Theatrically released December 18, 1954.
Director: Joseph Barbera
Story: William Hanna
Music: Scott Bradley
Voices: Jean VanderPyl (Tuffy).
Tuffy (like Jerry, named off-camera by Hanna and Barbera) arrives in the big city of Paris with a letter from his father Francois, expressing his desire that his son become one of the famous pre-Disney Mouseketeers. Jerry, the head Mouseketeer, is skeptical, but agrees to take the tyke in.
However, after hours of fruitless training in chivalry, swordfighting, and sneaking (and several painful stab wounds), Jerry decides Tuffy will never be a Mouseketeer and dismisses him. At the same time, Tom (as the vested Royal Guard) arrives and begins to manhandle Jerry. Tuffy returns to his rescue as only a daring Mouseketeer could, by cutting off the tip of Tom's tail.
A chase ensues, and both parties get the best of each other until finally Tuffy ends it all by releasing a flood of wine that eradicates Tom and saves Jerry. As a reward, Jerry gives Tuffy full Mouseketeer status - but not before a final (apparently non-fatal) stab wound reminds him to keep an eye on the little scamp.
Odds and Ends
- Irven Spence, one of the animators for Hanna-Barbera, originally provided the voice for Tuffy (or Nibbles, as he is sometimes called), but VanderPyl was called in to give him a higher and more childish voice. VanderPyl, of course, became more famous for her role as the voice of Wilma Flintstone (and later, ROSIE the Robot from The Jetsons.)
- Touché, Pussy Cat! was the last Tom and Jerry cartoon to be nominated for an Academy Award. It lost to When Magoo Flew, featuring the popular Mr. Magoo.
- While Tuffy is on the run from Tom, he stops to paint a caricature of the cat on a wall, singing "Frere Jacques" all the while. When Tom appears, Tuffy quickly paints a face on Tom to distract him. The face he draws closely resembles Bill Hanna (presumably on purpose).
One of the best things about Tom and Jerry cartoons was their use of silent comedy pratfalls and antics to sell a story. Exaggerated motions, extreme closeups, and inventive point of views made for some of the most well-known cartoons of all-time. Touché!, on the other hand, offers a talking character in Tuffy to offer comic relief.
Thankfully, Tuffy's idea of speaking is hilarity beyond compare. Each time he whacks off Tom's tail with a playful "Touché, pussy cat!" And his sad cartoon-drunken lament about the "poor pussycat" near the end reminds you that, in the end, this is just a cartoon and the things that happen are funny, no matter how mean they seem. Tom and Jerry themselves provide plenty of comic relief - it's good to see them both on the receiving end of things once in a while.
This short was the second in a trilogy of episodes featuring Tom and Tuffy as Mouseketeers in France. The first, Two Mouseketeers, is chronologically out of order, with Tuffy already being a member of the elite group. The third, Tom and Cherie, put Tuffy in center spotlight as a courier between Jerry and his lover. In all of these, Tuffy's innocence serves as the focal point of charming humor.
Watching this episode on television seems like a travesty: the original was shot in such a wide vision that entire characters are sometimes cut off from the sides of the screen. I hope Hanna-Barbera and Cartoon Network choose to re-release these classic shorts in their original format soon. Until then... touché, pussy cat!