Saturday, June 27, 2009

Pixie and Dixie — Jinks Junior

Produced and Directed by Bill Hanna and Joe Barbera.
Credits: Animation – Lew Marshall (Mike Lah uncredited); Layout – Dick Bickenbach; Backgrounds – Fernando Montealegre; Dialogue and Story Sketches – Charlie Shows and Dan Gordon; Titles – Art Goble; Production Supervision – Howard Hanson.
Cast: Jinks, Junior, Dixie – Daws Butler; Pixie, Puppy, Dog – Don Messick.
Released: December 11, 1958.
Plot: Jinks teaches his son how to catch mice, but innocent Junior wants to be friends. Jinks ends up taking a pounding from Pixie and Dixie to provide the ultimate lesson.

Delighted children in happy homes with loving parents. That may describe the viewers of cartoons on TV circa 1958 but it doesn’t describe what they’re watching. For the world of animation is a world filled with parent-less or mother-less tykes. We have child nephews (Donald Duck, Popeye, Jerry Mouse, even Bugs Bunny), a nephew and a niece (Woody Woodpecker) and even a son (Sylvester), but narry a doting mother to gingerly cup their little darlings to their sainted maternal bosom. Of course, that would get in the way of the plot, wouldn’t it?

So it is that Mr. Jinks doesn’t have a Mrs. Jinks, but he does have a Jinks Junior. But more amazing than all this female-less cartoon procreation is the fact Daws Butler found yet another child voice for Junior. Daws, of course, was Augie Doggie (say, he didn’t have a mother either, did he?). He was Elroy Jetson. And Aesop, Junior. They all sound different. And Jinks Junior is different still, with Daws using a tinier voice, pretty well the one he used for Pinky the Elephant in one of the Ruff and Reddy adventures. Daws Butler was such a remarkable talent and is one of the big reasons why there’s something to enjoy in these early Hanna-Barbera efforts, even when the story or animation could have been a lot better.

The animation in this one has errors and oddities. In the opening sequence, Jinks’ right cheek fur appears and disappears (and you’ll notice here the arm on a separate cell is covering part of Jinks’ tie). Even worse is something that happens in several places in the cartoon—the lighter-coloured mouth and muzzle jerks back and forth on his face when he’s talking (especially in the last scene).



Junior has that football-with-ears shape that Ed Benedict (or somebody) loved. Ruff is designed the same way. So is the original Tony Junior in the Kellogg’s commercials. The plot’s a simple one. Jinks informs Junior that “Today, you are a man, uh, cat” and that means it’s the day he is to catch his first mouse. Jinks has to explain the delight a cat has in catching a mouse (in extreme close-up, for some reason) to the naïve Junior.



Here’s a good indication that animator Lew Marshall worked on the Tom and Jerry cartoons in the ‘50s. Junior has the same head-down, knitted-brow look that Tom used to effect when he was angrily determined.

It turns out Jinks has a problem. Junior makes friends with Pixie and Dixie. So Jinks gives a demonstration on how to catch them instead. And fails. So Junior copies him. Junior, naturally, doesn’t suffer the same pain because he treats it like a game. (As a side note, I like the striped wallpaper here. Jinks’ house seems to have different wall colours or wall paper every cartoon and we get stripes in a couple of them).



So, it’s back to the drawing board—literally—for Jinks. The cat-teach-kitten-about-mouse-using-blackboard idea is lifted directly from Professor Tom, the 1948 Tom and Jerry cartoon that seems to have inspired this one.



Next, the cat uses a wind-up toy mouse to show his son how to catch a mouse. But Junior rides the streamlined metal mouse instead (past the same window curtain five times) coming to an abrupt stop with the old “low bridge” joke.

“Daddy-O” then sends Junior to Pixie and Dixie’s mouse hole, but it turns out the mice gives him a delectable snack. “Thanks, fellas. I like cheese,” says Junior, as Jinks pulls a Tex Avery take with considerably less panache than Avery.

Finally the exasperated Jinks cuts a deal with the meece. He asks them to beat him up so Junior will get mad at them and grow up to be like other cats. They enthusiastically do so in some cycle animation (Jinks’ mouth remains open as if making one long scream, but Daws goes “Ouch” and “Ooch” on the soundtrack). The plot works. The knitted-browed kitten chases the mice back into their hole and tells them “You can’t do that to my dad!” as Jinks happily responds “That’s my boy that said that!” in a manner very similar to the taxi cab/father in Avery’s One Cab’s Family (also voiced by Butler).

Jinks thanks the mice for their help. The characterisation Shows comes up with works really well. Warren Foster expanded on it in later cartoons where the cat and mice are friends instead of enemies. Here, the two are friendly—but the mice still get some pleasure in clobbering the cat, so they’re not altogether friends.

But Jinks’ troubles aren’t over yet. Junior is now outside playing with a puppy. The cat once again is forced to explain the ways of the world—“A dog is a cat’s worst emeny. Dogs and cats are supposed to fight like cats and dogs.” Well, if Jinks wants it that way, the puppy’s daddy reaches into the frame and is willing to accommodate. Jinks lamely tries to talk his way out of it as the iris closes and we’re left to guess what inevitably happens next. Yes, being a TV cartoon, we get dialogue but no action.



Someone can correct me if I’m wrong, but I guess Junior either moved in with the puppy or went back to the Home For Celluloid Orphans as I don’t believe he appeared in another cartoon. The soundtrack for this cartoon was released as a children’s record by Colpix as “Ain’t So Easy to Catch a Meecy”—minus the stock music in the background. (Note, the link to the record in the widget on the right is busted for now).

The syndicated version of this cartoon opens with my favourite arrangement of the Pixie and Dixie theme which features a triangle and a tuba. We get Jack Shaindlin’s Toboggan Run during one of the chase scenes and a full version of a ‘walker’ melody by Shaindlin (if anyone knows the title of it, please e-mail me).


0:00 - Pixie and Dixie triangle opening theme (Hanna-Barbera-Shows-Curtin).
0:26 - TC 204A WISTFUL COMEDY (Bill Loose-John Seely) – Jinks announces it’s Junior’s day of man(cat)hood, tells him to catch mice.
1:43 - LAF 25-3 bassoon and zig-zag strings (Shaindlin) – Junior makes friends with mice.
2:15 - LAF-5-20 TOBOGGAN RUN (Shaindlin) – Jinks chases mice into hole; Junior copies.
2:40 - L 78 COMEDY UNDERSCORE (Spencer Moore) – Jinks teaches Junior with mechanical mouse.
3:59 - TC 432 HOLLY DAY (Loose-Seely) – Junior eats cheese; Jinks makes deal with mice.
5:07 - ZR 47 LIGHT MOVEMENT (Geordie Hormel) – Mice beat up Jinks; Junior chases them.
5:48 - LAF 25-3 bassoon and zig-zag strings (Shaindlin) – Junior plays with puppy; dad dog threatens Jinks.
7:10 - Pixie and Dixie end theme (Hanna-Barbera-Shows-Curtin).

1 comment:

  1. An interesting thing to note...Jinks Jr. looks different in the title card than in the rest of the short. The design in the actual cartoon is much cuter, in my opinion.

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