The Night Before Christmas is a 1941 one-reel animated cartoon and is the 3rd Tom and Jerry short directed by Bill Hanna and Joe Barbera, produced by Fred Quimby and animated by Jack Zander, George Gordon, Irven Spence and Bill Littlejohn. As was the practice in original issues of MGM animated shorts at the time, only Hanna and Barbera are credited. It was nominated for the 1941 Academy Award for Best Short Subject: Cartoons. It was released to theaters on December 6, 1941 by Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer, one day before the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor, making it the last Tom and Jerry pre-war cartoon.
In a house on the night before Christmas, nothing was stirring, not even a mouse. But Jerry emerges from his hole avoiding a Christmas-themed mousetrap placed by his hole. Jerry nears the Christmas presents, jumping merrily around the tree, licking candy canes and jumping onto a plush toy lion that squeaks. Jerry continues jumping on the soft toy, but bounces too hard and lands on Tom, who he inadvertently wakes up. Tom snarls and just before he can eat Jerry, the quick-thinking mouse grabs a nearby "Do Not Open 'Til Xmas" sticker and slaps it on Tom's mouth.
Jerry is chased among the myriad of toys (briefly stopping to fire a trick cannon's cork stopper at Tom) and hides inside a Christmas fairy light, causing him to glow. Not fooled, Tom grabs Jerry and is promptly electrocuted. Jerry hides among some toy soldiers, but Tom spots him and the mouse runs off, saluting the cat like a real soldier would. Tom chases Jerry, but is stopped by the barrier of a miniature level crossing. A toy train passes by, with many carriages. Jerry sits on top of the caboose, waving cheekily at Tom and pulling faces. As the train enters a model of a tunnel and Jerry hits his head, knocking him onto the track. He runs through the tunnel, pursued by Tom, who knocks the tunnel over. Jerry hides inside a boxing glove and boxes the puzzled cat in the face before running off behind the Christmas tree. Tom, now arming himself with a boxing glove of his own, follows him and spots him jumping into a jack-in-the-box. Opening up the box, Tom is punched by the boxing glove stuck on Jack's head and is knocked out. Jerry jumps out and holds it up in victory like a boxing referee.
Tom chases Jerry once again, but Jerry holds out a piece of mistletoe in front of him and persuades an embarrassed Tom to kiss him. Tom blushes and while his back is turned, Jerry kicks him in the rear. The mouse darts through the letterbox slot into the outdoors. As Tom opens the lid of the letterbox to see where Jerry has gone, Jerry hurls a snowball at his face. Tom angrily barricades the slot so that Jerry cannot get back into the house.
While Jerry trudges up and down in the heavy snow in a vain attempt to warm himself, Tom fluffs up his cushion and prepares to sleep. He is unable to settle himself; heavenly choirs sing carols, pricking Tom's conscience with the message of Christmas peace and goodwill. He first props open the slot to allow Jerry back in and when the mouse does not reappear, ventures anxiously outside to find Jerry, frozen. Fearing for Jerry's life, he brings the frozen mouse indoors and warms him up by the fire, saving his life. Slowly, Jerry regains consciousness, but is wary of the cat. Tom hands Jerry a candy cane, his Christmas present. A delighted Jerry licks his cane, but then quickly reacts to prevent Tom drinking from his bowl of milk. He dips his cane into the bowl and a loud snap is heard. Jerry uses the cane to fish a mousetrap that he had earlier planted in the bowl. Tom appreciates Jerry's warning and the mouse runs back to his hole. He uses his candy cane to hook the cheese off the mousetrap. Instead of snapping like a usual mousetrap does, the spring slowly comes down, ringing the tune of "Jingle Bells" as Jerry smiles in admiration to the "musical mousetrap."
MGM Super 8
- DVD - Tom and Jerry Golden Collection, Disc 1, & Tom and Jerry Spotlight Collection Volume 2, Disc 1
- VHS - Tom & Jerry's 50th Birthday Classics 3