Friday, April 10, 2009

Pixie and Dixie — Kit Kat Kit

Produced and Directed by Bill Hanna and Joe Barbera.
Credits: Animation – Ken Muse; Layout – Ed Benedict; Backgrounds – Frank Tipper; Dialogue and Story Sketches – Charlie Shows and Dan Gordon; Titles – Art Goble; Production Supervision – Howard Hanson.
Voice Cast: Pixie – Don Messick; Dixie, Jinks – Daws Butler.
Released: week of Monday, October 13, 1958.
Plot: Tired of chasing Pixie and Dixie, Jinks builds a robot cat to do it for him. The mice turns the mechanical cat against him with a makeshift mouse outfit.

This is an awkwardly written cartoon, and it may have been a case of Charlie Shows not having enough material for the main plot and needing to fill with other gags. Normally, a cartoon would consist of either a string of black-out type gags, or a premise at the outset and the gags are built around it. That doesn’t happen here. The idea revolves around Jinksie building the mechanical kitty—but it takes about three minutes to get into it.

And there are places where Jinks is oddly-designed, like Ken Muse hadn’t gotten the hang of the character or an assistant was given parts of the cartoon. To your left you see a pretty good-looking Jinks. It reminds me of a character design you might see in one of Joe and Bill’s M.G.M. cartoons.



Compare that to Jinks on the right. He looks like something from the cover of a public domain cartoon video. So this isn’t a terrific cartoon but there are some fun things that make it worthwhile.

We begin this cartoon already in progress, with the cat chasing the mice around some foreground slab pillars (one of them built over a rug?). Evidently, the home belongs to Jinks, judging by the pictures on the wall. His taste in decorating leaves a bit to be desired as the blue and tan is an, um, interesting colour choice.



Jinks chases Pixie and Dixie into their hole (with a broken teacup and a thimble as furniture). They’re pooped. Jinks figures “there must be a easier way to make a living.” He decides to build a better mousetrap.

The mice call Jinks and he answers with a long “Yeeeeeees?” just like Frank Nelson on the Jack Benny show. The cheap TV animation gets in the way here. Instead of following Daws Butler’s mouth movements, Muse just opens and closes Jinks’ mouth twice to supposedly represent the vocal sound. Jinks then explains the trap to the mice and with an expected result.

Next, Jinks demonstrates the firecracker-in-the-cheese method of catching mice. The mice are impressed and want to get a picture of it (note to you kids reading this: that thing Dixie is holding is called a “camera”). They ask Jinks to pose. You can guess what happens.



Finally we get the point of the cartoon. Jinks gets out the ‘Do It Yourself Kitty-Kat-Kit’ and builds a mechanical cat, complete with bow tie and a head that jumps up and down to the sound effect of a glass lid being clanked onto a casserole dish (I know this one from trying it at home when I was a kid).



The Robot-matic Mouse Trap paces back and forth. Wait a minute! Where have I seen that window, picture and rug before? Oh, right. In the opening scene. But cartoon magic has made the slab pillars vanish.

The tin-can cat captures Pixie via a trap door at its bottom then shoots a cork to knock out Dixie. Muse would have given this full animation at M.G.M. Here he just takes a cell of the mouse with grey trails and turns it around a couple of times to simulate Dixie flipping over. Pretty clever.



The mice are deposited outside by the robot. Jinks gloats out the window, and Dixie vows war in an interesting shot from Jinks’ perspective. Look at the plants. If there was any doubt Ed Benedict designed this cartoon...




Unfortunately, Dixie is caught before he’s able to sneak into the house in another one of Shows’ butt jokes. Then the mice are mashed with a mallet as they tried to bore their way into the home from a six-inch clearance under the foundation.

Finally, as Jinks sleeps, the mice realise the robot is only programmed only to catch mice, so they use some paper, tape and paint to turn the cat into a giant mouse. And they’re right. The mechanical cat can’t tell the difference and gives Jinks the patented Charlie Shows Ass Treatment as they run by the same Benedict-style barn nine times.



It’s only appropriate the cartoon score opens with Jack Shaindlin’s Toboggan Run (those mice look awfully scruffy in that frame to the right) and we get the circus chase cue by Shaindlin called On the Run. The musical selections work well in this one.

0:00 – Pixie and Dixie theme (Hanna-Barbera-Curtin).
0:26 – F-20 TOBOGGAN RUN (Shaindlin) - Jinks chases Pixie and Dixie into mousehole.
0:46 – TC 432 HOLLY DAY (Bill Loose-John Seely) - Mice and Jinks pant, Jinks builds trap.
1:57 – TC 303 ZANY COMEDY (Loose-Seely) - Jinks demonstrates dynamite-in-a-cheese.
3:18 – TC 221 HEAVY AGITATO (Loose-Seely) - Jinks tries out mechanical mouse
3:43 – F-1-1 FISHY STORY (Shaindlin) – Mice ask Jinks how mechanical mouse works.
3:58 – TC 221 HEAVY AGITATO (Loose-Seely) - Mechnical mouse captures Pixie and Dixie.
4:38 – F-1-1 FISHY STORY (Shaindlin) - Mechanical Mouse zaps then bashes Dixie.
6:02 – TC 300 ECCENTRIC COMEDY (Loose-Seely) - Pix and Dix turn Jinks into giant mouse.
6:34 – LAF-2-12 ON THE RUN (Shaindlin) - Mechanical Mouse chases Jinks.
7:10 – Pixie and Dixie closing theme (Curtin).

5 comments:

  1. Dodsworth,

    By the way, Dixie is holding a Leica camera (on the moment in which he was taking a photo of Mr. Jinks), right?

    ReplyDelete
  2. This is similar to Trap Happy, a T&J cartoon.

    ReplyDelete
  3. This is a very cute cartoon!

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  4. How is this cartoon awkwardly written?

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  5. This is a terrific cartoon!

    ReplyDelete