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The Night Before Christmas (titled Not Even a Mouse in development) is a 1941 Tom and Jerry short set at Christmastime. The short was nominated for the 1941 Academy Award for Best Animated Short Film, but lost to the Pluto cartoon Lend a Paw.
In a large house on Christmas Eve, the night before Christmas, nothing is stirring, not even a mouse... or so it seems at first. Jerry emerges from his hole avoiding a Christmas-themed mousetrap (already baited with a piece of cheese wrapped in a red ribbon) placed by his hole. Jerry quickly heads for 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 what he thinks is another soft toy. Jerry jumps up and down on the grey fur, little realizing that what he is jumping on is, in fact, Tom who has woken up. Tom snarls and just before he can eat Jerry, the quick-thinking mouse grabs a nearby "Not to be opened until Xmas" sticker and instantly places it on Tom's mouth.
Jerry hides among the myriad of toys (even firing a trick cannon's cork at Tom) and hides inside a Christmas tree light, causing him to glow. Tom, obviously not fooled by this charade, grabs Jerry and is promptly electrocuted. Jerry hides among some toy soldiers, but Tom spots him, and just as he is about to crush Jerry with his paw, the mouse runs off. Tom chases Jerry, but is stopped by the barrier of a miniature level crossing. A toy train passes by, with many carriages. Jerry is sitting on top of the caboose, waving cheekily at Tom and pulling faces. However, the train enters a model of a tunnel, and Jerry, sitting on top of the train, hits his head, knocking him onto the track. He quickly 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 professional boxing referee would.
Tom chases Jerry once again, but Jerry holds out a piece of mistletoe in from 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 slot letterbox 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. 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."
The short made its home video debut on the Tom & Jerry's 50th Birthday Classics III VHS, released by MGM/UA Home Video on November 3, 1992. It was later featured on the VHS release Tom & Jerry's The Night Before Christmas, which also included three other Christmas-themed MGM cartoon shorts - The Captain's Christmas, Toyland Broadcast, and One Ham's Family. At around the same time, the short was also included on MGM/UA Home Video's The Art of Tom and Jerry Volume 1 Laserdisc set.
After Turner Entertainment was purchased by Time Warner, and Warner Home Video obtained the video rights to the Tom and Jerry cartoons as a result, the short made its DVD debut on the Tom and Jerry Spotlight Collection: Volume 2 DVD set, released on October 25, 2005. Warner later included it on the Tom and Jerry Golden Collection: Volume 1 DVD and Blu-ray sets, released on October 25, 2011.
Between its inclusions on Warner's two Tom and Jerry collections, The Night Before Christmas was also included on the second disc of the Warner Bros. Home Entertainment Academy Awards Animation Collection: 15 Winners, 26 Nominees DVD set, released on February 12, 2008. The disc containing the short was later reissued individually as Warner Bros. Home Entertainment Academy Award-Nominated Animation: Cinema Favorites on August 6, 2013.
- Tom and Jerry Wiki: The Night Before Christmas
- The Night Before Christmas at the Internet Movie Database
- The Night Before Christmas at the Big Cartoon DataBase
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