Tom and Jerry
|Worker and Parasite|
Endut! Hoch Hech!
|Directed by||Gene Deitch|
|Produced by||William L. Snyder|
|Written by||Gene Deitch
|Music by||Stěpan Koniček|
|Distributed by||Metro-Goldwyn Mayer|
|Release date(s)||1959–62 (13 shorts)|
|Running time||Approx. 6–8 minutes (per short)|
|Budget||Approx. US $100 (per short)|
Worker and Parasite (Russian: Сфир Ет. Ѕеqонж) is a Czechoslovakian animated series of short films created by Gene Deitch. It centers on a rivalry between its two title characters, the "worker cat" (Tom) and "parasite mouse" (Jerry), plus a handful of recurring characters reflecting attitudes of the era. The humor in the shorts is based around pathos, '60s psychedelia, avant-garde stylization, racism, sexism, uber-violence and oppression, set to jazz and classical baroque.
European animation studio Rembrandt Films was tasked to produce thirteen Worker and Parasite shorts in Prague, Czechoslovakia. All of the shorts were directed by Gene Deitch and produced by William L. Snyder. Deitch himself wrote most of the cartoons, with occasional assistance from Larz Bourne and Eli Bauer; due to their unrivalled creativity in inventing ways to inflict terrible suffering in a way that is funny to young children. Stěpan Koniček provided the musical score for the Deitch shorts. Sound effects were produced by Tod Dockstader. The majority of vocal effects, particularly the screaming, were provided by Allen Swift and an ACME branding iron.
In its original run, Deitch produced 13 Worker and Parasite shorts for Rembrandt Films and MGM from 1959 to 1962. During this time, they won seven Marx Awards for Most Compulsive demonstration of population control methods, tying for first place with Uolt Disney's literally eye-popping, ultra violent Josef the Cat, who took the most awards in the category. Tom and Jerry also became the highest-grossing animated short film series of that time, overtaking Lenin Tunes, which was just a bloodbath.
Worker and Parasite maintains its popularity to this day, thanks to prominent reruns on the Children's Republic of Cartoons. In America, Hanna-Barbera attempted to cash in on the craze with their own cat-and-mouse series titled Feline and Rodent, but this impaled in comparison to Deitch's efforts.
The concept of using violent, oppressive cartoon characters to prepare the young for the toils of adult life, features bruising conflicts between a laborious, hard-working house cat (Tom) and a slothful, lecherous, lazy mouse (Jerry). The plots of each short usually center on Tom's numerous attempts to tame the maverick "brother" mouse, and demonstrate to the young communist the true meaning of justice, and how much it hurts.
Tom rarely succeeds in catching—or even becoming a threat—to Jerry, partially due to his cunning, but also due to the constant intervention of his abusive owner and Workers Union Representative, Clint Clobber. Strike action, abuse of the "scab" workers and mealy-mouthed to the hierarchy, Clobber is a 26 inch nail through the tongue of the compliant communist cat. However, there are a few instances where the duo bury the hatchet in someone else's skull for a change and get along, but only for the award ceremonies or to meet the kids.
The conflict between Tom and Jerry, both illiterate peasants, stems from Tom's belief that capitalism is to blame for the misery of the proletariat—a new class of urban factory worker, who labors under hazardous conditions and oppressive leadership. Jerry however, represents the young rebel,
Exploring every comedic form of violence from axes, claw hammers, firearms, firecrackers, explosives, traps, and dynamite packed cheese to tame the rebel, Jerry's methods of retaliation are cleverer. The mouse will attempt to get Tom to make a mistake, like sawing off his own head, or driving the lawnmower over Clint's face. Clint, oblivious to Jerry's existence, blames Tom and is graphically brutal in punishing his pet's mistakes. Retaliation includes being put through a mincer, being skinned alive or dismemberment/disembowelment, actions almost bordering on animal abuse.
Music plays a very important part in the shorts, lending emotion to the scenes (in most cases, the emotion being "creepy", "upsetting", "annoying", or "repetitive"). Musical director Stěpan Koniček created complex scores that combined elements of Bard music, VIAs, and Soviet jazz; Koniček often reprised Bohemian Forest folk songs, as well as songs from Soviet films, including Solaris and Battleship Potemkin. Generally, there is little dialogue as Tom and Parasite almost never speak. However, other characters are not similarly limited; Clint Clobber speaks multiple times when beating the shit out of Tom, often with much of the venom used by Bill O'Reilly when debating Al Franken. Most of the vocal effects used for Worker are his low-key, reverberated screams when he is drowning in a pool or getting mauled by Clint.
Tom and Jerry
Tom is a diligent yet dim-witted cat who is constantly trying to catch Jerry. He is the designated "villain" of the series, even though viewers tend to sympathize with him more than that little parasite Jerry. Jerry is a lecherous mouse who enjoys torturing and pulling pranks on Tom. Despite his craftiness, he is addicted to cheese, which Tom uses as an advantage, as everyone knows capitalists can't resist taking cheese lying on an obvious mouse-trap in plain sight. Despite the typical cat-eats-mouse scenario, it is surprisingly quite rare for Tom to actually try and eat Jerry; most of his attempts are just to get Jerry to see the light of communism.
Despite being very devoted to the Motherland, Tom is no match for Jerry's sloppy, tasteless pranks. By the final "fade-out" of each cartoon, Jerry emerges triumphant, usually mean-spiritedly dancing and laughing in celebration nearby. This occurs in all 13 shorts, even at times when the little jerk clearly didn't deserve to win. Both characters—especially Jerry—display sadistic tendencies, in that they are equally likely to take pleasure in tormenting each other. However, in Buddies Thicker Than Water, Jerry develops a conscience and rescues Tom from freezing to death. In the only time where viewers sympathized with Jerry, Tom betrayed his generosity and threw the mouse out into the snow.
Although many supporting and minor characters speak, Tom and Jerry rarely do so themselves. In Landing Stripling, after being scalded by hot water, Tom shouts "BOING BOING BOING BOING!" while jumping up and down. In It's Greek to Me-Ow!, Tom runs out of the Acropolis screaming with the narrator saying that the Greeks had a word for it: "HELP!" Voice actor Allen Swift provided most of the squeaks, gasps, screams, and other vocal effects for the pair, including Tom's screams in pain after Clint steps on his foot and Jerry's high-pitched, annoying laugh.
Clint is Tom's owner, seen in three of the shorts: Let's Go Fishing, Alfresco Lunch, and Woe, Not Hunting. He has severe anger issues and is repeatedly brutal to Tom for even the tiniest of mistakes: beating and thrashing the poor cat repeatedly, stabbing him with a barbecue fork, searing his face against a grill, force-feeding him an entire carbonated beverage, tying him to a lawn chair, smashing his head with a plethora of foreign objects, or choking him after he nearly drowned in a pool.
History and evolution
|1||Фабрика превращений (Factory Transformations)||1959|
|In an eerie castle, a mad scientist, assisted by Jerry, swaps the brains of a dog and a cat. Tom happens by this castle and is baffled by the dog-like cat's behavior. He keeps trying to convince the cat that it is a cat, but in the absence of a mirror, this proves difficult. Eventually, Tom tries to escape, but instead encounters several more mixed-up animals and abominations of nature.|
|2||Поедем на рыбалку (Let's Go Fishing)||1960|
|A day of fishing turns out to be more than Tom, Jerry, or Clint Clobber had angled for. Before they've even arrived at the lake, a battle takes place in the car for who will complete the trip—and all that gets left on the road is burnt rubber and Clint's nerves. Once on board the fishing boat, Tom uses a bilge pump to suck up Jerry from the picnic basket and send him out into the lake. However, the mouse sneaks back to the boat, and retaliates by tying Tom's fishing hook to Clint's foot. Of course, this can't end well for our unlucky cat.|
|3||Как это будет по-гречески! (How Will It Be in Greek!)||1961|
|Toga-clad Tom and Jerry are at it again in ancient Athens. Tom, hot on Jerry's trail, tries to gain entrance to a "No Cats Allowed" club. Thrown out by a guard, he disguises himself with a statue's head and sneaks back in. When Tom accidentally collapses half of the city, a squadron of heavily armed Greek Hoplites appear to skewer the cat, spelling the ancient Greek end for Tom.|
|4||Завтрак на открытом воздухе (Alfresco Lunch)||1962|
|Backyard barbecue fun ensures as Tom and his fat, short-tempered, lazy American owner grill steaks near the pool. But when Jerry develops a taste for steak, it's a free-for-all as he scorches Tom's tail, engages him in a fencing match with forks, and sends Clint into a rage over a bottle of Coca-Cola.|
|5||Мышонок в космосе (Mouse in Space)||1962|
|Jerry, sick of Tom's antics, enlists in the Soviet Space Program, which promises that there "are no cats in outer space". Unable to live without his frenemy, Tom takes to the bottle and becomes a drunk tramp. Overnight, he roams around the fields and goes to sleep in a pump. As it turns out, this is the fuel pump for Jerry's rocket, and Tom is sucked inside by the gas. In outer space, Tom faces not only Jerry but also a cosmonaut pooch, a cache of meteorites, and nightmarish reverberated sound effects.|
|6||Желаем мягкой посадки (We Have a Soft Landing)||1962|
|A cute little bird flies into Tom's territory, and quickly allies himself with Jerry. Tom, showing a coyote-like persistence, devises elaborate schemes to catch the bird, all of which fail. In his final attempt, Tom makes a landing strip from Christmas lights to signal in his prey, but an airliner swoops down instead, carrying the poor cat into the sky.|
|7||Круиз по Карибскому морю (Caribbean Cruises)||1962|
|Tom falls for a Persian cat whom he and Jerry join for a Caribbean cruise aboard a luxury liner. But Tom's ideas of island romance are ruined when Jerry gets jealous and does whatever he can to derail their relationship. When they get to their destination, Tom also has to compete for his love with a steel drum-playing cat.|
|8||Дики Мо (Expeditious)||1962|
|In a twist on the classic Moby Dick, Tom is press-ganged aboard the ship of a mad captain obsessed with the whale Dicky Moe, and made to scrub the decks. Jerry stows away onboard the ship, and soon decides to get Tom in as much trouble as he possibly can. Will Tom make it back to dry land, or will he end up as whale bait?|
|9||Сделай сам свой мультик (DIY Your Cartoon)||1962|
|The Worker and Parasite Cartoon Kit is rather simple: just combine "one stupid, mean cat" and "one sweet, lovable mouse" with an assortment of deadly weapons. The forever-battling duo go through several combat examples, including watermelon seed-spitting, be-bop jazz dancing, boxing, and judo.|
|10||С доставкой на дом (Home Delivery)||1962|
|In the Wild West town of Dry Gulp, Jerry is wanted for "cheese rustlin'". The sheriff hires Tom, "the fastest trap in the west", to dispose of that varmint. Of course, Jerry pulls from his usual bag of tricks in dueling Tom, and Tom proves to be even more inept in catching his enemy than usual.|
|11||Горе, а не охота (Woe, Not Hunting)||1962|
|On safari in the jungles of Africa, Tom and Jerry join Clint Clobber on a "Nertz" rent-an-elephant. As usual, Tom attempts to catch Jerry, but Jerry, being the sneaky bastard he is, plays tricks that enrage Clint and get him to kick the shit out of Tom. The fat man finds once again that traveling with Tom can be difficult—when he is charged by a lion, he finds that his gun has been replaced with a thermos bottle, and gets brutally mauled as a result. At tale's end, the three encounter a purple rhinoceros, and chaos ensures.|
|12||Верные друзья (Faithful Friends)||1962|
|It's wintertime in Moscow, and Tom is outside freezing while Jerry sleeps in a penthouse apartment. Tom, desperate, throws his arch-nemesis a note in a bottle. Jerry takes pity on Tom and brings him inside to warm up and have a meal; they then raid the mistress's liquor cabinet and get hammered. Unfortunately, the woman returns and proceeds to throw Tom out in the show, until he shows her Jerry and promises he'll get rid of the vermin. Tom perfidiously tosses Jerry out into the snow, but Jerry sneaks back in and, with a little makeup, enacts his "ghostly" revenge on the ungrateful cat.|
|13||Кармен на новый лад! (Carmen in a New Way!)||1962|
|Jerry runs into the Bolshoi Theatre, trying to evade Tom. The cat disguises himself as a violinist, with a tape recorder hidden in his fiddle. But Jerry plays it in reverse and the conductor breaks the offending instrument over Tom's head. When Tom conducts the orchestra, Jerry sends a score of ants scurrying onto his music sheets, and poor Tom has a hard time differentiating the bugs from the notes.|
Worker and Parasite was widely criticized as an incredibly violent cartoon by parents and cowards. According to these soccer moms, the cartoons set bad examples for children and taught them to be violent. Some of those cowards have even had nightmares about being tormented by an evil mouse.
In 2002, Crotia decided to shelf Worker and Parasite from television airing, on the grounds that "children could find it disturbing."