Saturday, 11 July 2009

Pixie and Dixie — Jinks’ Flying Carpet

Produced and Directed by Bill Hanna and Joe Barbera.
Credits: Animation – Ken Muse; Layout – Dick Bickenbach; Backgrounds – Fernando Montealegre; Dialogue and Story Sketches – Charlie Shows and Dan Gordon; Titles – Art Goble; Production Supervision – Howard Hanson.
Cast: Pixie, Duck – Don Messick; Dixie, Jinks – Daws Butler.
Released: January 1, 1959.
Plot: Pixie and Dixie laugh at Jinks’ ineptness in catching them. The cat gets a flying carpet in the mail but it inevitably doesn’t help him nab the mice.

There are cartoons that you can watch from beginning to end and not really realise that nothing’s happened because you’re caught up watching it, waiting for things to unfold.

That describes Jinks’ Flying Carpet. There are no real big gags nor outrageous drawings (at best, they’re attractive). That’s too bad. It would have been nice to see Jinks get to the flying carpet after establishing the story (within the first minute) and then see five minutes of Jinks getting beat up by the carpet and his own ineptitude before the rug gracefully and casually sails off into the sunset. But no. This cartoon is almost all set-up and no punch-line. Despite that, it’s still a pleasant little piece, thanks mainly to Daws Butler as Jinks and the characterisations. You like Jinks so much that it slips your mind that there’s not a lot of real action. It’s just a short slice of life stretched to seven minutes.

The short opens with the mice munching on cookies. Jinks pops up and again he borrows from the Jack Benny show as we hear him use the Mr. Kitzel catchphrase “Hoo hoo HOO!” The mice are unimpressed. They mimic Jinks and tell him all he does is say the same old thing and that he’s slipping. There goes the first minute of the cartoon.

Pixie and Dixie decide to play along with Jinks and make a run for it (past the same curtains six times). To keep our interest, we can watch the animation error as Dixie’s whiskers disappear and re-appear as he’s talking; apparently they were left off one of the drawings used in the talk cycle.


After running past the same curtains six times, Jinks leaps after the mice but flies over them. We don’t watch the crash-landing; we just see the mice watching it as the camera shakes on impact. “He misses every time,” Pixie opines. “Poor Jinksie. He’s getting old.” Jinks runs for them but the mice leap into the air and Jinks slides under them and into the kitchen with another crash.


There’s a soundtrack error where the words “And Jinks ain’t got it” come out of Dixie, but sound like Pixie. But then the audio gets fixed. “Poor Jinks, he’s had it,” says Pixie, as the meeces agree to take a nap because it’s more exciting. That takes up another minute and a half.

Jinks bemoans he’s a has-been and washed up, as Daws makes an odd purring noise (the mouth is animated for it) I don’t think he repeated in any cartoon. The pity party is interrupted by a mailman with a package for Mr. Jinks (who has his own mailbox). Now we learn some vital information—Jinks’ house is at 136 Catnip Lane, U.S.A. The cat reads the return address label on the tube, which isn’t the same as Dick Bickenbach drew in the layout (Jinks reads it as “Punjab, India”).


The cat opens the tube and discovers the flying carpet, and then reads to us the note attached to it that the audience can plainly see. Jinks then repeats part of the instructions and laughs at the silliness of it. He gets on the rug and repeats it again. We are now more than four minutes into the cartoon and still waiting for something other than a plot set-up.

Well, lo and behold, the rug flies. It takes Jinks past the same trees below him five times. The trees are apparently a special transparent kind as you can partly see through them. The director then cuts to a medium shot but Jinks is facing in a different direction. After one sentence, it’s back to the longer shot and the cat looking ahead again.


The only real gag is an old one, and it’s wasted. Jinks goes “Quack, quack!” as he flies past a duck. We get a surprise take from the duck, who stays in mid-air and adds an “Oh, no!” and... apparently, that’s the best Charlie Shows could come up with. Jinks decides now to turn around and use the rug to chase the meeces. We’re now past the five-minute mark (remember, this is a seven-minute cartoon). And Jinks continues to fill time with a running commentary on what he plans to do.

Jinks now flies past Pixie and Dixie twice, knocking them down. He grabs a convenient coal scuttle and clobbers the mice (after flying past the same door five times). He does it again but in the opposite direction, using the same drawings except turned around. Ah, the mice run under a table in a variation of the ‘low bridge’ gag. The table stops Jinks, but the rug carries on out the window.


Jinks chases after it, again quoting from the Jack Benny show, yelling “Asuza! Cucamonga!” like Mel Blanc’s train conductor character as the cat vainly tries any word in the hope it’s the magic word that will cause the carpet to halt. I still can’t figure out what the last word is supposed to be. (Note: reader Tony revealed this one. See the comments)

Next, uh, oh, the cartoon’s over. Maybe the gags happened off camera.

There are a couple of little background things I like in this cartoon, such as the curtain behind Jinks at the beginning and the various shades of red when Jinks opens the tube.


Other than a rare appearance of a Lou De Francesco melody originally in the Sam Fox library, the only musical surprise is the absence of Jack Shaindlin’s Toboggan Run during any of the chase scenes.


0:00 - Pixie and Dixie sub main theme (Hanna, Barbera, Shows, Curtin).
0:27 - TC 204A WISTFUL COMEDY (Bill Loose-John Seely) – Mice eat cookies, ridicule Jinks.
1:24 - Z 48 FAST MOVEMENT (Geordie Hormel) – Jinks mis-times jump at mice twice.
2:11 - TC 301 ZANY WALTZ (Loose-Seely) – Jinks bemoans he can’t catch mice; gets parcel in mail.
3:10 - TC 303 ZANY COMEDY (Loose-Seely) – Jinks reads note with rug.
3:46 – F-? PIXIE PRANKS (Shaindlin) – Jinks goes flying on rug, flies past duck.
4:45 - ZR 52 LIGHT QUIET (Hormel) – Jinks turns rug around.
5:24 - L-81 COMEDY UNDERSCORE (Spencer Moore) – Jinks knocks down mice with rug, clobbers them with coal shovel.
6:23 - SF10 LIGHT MOVEMENT (De Francesco) – Jinks clobbers mice some more, stopped by table.
6:42 - F-12 FUN ON ICE (Shaindlin) – Jinks chases after flying rug.
7:10 - Pixie and Dixie end title theme (Hoyt Curtin).

2 comments:

  1. The last words are "San Berdoo" -- SouCal slang for San Bernadino.

    ReplyDelete
  2. *smacks head*
    I can hear it now. Thanks, Tony.

    ReplyDelete