Saturday, May 30, 2009

Pixie and Dixie — Jinks’ Mice Device

Produced and Directed by Joe Barbera and Bill Hanna.
Credits: Animation – Ken Muse; Layout – Mike Lah; Backgrounds – Fernando Montealegre; Dialogue and Story Sketches – Charlie Shows and Dan Gordon; Titles – Art Goble; Production Supervision – Howard Hanson.
Cast: Pixie – Don Messick; Dixie, Mr. Jinks – Daws Butler.
Released: week of Monday, October 20, 1958.
Plot: Jinks thinks he’s disintegrated Pixie and Dixie with his self-invented ray gun but only makes them invisible. The unseen mice pick on the cat, until he learns the mice are still alive and pulls a turnabout.

Hanna-Barbera became famous—and later, infamous—for its short-cut methods of TV animation. Sure, the cartoons didn’t look as stiff as Crusader Rabbit or the egregiously cut-rate and best-left-forgotten Bucky and Pepito. But no one would ever mistake them for the beautifully-flowing drawings of Hanna and Barbera’s Tom and Jerry at M.G.M. either.

Joe and Bill employed all kinds of ‘cheating’ devices in the early days—some were kind of ingenious—that gave the appearance of action. And one that surfaced a couple of times was a plot concept to have characters on the screen without drawing them. The story would call for them to be invisible.

The earliest example is in “Jinks Mice Device,” one of several cartoons that involved everyone’s favourite orange housecat in a makeshift basement lab, cooking up a plot against the meeces. This cartoon opens with another one of those flat-designed homes that yells “I was built by Ed Benedict!” in a static shot as the camera moves in for an animation-saving close-up.

Jinks is busy working on what he thinks is a ‘Mouse Discombooberator’ gun, which he helpfully explains to the audience. Here, Ken Muse uses more triangular shapes for the cat’s head as we view the speckled-paint backgrounds fairly common in the early H-B cartoons.

From the basement Jinks emerges and convinces Pixie and Dixie the ‘Zero Ray Mice Device’ is a camera and gets them to pose for a picture. Jinks pulls the trigger, a moving double-squiggly ray envelopes the mice, who vanish. Now they spend much of the rest of the cartoon as little talking lines which must have saved on the cartoon budget considerably.



Having realised they are now invisible, the meece decide to have some fun with Jinks. As the cat phones to order a $1,000,000 blue yacht (to match his eyes), the invisible mice carry a pair of pliers and a hammer into the living room. The tools are on one cell that’s simply moved up and down slightly over a moving background and voilĂ —inexpensive TV animation. The tools attack Jinks’ feet one after the other with results that are about as extreme as anything Muse drew at Hanna-Barbera (and we get Daws Butler exclaiming “Ouch!” but Jinks’ mouth doesn’t move.



Jinks is attacked by a lawnmower (somehow, he re-grows his fur back just as the hand-mower runs over him a second time in the opposite direction, passing the same picture on the wall six times). Then he decides to escape further injury by climbing a makeshift tower. If this were a Sylvester cartoon, you’d see him going back and forth carting the stuff into position, but there isn’t that kind of luxury here. It just seems to assemble itself. No matter. A saw (which slides back and forth over the same stationary cell) cuts down Jinks.

The meece pull Jinks on a bath mat into the basement stairwell and then decide to raid the fridge, giggling about how Jinks merely turned them invisible. Ah, that’s a fatal misstep, for the cat overhears the “scoop-a-rooney.” He rushes to the basement, gets a spray paint gun and un-invisibles his prey. Then, thanks to a string attached to the trigger of his ray gun, Jinks makes himself unseen, and uses a broom on the fleeing mice, as the eternal chase between cat and mouse continues past the iris out.



You’ll notice to the right how Muse uses those little wheels to show where the feet are revving into high gear to zip off camera. He did that fairly often in the early cartoons, but less so in the later ones. As well, you can see an animation error below where Pixie’s tie keeps vanishing in the walk cycle.



Jack Shaindlin’s Toboggan Run didn’t make it into the soundtrack of this cartoon; instead we get a Geordie Hormel melody used in chase scenes in the first season. The rest of the music is also from the Capitol Hi-Q library and credited to Bill Loose, John Seely and Spencer Moore.


0:00 - Pixie and Dixie vocal sub main title theme (Hanna-Barbera-Curtin-Shows).
0:26 - TC 202 ECCENTIC COMEDY (Loose-Seely) – Jinks zaps meece with ray gun.
1:57 - L 78 COMEDY UNDERSCORE (Moore) – Pixie and Dixie attack Jinks with pliers and hammer.
2:58 - TC 303 - ZANY COMEDY (Loose-Seely) – Jinks ignores lawmower.
3:27 - TC 300 - ECCENTRIC COMEDY (Loose-Seely) – Jinks attacked by lawmower; sawed down from stack of tables.
4:45 - L 81 COMEDY UNDERSCORE (Moore) – Jinks given ‘ride’ on bath mat; mice decide to eat.
5:58 - L 81 COMEDY UNDERSCORE (Moore) – Jinks sprays mice with paint; makes himself invisible.
7:03 - ZR-47 LIGHT MOVEMENT (Hormel) – Jinks chases mice with broom.
7:10 - Pixie and Dixie end title theme (Hanna-Barbera-Curtin-Shows).

3 comments:

  1. You forgot Mr.Jinks's "Indivis-bility". Excellent post.

    SC

    ReplyDelete
  2. This cartoon is similar to 2 T&J cartoons; The Invisible Mouse & The Vanishing Duck.

    ReplyDelete
  3. This is better than any Sylvester cartoon. Mr. Jinks isn't as cool as Tom but he's much better than Sylvester!

    ReplyDelete