The Little Orphan
Tom and Jerry series

The title card of The Little Orphan, featuring the Academy Award Oscar
Directed by William Hanna
Joseph Barbera
Produced by Fred Quimby
Story by William Hanna
Joseph Barbera
Music by Scott Bradley
Animation by Irven Spence
Kenneth Muse
Ed Barge
Ray Patterson
Distributed by Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer
Release date(s) April 30, 1949
Color process Technicolor
Running time 7:50
Language none (text in English)
Preceded by Polka-Dot Puss
Followed by Hatch Up Your Troubles

The Little Orphan is a 1949 American one-reel animated cartoon and is the 40th released Tom and Jerry cartoon, released in theatres on April 30, 1949 by Metro-Goldwyn Mayer. It was produced by Fred Quimby and directed by William Hanna and Joseph Barbera, with music by Scott Bradley. The cartoon was animated by Irven Spence, Kenneth Muse, Ed Barge and Ray Patterson.

The Little Orphan won the 1948 Academy Award for Best Short Subject: Cartoons, this being the fifth Oscar (of seven) given to the cat and mouse team. Though the cartoon was released in 1949, it won its Oscar the previous year. This may have been because it was given a short run at a cinema in 1948 to qualify it for that year's Academy Award.


The cartoon starts with Jerry reading a book whilst taking cheese from a mousetrap. Nibbles arrives and passes Jerry, before trying to snatch all of the cheese from the trap. Jerry saves Nibbles in time. Jerry has been asked to take care of Nibbles over the Thanksgiving holiday. However, Nibbles is, as the note pinned to his scarf says, "always hungry." Jerry attempts to feed the little mouse with his own food, but his cupboards are empty. Quietly, he leads Nibbles out of the mousehole, and sneaks into the living room, where Tom is sleeping beside a bowl of cream. Jerry allows Nibbles to drink the cream from the bowl, before spotting a turkey. Mammy Two Shoes (in a non-speaking role) takes the turkey and puts it on the table, then leaves. Nibbles spots the feast too. Nibbles proceeds to eat certain foods from the table, while Jerry dresses himself and Nibbles as pilgrims, but the trouble begins when Nibbles swallows an orange whole. Jerry hits Nibbles with a knife to remove the orange. It shoots straight out of Nibbles' mouth and right into the sleeping Tom, waking him up.

After Tom's rude awakening, he spies on the two mice, and wearing a feather duster as an Native American headdress, catches Nibbles. Jerry pops a champagne cork into Tom's face. Tom gets up yodels like an Indian and returns, grabbing Jerry. Before tom can kill jerry, nibbles takes a fork and propelled by a plate of jell-o, launches the fork into Tom's rear end causing him to scream. Tom picks up the offending fork and hurls it towards Nibbles, catching him by the diaper. As Tom catches Nibbles, Jerry runs up a nearby candlestick and whacks Tom in the face with a spoon.

Tom launches flaming pussy willows, melting Jerry and Nibbles' hiding places. As they flee, Jerry runs into a knife (Shown as a fork instead in the 1960s TV version by Chuck Jones for CBS) thrown by Tom, and is knocked out cold. Tom grabs Jerry once again. Nibbles catapults a pie into Tom's face, knocking the cat off the table. Nibbles slingshots a candle onto Tom's tail, burning him, so that he appears in blackface (see "Censorship" for information about this scene). Finally, Nibbles launches a champagne bottle like a missile, which hits Tom and shoots him into a cabinet. Tom finally surrenders.

In the final scene, Tom, Jerry and Nibbles say grace at the table. Nibbles finishes his prayers and proceeds to devour the entire turkey before Tom and Jerry are able to pick up their cutlery, leaving the little orphan with a full stomach, which he delightfully pats.


  • On Cartoon Network and other television broadcasts, the blackface gag that occurs after a lit candle lands on Tom's tail is removed. The candle is launched on Tom's tail but nothing happens, and the scene abruptly cuts to the champagne bottle being launched and taking off, then cuts to Jerry and Nibbles watching Tom's crash offscreen. Also removed in this sequence is the bottle striking the blackfaced Tom, sending him into the glass case.
  • In the wrap-around short Life with Tom and the CinemaScope version Feedin' the Kiddie, the scene is also cut in the same manner (although the Life with Tom version left the burning intact, but cuts to the scene where the champagne bottle is being launched by Nibbles before Tom can be seen in blackface). The censored version of Life with Tom may be available on iTunes Store.
  • A 1960s TV version of this cartoon by the Chuck Jones team that aired on CBS had the blackface scene redone, so that Tom's Indian headdress would be intact (and not burned away into pickaninny braids) after getting burned by the candle. Also, before that, the scene where Tom throws a knife on the turkey to trap Jerry is reanimated to replace it with a fork.[1]




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