Mouse Cleaning is a 1948 animated short subject, starring Tom and Jerry. The 38th entry overall, it was produced in Technicolor and released to theaters on December 11, 1948 by Metro-Goldwyn Mayer. It was animated by Ray Patterson, Irven Spence, Kenneth Muse and Ed Barge, who were the usual animators for the Tom and Jerry cartoons in the early 1940s up until the late 1950s. As per most Tom and Jerry cartoons, it was directed by William Hanna and Joseph Barbera, and produced by Fred Quimby. The music was scored by Scott Bradley and the backgrounds were by Robert Gentle.
- Tom Cat (main protagonist)
- Jerry Mouse (main antagonist)
- Mammy Two Shoes
- Donkey (secondary antagonist)
The cartoon opens with Mammy Two Shoes mopping the kitchen floor. Right after she finishes, she is happy to have cleaned the entire house and hopes that it will remain clean ("That's that. The whole house is clean. And brother, it better stay that way."); unfortunately, it doesn't, as the camera cuts to Tom chasing Jerry outside, rounding a corner too wide and through a mud puddle, and then continuing the chase into the house. He runs into Mammy and she hits him with the mop, chastises him for making such a huge mess ("Hold on there, you no-good cat! Just look what you've done to my clean floor!") and forces him to mop the floor ("Get up here! Take this mop! Now, start cleaning!). As Tom finishes, Mammy goes out for shopping. She warns Tom: And furthermore, if I find one spot of dirt in this house when I get back, we is gonna be minus one cat around here. Understand?
Tom nods his head in fright and Jerry, hiding behind a broom, also nods his head, ready as usual to take stock of the situation to sabotage Tom's efforts. After Mammy closes the door ("Well, get on with that cleaning."), Tom sticks his tongue out at her and makes a face, but she opens the door and points her finger at Tom, saying And keep it clean! Tom then nods again and kisses her finger, smiling politely, and satisfied, the maid leaves. For the rest of the cartoon, the mouse takes advantage of this conditional to torment the cat.
Tom finishes the remainder of the cleaning, and relieved, Tom wipes the sweat off his forehead, but immediately has to clean this up in addition. A fly buzzes through the room and leaves dirt behind on one of the windows, so he has to wipe the window down to boot. Jerry busts in on the fun by scooping ashes from an ashtray onto the floor. Tom quickly grabs a broom and dustpan and cleans up the mess, but no sooner has he finished than the rodent is on the floor, holding the ashtray like a parade drum, and tripping the switch to dump more ashes onto the ground. Fed up, Tom forgetfully hurls a tomato at him, and Jerry ducks as the tomato splatters into the wall, creating an even bigger mess for Tom to clean.
In apoplexy, the cat collects a bucket and starts to clean the wall, but as usual, he does not concentrate on the bucket and fails to spot Jerry ejecting blue ink from an ink pen into the bucket. Midway through cleaning up the tomato, Tom has created an identically sized mess of blue ink on the wall, and he realizes what has happened when he becomes aware that the water and towel are blue. In absolute dread, the cat covers his eyes and slowly peeks at his new mess, and then lifts his hand; his eyes and mouth exaggeratedly pop out.
Soon he sees Jerry holding the ink pen, and he starts a new chase in complete rage, which quickly stops when the mouse threatens to squirt ink over the drapes. Smirking, he carries out this threat, but no ink escapes; apparently, the pen is empty. The cat, delighted, steals the pen and accidentally empties it onto the drapes. In horror, he grabs the drapes and runs them through the washing machine, the wringer, and the iron. Exhausted, the cat replaces the drapes and breathes out hoarsely.
No sooner does this happen than Jerry has returned to his sabotage; this time, he juggles six eggs while walking a tightrope, forcing the cat to protect him in case he falls and, eventually, to catch the eggs when Jerry flings them across the room. In addition to juggling, Tom is forced to catch a cream pie on a fork using only his head, barely standing up. As the coup de grace, Jerry pulls the rug from under Tom, and although the cat recovers in time to snatch the egg carton and catch every egg in it, he forgets about the pie, which splatters onto his face.
Having been humiliated again, Tom searches for Jerry, but shortly the mouse opens the front door for an old donkey to walk into the house. Tom scares Jerry back out of the house as he quickly grabs the donkey and throws him out, and while his enemy is occupied with this, Jerry takes the opportunity to unknowingly re-enter the house through an electrical outlet marked Emergency Entrance, ready for another scheme. Tom goes to sleep, apparently rid of all threats.
Meanwhile, Jerry pushes a stamp ink pad onto Tom's paws, and when the cat wakes up, he shuts the pad on Tom's nose before the cat can process what he sees; accordingly, Tom forgets about the stamp pad and chases the mouse. Jerry leads Tom on an off-screen chase through the entire house, and when the duo finally pulls back into view, Jerry stops the chase and alerts the cat of the gigantic mess of paw prints he must now clean up. Looking at his ink-covered paws, Tom makes the connection and picks up the mouse, hurls him down the laundry chute, and races to clean the house before Mammy returns.
Meanwhile, a truck full of coal has come to the house to make a delivery; Jerry grabs a rope and ties it to the delivery chute. On the verge of finishing the sanitizing job, Tom sees a silhouette of Mammy coming up the sidewalk; he hurriedly finishes, then stows the cleaning supplies behind the couch and sits down hopefully, ready for Mammy's return. Jerry pulls the delivery chute up to the living room such that the entire shipment of coal barges into the house, knocking Tom down and then Mammy when she opens the front door. As soon as she digs her head out from the coal, she begins threatening to throttle Tom ("Boy! When I get a hold of that lowdown, good-for-nothing..."), despite the utter impossibility of Tom's cause for this new mess. Just then, Tom emerges in blackface.
Thinking that he is a black man with information on Tom, Mammy asks him: "Hey you! Has you seen a no good cat around here?!" Tom, knowing that he is in trouble now, responds (via Stepin Fetchit's voice): "No ma'am. I ain't seen no cat around here. Uh-uh. There ain't no cat, no place, no how, no ma'am." Tom, meanwhile, walks away from the coal pile, but only his head is blackened, so his disguise does not fool the maid. As she begins to pelt coal angrily at Tom ("Thomas! Come back here!"), he taunts her and tries to run away, but Mammy throws a large dive bomb into the distance and it ends up hitting Tom square on the head, knocking him out in an identical fashion to Tee for Two as the cartoon ends.
- Lillian Randolph as Mammy Two Shoes (1948 original version)
- Thea Vidale as Mammy Two Shoes (1990 dubbed version)
- Stepin Fetchit as Tom Cat (uncensored version)
Censorship and Bans
- The scene where Tom comes out of the coal with a blackface telling Mammy Two Shoes that he hadn't seen no cat around here was omitted from TV airings in the US, though a 1960s redrawn version of this cartoon exists where the scenes of Tom emerging from the coal and trying to slink away were redone so that way Tom doesn't look like he's in blackface or act like Stepin Fetchit.
- This short has been banned from being released on DVD in the United States by Warner Home Video, such as the third Spotlight Collection. When it was announced that neither this short nor Casanova Cat would be on the then-upcoming Tom and Jerry Golden Collection: Volume 2, the negative reception prompted Warner Home Video to shelve the set indefinitely.
- The version shown in Wales cuts the part where Jerry brings in an old donkey.