards, starting in the 1963 short, Penthouse Mouse. However, reissues from this point onward would continue to use the "An MGM Tom and Jerry Cartoon. Made in Hollywood, U.S.A." ending quotes.
- Due to the dark nature of the ending, many fans mistook that this is the final episode of the original series.
- It is odd how Butch is shown as rich in this storyline, since throughout the series he has frequently portrayed as stray or alley cat living outdoors, while Tom is able to live in a house with his owners.
- Another uncontroversial but interesting fact in this theory is that in the next episode (Barbecue Brawl), the title card is different. This leaves us thinking about the hypothesis of reversing episodes, that the episode "Tot Watchers" (the last episode, official of the series), is in fact, before the episode The Flying Sorceress (first episode with the green background title card) and that later, until the end, is Blue Cat Blues (last episode with the green background panel). But it is only a hypothesis, there are no official statements of this truth.
- Other facts are that the episode was only a wake-up call to men, compared to women who only like the dirty money and their wealth, since Tom and Jerry was also seen by adults when the shorts happened in theaters.
- Notably on the pan-and-scan version, as both versions no longer being televised on many channels, there is a suggestive reference in one scene where Butch looks at the female cat swinging (couple of seconds before he reached to her) looked like he was staring at her legs (as from her waist up is cropped out).
- The reasons for why this episode is uncertain. There are those who say that it would be William Hanna and Joseph Barbera who lost the production of the series in 1956, but who managed to recover with the success of the short at the box office. Others say that the episode was produced, but that the duo thought that the public would believe that only the characters would hurt themselves (as in all episodes), but that they wouldn't die.
- This was the last MGM cartoon recorded by Western Electric Sound System.
Controversy and Banning
To avoid controversy, Turner Entertainment's channels Cartoon Network and Boomerang rarely airs this episode due to references on alcoholism and suicide. This cartoon has rarely been seen on American television, although it has aired once on TNT in the early 1990s and made its rounds on local affiliate channels. However, the short aired for only once on Cartoon Network Southeast Asia in November 2010. As of March 2014, very few airings are known but it has been shown briefly on Cartoon Network and Boomerang in the USA.
The episode can be seen on DVD and be downloaded on iTunes, even though the episode was banned and had the references of alcoholism and suicide.
The following DVDs and downloadable media have this episode:
- Tom and Jerry's Greatest Chases, Vol. 3
- Tom and Jerry Spotlight Collection Vol. 1, Disc Two
- Tom and Jerry Vol.1
- Tom and Jerry and Friends Vol.1