Saturday, October 24, 2009

Yogi Bear — Be My Guest Pest

Produced and Directed By Bill Hanna and Joe Barbera.
Animation – Carlo Vinci; Layout - Dick Bickenbach; Background - Bob Gentle?; Dialogue and Story Sketches – Charlie Shows and Dan Gordon; Titles – Art Goble; Production Supervision – Howard Hanson. (No credits on cartoon).
Cast: Yogi, Ranger 2, Ranger 3 (Smith), Cop 1 – Daws Butler; Newton, Lily Belle, Ranger 1, Trucker, Cop 2 – Don Messick.
Released: January 15, 1959.
Plot: Yogi visits a henpecked Jellystone tourist in New York but pretends to be a rug so the man’s wife won’t find out.

Nagging wives were sure-fire laugh-getters in G-rated days gone bye. They harassed W.C. Fields in movies like It’s a Gift. Wallace Wimple, played by Bill Thompson, somewhat wistfully spoke of his on Fibber McGee and Molly.

And they inhabited the world of cartoons, too. Bob Clampett saddled Daffy with one in The Henpecked Duck (1941). It seems to me one was found in every Modern Madcap at Paramount starting about 1960 (TV Fuddlehead comes to mind because it appeared on TV endlessly when I was a kid). And Joe and Bill and writer Charlie Shows dredged one up for this funny little short.

Granted, there’s some H-B borrowing here. Don Messick—and I really love his work in this cartoon—brought out his Wimple-style voice. And the ending owes an awful lot of the UPA short The Unicorn in the Garden (1953), based on the James Thurber story. But it’s still fun watching Yogi turn into a hypocrite, hear Messick screech in falsetto over top of a goofy ‘50s character design and see the battle-axe get hers in the end.

Since this cartoon’s from the first season of The Huckleberry Hound Show, Yogi is free from his Warren Foster-imposed format that shackled him with Ranger Smith and Boo Boo in Jellystone Park. Yogi’s solo in this, though Jellystone is the initial setting. As the cartoon opens, we watch Yogi watching camera-clad tourists fawn over some hammy unidentified ursine co-habitants.


Note the trees in the background. There seem to be a couple of different ways evergreens are designed in these early Yogi cartoons. There are those with turned-up green branches. But others, like in this cartoon, feature branches made with zig-zag brush strokes, some with a triangular block of colour to outline them. Someone who knows can tell me if that’s a responsibility of the layout designer, the background artist or both.

“Just plain re-dick-uh-less. What a bunch of show-offs!” complains Yogi, and he moans about their corny poses. That is, of course, until Newton Figley interrupts his griping and asks permission to take his picture. Suddenly, any talk of “being ashamed I’m a bear” halts and Yogi assumes some hammy poses himself.







Newton hands Yogi a card and tells him “If you’re ever in town, drop in for a visit.” The scene is stopped by the little man’s shouting wife, Lily Belle, who berates him to hurry so they don’t miss a train, then tells him she hopes he hasn’t been inviting everyone over for a visit like he always does. “Yes, pet. I mean, no, pet.”

Yogi looks at the card (222 Tudor Terrace, New York City) and decides to visit. Carlo Vinci starts him off with the jaunty bongo walk before the bear tries to hitch a ride (after hiding from a pair of Vinci’s furrow-browed characters, Rangers in this case).

He gets a ride from a trucker with an atypical Hanna-Barbera design, who kicks him out when Yogi reveals he’s a real bear. Yogi reveals his origins as well, remarking “Shee, what a grouch!” a la Art Carney as the camera fades.

We never learn how Yogi gets to New York, which is too bad because Shows missed a chance at some gags. But our next scene opens with a shot of the skyline. There’s no background credit on the cartoon so I don’t know who did the layout or construction on this drawing, but it’s a great design. Look at the colour change to simulate a shadow.

Yogi knocks on the door and rings the bell. Newton lets him in and not only doesn’t recognise the bear, he doesn’t remember inviting him. Once again, the call of the wife interrupts their conversation, and Newton tells Lily Belle mustn’t find him. So Yogi disguises himself as a bear rug.

Lily Belle pounds the poor bear with a broom then orders Newton to vacuum him because the “rug” is “filthy.” So that’s what the little guy does. He somehow doesn’t suck Yogi’s hat into the vacuum but he apparently does with the spots on the bear’s nozzle because they keep appearing and disappearing.




The broom-pounding footage gets re-used before Lily Belle bashes Yogi outside their apartment window before tossing “this moth-eaten old antique” in the washer. The wash cycle stops a couple of times for us to get a look at the bear inside, punctuated by the bell-clank sound effect that got a work-out on a lot of Hanna-Barbera cartoons. Then, it’s literally through the ringer.



Lily Belle complains the bear is “mighty lumpy” and jumps on it with her heels (as Yogi’s muzzle dots appear and disappear again in a close-up). The timid Newton can’t bear to watch the violence but is such a wuss he won’t stop it and even agrees with her when she complains “it’s still lumpy.”

“Some rug. It’s not only mangy, but look at that head! Did you ever see such a stupid-looking face?” Yogi’s finally had enough and pipes up that she has just insulted a guess. Messick outdoes himself here. I can only imagine the strain on his vocal chords, but he makes it sound effortless when he shrieks as Lily Belle “That rug is alive!” and runs off yelling for the police. It’s a real tour de force of comic acting by Messick here and it’s one of my favourite one-shot roles of his.



Yogi decides “That’s my cue to skidoo.” At that moment, a helicopter from Jellystone containing Ranger Smith (with a different design and voice) flies overhead. Apparently, Jellystone isn’t as far from New York as you think. Anyway, this version of Ranger Smith spots Yogi signalling with his hat and picks him up with a ladder attached to the chopper.



Meantime, two identical cops enter the apartment and Lily Belle exclaims that a live bear is on the terrace. The cops find nothing (except that they’ve somehow gained the same Daws Butler voice because of a dialogue error). The officers haul away Lily Belle, presumably to the nut hatch. “Newton!” she wails, “Say something!”

The henpecked husband, presumably casually reading the newspaper during all the commotion, happily replies, “Okay. Goodbye, pet” and chuckles to the camera as the cops do his dirty work and the iris closes.

There are no great surprises in the background music here; it’s all familiar stuff from the Hi-Q and Langlois libraries.


0:00 - Yogi main title theme (Hanna-Barbera-Shows-Curtin)
0:14 - ZR 51 LIGHT ANIMATION (Geordie Hormel) – Yogi watches ‘camera hogs’ then gets picture taken.
1:12 - TC 300 ECCENTRIC COMEDY (Bill Loose-John Seely) – Wife screeches, Newton and wife walk away.
1:35 - TC 202 ECCENTRIC COMEDY (Loose-Seely) – Yogi reads card, hitches ride, kicked out of truck.
2:51 - TC 301 ZANY WALTZ (Loose-Seely) – “Shee, watch a grouch”; Yogi-Newton dialogue; wife screeches.
3:49 - TC 300 ECCENTRIC COMEDY (Loose-Seely) – Yogi pretends to be rug; vacuumed.
4:27 - L-81 COMEDY UNDERSCORE (Spencer Moore) – Yogi banged against outside wall, washed, jumped on, yells at wife.
5:47 - PIXIE PRANKS (Jack Shaindlin) – wife runs, Yogi rescued from terrace, Wife hauled to booby hatch.
6:58 - Yogi end title theme (Curtin).

8 comments:

  1. Daws had once said that he could do the Thompsonesque Droopy/Newton character only if he held his cheek with his right thumb and forefinger and spoke the dialog. But he had only raves for Don Messick's ability to do that voice with no set up. Don also did the character type as a hunter in another early Yogi short" Tally Ho Ho Ho "

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  2. Dodsworth,

    The layout, the animation and the backgrounds on this Yogi Bear episode are familiar to me.
    Dick Bickenbach did the layout.
    The animation was made by Lewis Marshall (and not by Carlo Vinci).
    The backgrounds seem which were made by Fernando Montealegre.

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  3. Correction: Lewis Marshall animated great part of this episode, but Carlo Vinci only animated that part where Yogi makes the jaunty bongo walk.

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  4. According to whom or what? If you're going to make statements like this, please quote a definitive source.

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  5. Dodsworth,

    I was doing this quotes thru their artistic styles.

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  6. Dodsworth,

    One more detail: in the scene where Yogi's doing a variety of poses for Mr. Figley taking pictures of him, I could notice that this scene was animated by Michael Lah (due to the Tex Avery-esque gags which Yogi makes).

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  7. And about the variety of poses which Yogi makes, he askes to Mr. Figley: "What about a Salome's pose?"

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  8. Say what? Yogi's spiel is:

    "How's about something informal? Here's a snappy bit. Ya like gag stuff? This routine's kinda cute. You go in for close-ups? Dig the photo-genius profile. I got a million of them friend."

    There's nothing about Salome. Odd you should mention her, though, as I've made a reference to her in a post about a cartoon coming next month.

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