'Tom and Jerry' cartoon reference

This has been buggin me for years. Bear with me for a moment for a quickie plot synopsis then my real question:

One of the 1940s T&J cartoons, (I think it was called “The White Mouse”) involved a white mouse that had drunk some nitroglycerine (or something explosive) and escaped from a science laboratory. An all-points bulletin is issued, Tom is all panicky, Jerry paints himself white and fools Tom into thinking he is the white mouse. Tom spends the next several minutes saving Jerry from his efforts to blow himself up (typical cartoon hijinks ensue). The real white mouse shows up, Jerry’s ruse is uncovered (as is his natural color) - typical cartoon misunderstandings ensue and Tom smacks the white mouse whom he thinks is Jerry in disguise, causing the real white mouse to explode, creating havoc and destruction.

The very ending scene has the house blown to smitherines and the still-intact radio blaring that “the white mouse is completely harmless”. Tom rises slowly from the rubble, looks directly at the audience and says in an ultra-basso, monotone, drawn-out voice:

"Donnnnn’t yooooooou beeee-lieeeeeeeeve iiiiiiiiiit!!"

Apart from the fact that this cartoon scared the bejeesus out of me when I was very young, I know now that a lot of the cartoons of this era reference pop culture of the day (“Paging Mr. Ripley!”, “I’m only tweee and a half-years old!”, “I’ve been a baaaaad boy.”).

What in blazing tarnation is this sentence referencing?!? A famous catch phrase? A celebrity personality’s vocalization/delivery? What?! Help!

“Don’t you believe it!” comes from the dawn of the cold-war era anti-communist/anti-labour propaganda newsreels.

Thank you. Never saw any of these - are any available on video archives? And were they done in that creepy voice (watch the cartoon: you’ll know what I mean).

Eek… I lied.

CBS Radio spots from 1946-1948 (15 minutes.) (Not newsreels.)

(I’ve only heard two or three of these, and they were all anti-labour-- implying that unions had an agenda to “soften up” America for Red rule. I don’t know if they were all like that.)

BTW, The messenger (usually with a plant/tree) who would wander into scenes, inexplicably calling “Mrs. Jones!? Mrs. Jones!!” was a reference to the bizarre broadway play (and later movie) Hellzapoppin!

You might ask in some of the OTR groups if you’d like to hear the originals – I’ve seen them floating around but never grabbed any.

Yes, the voice is like that.

I tried to find a wav file, but could only find parodies:

Tom from Tom & Jerry
Bugs Bunny

Good grief, messenger? Plant/tree? What was the plotline of this? And where would the above-mentioned catch-phrase come in?

¡Viva Olsen y Johnson!


I don’t know how different the 1941 movie is from the 1938 play, but you can get it here on DVD. It’s in PAL format, which means it won’t work on a US DVD player, but if you have a computer that plays DVDs, well, then - Boomps-a-Daisy!

This is one of my favorite T & J cartoons (my all time favorite being the Dancing Bear one, but I digress) I believe Tom’s eerie booming voice is in response to the radio announcer’s voice saying that the white mouse is in fact, not dangerous. Of course, Tom has been blown up and responds, “Don’t you believe it”.

If this is a greater message to the public regarding nuclear war, I can’t say.

I also meant to add that I don’t think Tom’s voice was a reference to any other pop culture thing, just that it was really scary, as is the thought of nuclear war.

FYI, the cartoon was “The Missing Mouse” (1951).

In Hellzapoppin, (which applied the anarchistic cartoon sensibility to theatre,) a messenger would occasionally wander onstage with a potted-plant, calling for “Mrs. Jones.” At first, it’s tiny, but with each appearance, it’s larger, and the messenger becomes more and more frantic. (Near the end, he’s got what appears to be a California Redwood on the back of a huge truck, and he’s on top of the tree.) It didn’t fit into the plot in any way- The action would simply stop during these interruptions. I mentioned it because Tex Avery and the Fleischer brothers both inserted this fella into their cartoons – another contemporary pop reference that goes by a lot of people.

Whaa? Mad empiricism I can respect, if you don’t want to believe that the intonation of “Don’t you believe it,” is a reference to a radio program you’ve never heard, since we don’t have a .wav of it handy, but how can you listen to Bugs saying the same thing in the same way (in 1947) and not catch on that it’s a catch-phrase? :confused:

Hey folks, thanks for all the answers. I’ll be watching this one in a new light (even though it STILL scares the bejeebers outta me).

Kinda wish someone would write a book detailing and referencing the verbal and visual jokes in the classic cartoons for posterity - I’ve seen the “Bing Crosby’s racehorse” gag and still don’t get the reference.

Well, you see, um, I thought, well…

Hey, isn’t that Mammy over there?

<runs away>

Heh heh… :smiley:

Screech-owl–Crosby owned a lot of race horses at one time, none of which were exactly Kentucky Derby class. It was a big joke in the entertainment media back in the day.

As for the book(s), wish no more. “Loony Tunes and Merrie Melodies: A Complete Illustrated Guide to the Warner Bros Cartoons” by Jerry Beck and Will Friedwald is your answer. The guide has every WB short cartoon from 1930 to the present listed in chronological order, complete with summary, cast/crew listing, and some info on the more obscure chronological references.

You might also try these books, too:

Tex Avery: King of Cartoons by Joe Adamson
Chuck Amuck: The Life and Times of an Animated Cartoonist by Chuck Jones (RIP)
Of Mice and Magic: A History of American Animated Cartoons by Leonard Maltin (highly recommended!)