Saturday, July 4, 2009

Yogi Bear — Big Bad Bully

Produced and Directed by Bill Hanna and Joe Barbera.
Credits: Animation – Carlo Vinci (Mike Lah), Layout – Dick Bickenbach, Backgrounds – Fernando Montealegre; Dialogue and Story Sketches – Charlie Shows and Dan Gordon; Titles – Art Goble; Production Supervision – Howard Hanson.
Voice cast: Yogi, Bull – Daws Butler; Boo Boo, Pig – Don Messick.
Released: week of Monday, October 20, 1958.
Plot: Yogi and Boo Boo try to get past bull to get honey but all three run afoul of angry bees instead.

This cartoon really has two personalities, perhaps because Hanna-Barbera was new and still evolving. On one hand, you have some really primitive-looking animation. Boo Boo and Yogi spend part of the time being drawn with big pointed noses and talking out of the side of their mouths so their heads don’t move; John K. mentions in the comments that it’s the work of Mike Lah. You can pick out similar simple styles of movement (especially mouth movement) in other cartoons without Lah’s name. There’s also cycle animation galore.


On the other hand, the bull in this cartoon is nicely designed, a streamlined version of the bull in Texas Tom, one of Hanna and Barbera’s M.G.M. efforts. And where cycles might have been used, they aren’t. Over the duration of maybe five minutes, Boo Boo has three different ways of running out of the frame.

Here’s the first one. At the beginning of the cartoon, Boo Boo has a little feet cycle but you can clearly see his shape as he races away to the right.




The second one has Boo Boo develop those little wheels that Mike Lah liked to use when his characters made an exit.



The third one is Carlo Vinci’s favourite, starting with that sideways stomp before the character zips out of the frame (generally stretching into a thin tube shape after the stomp and making a diving exit).



While the copy of the cartoon on the Huck DVD doesn’t have any credits, the Big Cartoon Data Base credits the animation to Vinci. But even my untrained eye tells me someone else worked on it as well because of the inconsistencies.

The cartoon uses the same type of plot as the earlier Pie-Pirates (it was the third Yogi cartoon to be released; this was the fourth). Yogi and Boo Boo are hungry, have to overcome a living obstacle to get to their food, and don’t in the end. In this case, substitute “honey” for “pie” and “bull” for “dog.”

A happy-faced bee zips around napping Yogi and Boo-Boo, logically alerting them to the presence of delicious honey. The bears spot a bee hive using a nice little animation effect. Yogi’s face stretches a bit, snout first, but when the snout snaps back into position, Carlo leaves part of the nose in place to heighten the effect. He did the same thing in the Yowp/Yogi cartoon Duck in Luck.



On his way to the hive (using the Yogi “bongo walk” without the bongo sound effects), Yogi meets up with the bull, realises it’s not a ‘moo-moo cow’, then turns and runs away. Being a H-B cartoon, we never see the bull catch Yogi. Instead, the shot cuts to Boo-Boo and the camera shakes with a drum/cymbal crash noise on the soundtrack. Yogi flies into a barn, rides a squealing pig out of it, with a ‘low bridge’ joke ending the gag, as we get two drawings alternating (one with vibrating lines around it) in a cycle to show the impact as the scene fades.




Now comes a series of blackout gags. First, Yogi tries to get past the bull hiding in a bush on a foreground cell that’s so dirty, the smear slides along with the bush below it. Unfortunately, Yogi sneezes (perhaps he’s allergic to the dirt on the cell). Any effort Carlo expended in animating the individual leaves of the bush flying away is counterbalanced with the same runaway-fly into the bar-squealing pig animation, though this time Yogi ducks under the fence, but is low-bridged by a mailbox.



Next, we get the Lah animation with the big-nosed Yogi sneaking behind the bull and tying its tail to a stake. Yogi teases the bull, even pulling off a horn and blowing into it before replacing it, in a variation of a gag from Texas Tom. We get a little Charlie Shows rhyme—“I wouldn’t give you a bum steer, dear”—before the bull clobbers the bear with the stake.



Shows borrows “hoo, hoo, HOO!” from Mr. Kitzel of the Jack Benny show (and not for the only time) as Yogi comes up with a brainstorm—he decides a blanket and some old cow horns (which he needlessly describes to us) can be used to disguise them as a cow to get past the bull. But the bull falls in love with the “cow” and tries to stop “her” from getting away by stepping on “her” tail. Of course, the disguise slips off, the bull is outraged and the chase is on.

Yogi stops running and instead uses a bullfighter routine on the bull because cartoon law dictates that happens in every cartoon with a bull. Bill Hanna (or whoever) came up with a timing effect that’s an old gag but still works. The bull snares Yogi in its horns, leaving a little square of a makeshift cape. It stays in the air for a little bit then drops innocently to the ground.

The bear and bull crash against a tree—the tree with the beehive, which drops onto the bull’s horns. The bees appear (they actually quickly fade into the scene) and then everyone high-tails it to a lake, with Carlo digging up the bull-chasing-Yogi animation from the two earlier scenes to save a bit of cash.

Yogi and Boo-Boo think they’ve gotten rid of the bull, but it pops out of the water and says “That’s what you think” and begins to laugh. Boo-Boo and Yogi head back under the water before running away, the bull pulls off a horn and empties it of water and remarks “Those crazy, mixed-up bears.” The cameraman (Frank Paiker?) didn’t check the cells properly as one of the laughing bull magically appears for a moment as he’s delivering his final line.

The music appears to have been put together solely from Jack Shaindlin cues in the Langlois Filmusic library distributed by Capitol and we get the same cues over and over. We even get a full version of the ‘circus chase music’ On the Run three times and, naturally, are treated to Toboggan Run. Cinemusic has had the rights to Shaindlin’s stuff for quite some time and it’s a shame the company doesn’t re-release all of it. Aside from six discs on the market, the Langlois music seems to be rare and I’d love to hear from anyone who knows the whereabouts of some of Shaindlin’s library cues that were in cartoons but aren’t available for audition on the internet.

Yowp update: My ecstatic thanks goes to animation writer Earl Kress, who identified the circus chase music from an original Huck cue sheet. And to John K. for his note about Mike Lah.


0:00 - Yogi vocal sub title theme (Curtin, Hanna, Barbera, Shows)
0:14 - LAF-4-6 PIXIE PRANKS (Shaindlin) – Yogi and Boo-Boo follow bee; Yogi meets up with bull.
1:28 - LAF-2-12 ON THE RUN (Shaindlin) – Bull chases Yogi, Yogi flies into barn, rides pig into fence.
1:48 - LAF-4-6 PIXIE PRANKS (Shaindlin) – Yogi hides in bush, sneezes.
2:16 - LAF-2-12 ON THE RUN (Shaindlin) – Bull chases Yogi again, Yogi flies into barn, rides pig into mailbox.
2:37 - LAF-4-6 PIXIE PRANKS (Shaindlin) – Yogi sneaks behind bull.
2:54 - LAF-1-1 FISHY STORY (Shaindlin) – Yogi ties bull’s tail to stake, Bull clobbers Yogi with stake.
4:09 - LAF-7-12 FUN ON ICE (Shaindlin) – Yogi and Boo-Boo disguised as cow, Bull reveals disguise.
5:10 - LAF-2-12 ON THE RUN (Shaindlin) – Bull chases Yogi and Boo-Boo, Bees chase Yogi, Boo-Boo and Bull into lake.
6:38 - LAF-5-20 TOBOGGAN RUN (Shaindlin) – Yogi and Boo-Boo run from bull in lake.
6:59 - Yogi sub end title theme (Curtin).

3 comments:

  1. The other animator is Mike Lah. He does a few scenes in almost every 1st season Huck and Friends cartoon.

    (The frames you have with Yogi, the bull and the horn gag)

    You can tell right away in each cartoon, because the character designs look like his 50s stuff for Tex Avery cartoons and not Carlo Vinci, Ken Muse or any of the other main HB animators.

    ReplyDelete
  2. John, thanks. I hedged my bet and deleted Mike's name before I posted this; someone else thought it was Lah because it looked like his stuff in Pie-Pirates.

    I can see the kind of same kind of drawing in The Stout Trout and Slumber Party Smarty; his characters have those google eyes and seem a lot more crudely done. He liked facing them a certain way so he could hold the character stationary and all that would move was a couple of mouth lines. It just looks like he wanted to bang out the footage and get it over with.

    I have an extremely untrained eye, but even I can pick out Carlo's stuff over Muse's. I haven't studied the second season stuff as much so I'm not sure what traits to watch out for with the animators who came on board that year.

    ReplyDelete
  3. If you want some help figuring out the main HB animators, check out this post:

    http://www.animationarchive.org/2008/09/biography-john-k-on-flintstones.html

    ReplyDelete