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The Cat Concerto

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Title: The Cat Concerto  
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Subject: Part Time Pal, Eric Goldberg (animator), Academy Award for Best Animated Short Film, Lang Lang (pianist), Squatter's Rights (film)
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The Cat Concerto

The Cat Concerto
Tom and Jerry series
Directed by William Hanna
Joseph Barbera
Produced by Fred Quimby
Story by William Hanna (unc.)
Joseph Barbera (unc.)
Music by Scott Bradley
Franz Liszt
Animation by Kenneth Muse
Ed Barge
Irven Spence
Richard Bickenbach (uncredited)
Distributed by Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer
Release date(s) April 26, 1947
Color process Technicolor
Running time 7:32
Language English
Preceded by Part Time Pal
Followed by Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Mouse

The Cat Concerto is a 1947 American one-reel animated cartoon and is the 29th Tom and Jerry short, produced in 1946 and released to theatres on April 26, 1947 and reissued for a re-release in 1955 by Metro-Goldwyn Mayer. It was produced by Fred Quimby and directed by William Hanna and Joseph Barbera, with musical supervision by Scott Bradley, and animation by Kenneth Muse, Ed Barge and Irven Spence. It won the 1946 Academy Award for Best Short Subject: Cartoons. In 1994 it was voted #42 of the 50 Greatest Cartoons of all time by members of the animation field. The short won the duo their fourth consecutive Academy Award for Best Animated Short Film.


A stage is set in an auditorium. In a formal concert, Tom, a piano virtuoso, is giving a piano recital of "Hungarian Rhapsody No. 2" by Franz Liszt. Jerry, who is sleeping inside the piano, is rudely awakened by the hammers, then sits on top of the piano to mock the cat by "conducting" him. Tom flicks Jerry off the piano. Tom continues playing without any interruptions.

Jerry arises from under one of the keys. Tom plays tremolo on this key, knocking Jerry on the head, and then Jerry runs back and forth underneath. Tom smashes the mouse under the keys, plays the main theme of the rhapsody, and when Tom lifts his two fingers from playing a trill, the piano continues playing. He looks over the edge of the piano and spots Jerry playing the felts from inside. To quiet him, he whacks Jerry with a tuning tool. Jerry retaliates by slamming the piano lid onto Tom's fingers. Tom still plays, and then Jerry pops out on the far right of the piano to attempt to cut Tom's finger with a pair of scissors as he plays a note from the very highest minor third of the piano. After the sixth miss, Jerry pants from this effort, and then substitutes a mousetrap for the white keys just below it. Tom plays the keys on either side for a few seconds but eventually, Tom's finger gets caught in the trap.

Jerry prances up and down on the piano, upon which Tom climbs and proceeds to play with his feet. As Tom gets back down to play with his fingers, Jerry dances around on the felts, momentarily changing the tune from the rhapsody to "On the Atchison, Topeka and the Santa Fe". Tom then plays a chord where the mouse is standing repeatedly, receiving increasingly rude gestures in return, and eventually catches the mouse and stows him into the piano stool. Jerry then crawls out of an opening and manipulates the seat's controls, cranking it up, and sending it crashing down.

Tom stuffs Jerry into the felts and then goes crazy on the piano, as if to say, "You're going to get it, mister!" The felts take on a life of their own, bashing Jerry about, spanking him, and squashing him to and fro. Eventually, Jerry gets squashed and comes out, very angry about this, and then breaks off some felts as his sticks and plays the finale of the rhapsody in one last retaliation. Jerry constantly increases the speed of his playing, plays two false endings, and generally taunts him, such that Tom is left with raggedy clothes and collapses at the end of the tune. The audience then applauds for the performance, but instead of TOm receiving the praise, Jerry pretends to take it for himself bowing to the audience.


The same year MGM produced The Cat Concerto, Warner Bros. released a very similar Bugs Bunny cartoon called Rhapsody Rabbit, directed by Friz Freleng, with Bugs against an unnamed mouse. Both shorts used near identical gags, and they even used the same piece by Franz Liszt. Even the ending is similar. Both MGM and Warner Bros. accused each other of plagiarism, after both films were shown during the 1947 Academy Awards ceremony. Technicolor was accused of sending a print of either cartoon to the competing studio, who then allegedly plagiarized their rival's work. By pure co-incidence, as of 1997 both shorts are under ownership of Turner Entertainment and Warner Bros. (Both were part of the pre-1986 MGM library, and Rhapsody Rabbit being part of it via sales to a.a.p. and its successor companies).




References and external links

  • The Cat Concerto, a section of Nicola Watts' "Cartoons and Music" 1997 Multimedia Analysis and Design project at the Humanities Advanced Technology and Information Institute (HATII) at the University of Glasgow.
  • Peter Gimpel, son of Jakob Gimpel explaining his view of the controversy
  • The Cat Concerto at the Big Cartoon DataBase
  • The Cat Concerto at the Internet Movie Database
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