The Zoot Cat (also referred to as simply Zoot Cat) is a 1944 American one-reel animated cartoon and is the 13th Tom and Jerry short. It was produced in Technicolor and released to theatres on February 26, 1944 by Metro-Goldwyn Mayer. The cartoon features a great deal of 1940s slang, a parody of the popular (but controversial) zoot suit, and some outdated features of 1930s popular culture.
The Zoot Cat (13) Tom and Jerry Cartoons Full 1944
The cartoon opens on a Valentine note to Toots from Tom, with a pink ribbon tied to Jerry who, unhappily, lies inside a gift box. Meanwhile, Tom gets ready for a date, his whiskers in curlers as he slaps lard on top of his head. He dabs cologne on both himself and Jerry, then proudly marches off to his female friend’s house.
Tom knocks on the door, rings the doorbell and yells out, “Yoo hoo! Hey Toots!”. He drops the box and hides behind a pillar on the porch. Toots opens the door and is pleasantly surprised at the gift. She opens the box, and Jerry says to her, “Uh, what’s cookin’, Toots?”. Tom then whistles to get her attention and pops out of hiding. He attempts to impress Toots by playing a ukulele, twisting a yo-yo string into the words “Hi Babe”, and dancing. Finally, Tom presents her with a bouquet of flowers, but a loose floorboard smacks him in the face and sends him bouncing down the porch steps.
Toots responds with a dissent, while Jerry nods in agreement to her words. After she throws the gift back at Tom, Jerry grabs an ear of corn and plants it in the box, signifying that Tom’s efforts were “corny” (slang for outdated). Tom tries to catch Jerry, but he crashes into a gate and Jerry slips away. Tom then hears a voice, “Boy are you corny. How many times have you been told that?”. Tom peeks through the window and sees Toots listening to a radio while painting her claws. The radio continues with a commercial for a zoot suit, which gives Tom an idea: to make his own zoot suit and mystify his intended. Stealing a pair of scissors and a lampshade, Tom fashions his own zoot suit from an orange and green hammock.
On his knocking on the door again, Toots is now shocked to see Tom in the impressive outfit. She exclaims, “Jackson!” and Tom responds, “What’s jumpin’, chick?”. Jerry sees Tom and his bulging eyes mirror the suit. Tom lights a cigar as Toots compliments his new, hip look. As he models the suit for Toots, we see a coat hanger that holds the shoulders of the jacket at full width, and a long pocket chain which is actually a bathtub plug and she says “Now you collar my jive”. And she says ” You’re on the right side, you alligator”, when he uses a tape measure. Toots invites Tom inside, and they start to jive dance. Jerry politely cuts in, dancing a few steps with Toots before Tom realizes what’s going on. Tom chases Jerry, who escapes by jumping into an ashtray and rubbing a burning cigarette butt on Tom’s nose.
Tom resumes his fast-paced dance with Toots. Jerry then peels a banana and throws the skin onto the floor, which sends Tom sailing through the air. Tom crashes into a piano and slides across the keys, but he recovers in majestic form and starts to play, taking on the persona of a suave, romantic lover to intensify the romance. Tom attempts to seduce Toots using a Charles Boyer-esque voice (“Ah, I love you. When I’m with you, I am what you call…a hip cat. I am hip, to the jive.”) Toots swoons, and Tom winks at the camera to indicate his plan is working. Jerry then sticks matches in Tom’s toes, and lights them in order to give him a hot foot. Tom unwittingly continues with a fire-related theme (“You set my soul on fire. It is not just a little spark. It is a flame; a big roaring flame”.) Jerry smiles as the flames engulf Tom’s feet (“I can feel it now—it is burning, burning, BURNING”.) He pauses, sniffs the smoke-filled air (he says in a Groucho Marx voice, “Hey! something is burning around here!”), and then realizes what Jerry has done and screams in pain. Jerry runs away and opens a floor vent. Tom blindly stumbles into the vent and is sent careening into the basement.
Jerry resumes dancing with Toots. Tom returns, determined to flatten Jerry with a fireplace shovel. He misses, and is whacked on the head by Jerry instead. A chase ensues. Jerry hides behind a table’s leg and uses his foot to trip Tom. Then he scurries under a couch and Tom dives after him. Jerry clips the hanger in Tom’s jacket to a window-shade, then kicks Tom in both eyes. Tom angrily pursues the fleeing mouse, unraveling the shade to its fullest extent. As the shade tries to roll back, Tom grabs hold of a coffee table, but Jerry hits his hands with the shovel and Tom is rolled into the shade and dunked in a fishbowl.
Tom is left hanging on the shade as his wet zoot suit slowly shrinks. Finally, it pops off his body and drifts down to the floor. Jerry jumps into the shrunken suit, which is now a perfect fit for him. He then walks away with the zoot suit, dancing into a curtain and finishing his dance by brandishing the hat off his head.