Saturday, February 19, 2011
Poe’s Saturday Cartoon: Trap Happy (1946)
Today when you purchase a collection of classic cartoon shorts on DVD you will find that many come with a disclaimer stating that the violence or ethnic humor in the cartoons may be unsuitable for children. Some adults who grew up watching these shorts as kids may find these disclaimers a bit too PC, others will agree and appreciate the warning. Either way, what these disclaimers can do is give these cartoons an edge that makes it “cool” for adults to watch them again.
No cartoon series from the golden era could be edgier at times than Tom and Jerry. Produced at MGM during the 1940s and 1950s, these Hanna and Barbera directed shorts featured some of the craziest and most violent gags to ever be featured in an animated cartoon. Hanna and Barbera took the simple concept of a cat chasing a mouse and turned it on its ear, producing brilliant cartoon after cartoon for over 15 years. The early shorts in the series were a bit tamer, and it wasn’t until animation great Tex Avery arrived at MGM in 1942 that the series really took off. Avery’s directing style inspired Hanna and Barbera to increase the pace of their cartoons and amp up the violence. The results were some of the funniest cartoons ever made, earning the team six academy award nominations and seven wins over the course of 114 shorts.
Today’s cartoon, Trap Happy, is one of the series most violent. The plot is a standard Tom tries to catch Jerry while in a house setting, this time with the help of series regular: Butch the Cat. Full of incredibly violent gags and a pace that will leave you winded, Trap Happy was made at the series peak. From Hanna and Barbera’s razer sharp timing, to the frenetic score by Scott Bradley (whose scores were so important to these mostly dialog less shorts) Trap Happy is seven minutes of head bashing, toe smashing fun. And yes, we do get the famous “Tom scream” in this one. The scream was actually recorded by Bill Hannah as he provided all of the screams and yelps in the series. Talk about talent.