Saturday, October 31, 2009

Snooper and Blabber — Switch Witch

Produced and Directed by Bill Hanna and Joe Barbera.
Credits: Animation – Ken Muse; Layout – Dick Bickenbach; Backgrounds – Fernando Montealegre; Story – Mike Maltese; Story Sketches – Dan Gordon; Titles – Art Goble; Production Supervision – Howard Hanson.
Cast: Snooper, Gretel, Marvin, Judge – Daws Butler; Blabber, Witch, Hansel – Elliot Field.
First Aired: week of October 12, 1959.
Production No. J-3.
Plot: Snooper and Blabber testify how they rescued Hansel and Gretel at the trial of the kidnapping witch.

A note from Yowp: Yes, I know you thought for Hallowe’en, I’d run down a cartoon featuring J. Evil Scientist. Sorry. J. Evil Scientist and his one-gag family are on my list of lame H-B characters along with Cindy Bear and Yakky Doodle. Instead, we’ll feature another character appropriate to the season.

It didn’t take long for Mike Maltese to dip into his old oaken bucket into the reservoir of Warner Bros. tricks after arriving at Hanna-Barbera from the Chuck Jones unit. This cartoon combines the plots of a couple of Warners cartoons and Maltese shamelessly lifts a line out of one of them.

First, Maltese borrowed a little more than a pinch of this and a dash of that from Jones’ Bewitched Bunny (1954), written by—surprise!—Mike Maltese, which featured Witch Hazel trying to eat Hansel and Gretel but ends up thwarted by Bugs Bunny. Added to that is the basic plot of Friz Freleng’s The Trial of Mr. Wolf (1941) written by—surprise again!—Mike Maltese, where a wolf testifies in court in his defence against a fairy tale character and makes himself out to be the victim. The character, in that case, is Little Red Riding Hood.

So, now Maltese has his plot. And the cartoon opens with Snooper and Blabber tooling down a city street in their late-‘50s finned car (very similar to the one in their previous effort Puss N’ Booty) as Blabber reads a newspaper headline we can all read for ourselves. The two are set to testify in the trial of a witch, who proclaims her innocence, claiming Hansel and Gretel set her up. One thing Maltese couldn’t borrow from Warners was the voice of Witch Hazel, the wonderful June Foray, so Joe Barbera handed the role to Elliot Field. He sounds a bit like Jonathan Winters doing Maudie Frickert, but it works.


Anyway, the witch begins to weave her tale of two bratty kids who knock at her door while she’s baking a chocolate pie. “How’s about a handout, sister?” Hansel smugly remarks. The witch hands them the pie. They’re not satisfied. Maltese comes up with some oddball substitutes. They want ketchup malts and mustard sundaes. Before throwing the pie back at her face, Hansel sneers “Ahh, your mother rides a vacuum cleaner” proving he must have seen Bewitched Bunny, too, because Maltese put those words in Hansel and Gretel’s mouths to the witch in that cartoon, too. A nice touch before the scene fades out is the sound of the metal pie plate hitting the ground.

We iris in to Hansel and Gretel on the stand. “She tried to make a smorgas-boy out of me,” says the innocent-looking Hansel, and we fade to their version of what happened. The dialogue’s cute here. Field and Daws Butler, as Gretel, read their lines like they’re badly reading a script. “We are lost, kind lady.” “We seek food and shelter.” The witch bids them to come in and take a ride in a “sports car”. She even gives them little sports car-riding caps. The sports car turns out to be a roasting pan with wheels (clever, that old crone), as the witch slams the lid on top and kicks “my little blue plate specials” into an old-fashioned stove. The kids escape through the burner holes and are chased around the house “until Snooper and Blabber Mouse came to our rescue.”


Now we dissolve to Snooper and Blabber on the stand, who relate their version of the events. The next scene is in Snooper’s office, where he kicks the ringing phone off the hook and grabs it. Who rang? And how did they know they were in the witch’s cottage? We’re left to assume the caller probably saw Bewitched Bunny, too. The design choice is really neat here. I like the lines on the stones of the cottage, and in the shutters.


Snooper explains they spotted “a veritable frankenfurter monster.” The witch, upon hearing they’re detectives looking for the missing children, tells them the only one in her home is Marvin, her pet gorilla, which is a little reminiscent of Paul, the pet tarantula of Witch Hazel in Broom-Stick Bunny (1956) written by—need we tell you? The sceptical detectives get a bit of proof.

What now? “Alimentary, me dear Blabber Mouse,” says Snooper. And they run away. But not so fast. They see, and hear, the kids cry for help. Isn’t that a great little attic shot? I wonder if Dick Bickenbach came up with that in layout or Dan Gordon drew it first. Our heroes decide to batter down the door to the cottage. The witch opens the door, the detectives enter the home, and the stove, still carrying the log. They roll out in the wheeled roasting pan and the witch beats a hasty retreat.


Here are a couple of Monty’s interior backgrounds. Not as outrageous as Ernie Nordli and Maurice Noble’s designs for Witch Hazel at Warners, but I really like the broken, crooked stairwell anyway.


We get a nice little French bedroom farce-like chase scene involving the witch, Marvin, the children and Snooper and Blabber over the sounds of Jack Shaindlin’s Toboggan Run. It quickens the pace of the cartoon nicely. First, it’s Snooper and Blabber into a room with the witch. Then it’s the gorilla after the detectives. Then it’s the gorilla after Hansel and Gretel into a room. Then it’s the witch in the roasting pan after the children. Snooper times it perfectly to put the cover on the pan, and the witch, to bring her to justice.

It’s not over yet. Into the room they go, and the gorilla chases Snooper, who tries to hide under a ceiling light.

Blabber: Say, Snoop. What are you doing up there?
Snoop: I’m reading a book because the light is better.


Snooper tells Blab to go down to the cellar, get a saw and saw the gorilla from below. But Blab screws up the instructions and saws around the light from above and Snooper lands on Marvin instead.

So the chase is on again. Snooper and gorilla run into another room. Snooper bolts out and tells Blab to shut the door. He does. There’s a bang. It’s the flattened witch.

While I’m at it, let me apologise for the poor quality screen caps. If WHV would bother to spend the money on music rights and put these out on DVD, I’d be very happy.

Now comes the courtroom climax. The witch demands to bring in a surprise witness. Out she goes and in comes Marvin (the chair at the witness stand has changed somehow in the last few seconds), who testifies “The witch is a sweet old lady. Them kids is guilty.” Hansel indignantly shouts that the gorilla is fibbing “Just like that ugly old witch.”

“Ugly?! Who’s ugly?” says the gorilla, who now has the witch’s voice. And it turns out the witch is really Marvin as she removes her head. She realises her faux pas as the judge declares her guilty. “Well, hee hee, can’t blame a girl for trying,” says the witch philosophically to end the cartoon.

Some of the music selections are a little unusual for a Snooper cartoon, which avoided using tunes by Bill Loose and John Seely. And I don’t believe Toboggan Run was used again; there was other Shaindlin chase music in later cartoons and you can hear some of it here. All Phil Green compositions are the original names from EMI.


0:00 - Snooper and Blabber Main Title theme (Hoyt Curtin)
0:24 - TC-432 HOLLY DAY (Loose-Seely) – Blabber reads headline, witch on stand, flashback to Hansel and Gretel arriving at witch’s cottage.
1:30 - L-1139 ANIMATION COMEDY (Moore) – Hansel and Gretel testify.
1:46 - Suspenceful music (Shaindlin) – Kids put in “sports car”; witch chases them in house.
2:39 - GR-75 POPCORN SHORT BRIDGE (Philip Green) – Snooper and Blabber on the stand, Snoop answers phone.
2:55 - GR-78 CUSTARD PIE CAPERS SHORT BRIDGE (Green) – Snoop and Blab get in car.
3:08 - GR-334 LIGHT AGITATED BRIDGE (Green) – “What’s wrong with a little hero worship?”
3:21 - GR-93 DRESSED TO KILL (Green) – Snooper and Blabber arrive at witch’s cottage, gorilla pounds on Snooper, kids scream for help.
4:31 - F-5-20 TOBOGGAN RUN (Shaindlin) – Battering ram, chase, witch captured in roasting pan.
5:05 - circus music (Shaindlin) – Snooper and Blabber carry pan.
5:27 - vaudeville music (Shaindlin) – Snoop hides in light, Blab saws down Snoop.
6:04 - circus music reprise (Shaindlin) – Snoop runs from gorilla; witch runs into door.
6:19 - GR-90 THE CHEEKY CHAPPIE (Green) – “Excuse me, madame”, Witch demands to bring in surprise witness.
6:37 - GR-96 BY JIMINY! IT’S JUMBO (Green) – Gorilla testifies, Hansel cries “liar.”
6:55 - GR-77 CUSTARD PIE CAPERS (Green) – Witch reveals she’s gorilla.
7:09 - Snooper and Blabber end title theme (Curtin).

Monday, October 26, 2009

Nick and Bick and Model Sheets

There’s something attractive about model sheets and pencil tests, when you can look at cartoon characters and see how they’re created from geometric shapes, without backgrounds, sounds or anything else to distract you.

This is about as good a place as any to put in a plug for
Kevin Langley’s blog, which features model sheets and other fun cartoon stuff.

Someone awhile ago was selling model sheets that were billed as being from the George Nicholas collection. Nick’s obit from a Pennsylvania newspaper, likely the source of an L.A. Times story a couple of days later, may not be altogether accurate.


George Nicholas, 85.
Worked as an animator for Walt Disney.
George “Nick” Nicholas, 85, of Edinboro, formerly of Los Osos, Calif., died Saturday, Nov. 23, 1996, at his home.
He was born in Vermilion, Ohio, Dec. 14, 1910, son of the late Isaac William and Frances Hatch Nicholas. Mr. Nicholas’ family moved to Los Angeles when he was 10 years old. He was hired as an animator at the Walt Disney Studios in 1931. He was an animator for Hanna Barbera, Chuck Jones, and many others including Walt Disney. He was honored for 50 years of service to the cartoon industry at the Motion Picture Screen Cartoonist Guild Golden Awards banquet in 1986. Among his accomplishments are screen credit on the Disney features “Lady and the Tramp,” “Cinderella,” “Sleeping Beauty,” Church [sic] Jones’ “Riki Tiki Tavi” and “The White Seal,” and also the 1971 Academy Award-winning animated version of “The Christmas Carol.” Mr. Nicholas was also a painter and wood sculptor.
He was preceded in death by his wife of 56 years, Dorothy McMannamy Nicholas; a sister, Mary; and three brothers, Fred, John and Bill. Survivors include his daughter, Donna, with whom he resided; two nieces, Lynn Nicholas of Salt Lake City, Utah, and Marjorie Jane Albin of Sacramento, Calif.; three nephews, Jack and Bill Nicholas of Los Angeles, and Fredrick M. Nicholas of San Francisco, Calif.; two brothers-in-law; and many friends.
Calling hours will not be observed. Funeral services will be held Wednesday at 11 a.m. at the Thompson-Smith Funeral Home, 345 Main St., Conneaut, with the Rev. Clyde A. McGee of the Good Shepherd Lutheran Church officiating. Burial will be at Kelloggsville Cemetery. Memorials may be made to the Conneaut Station No. 3 Rescue Squad.

The factoid about “Disney in 1931” may be a trifle premature. Nick appeared on credits at the Lantz studios in the mid-30s, and he’s even in a staff picture circa 1933 found in Joe Adamson’s biography on “the other Walt.” He seems to have moved to Disney by 1939-40, then on to Hanna-Barbera in time to work on the first season of Quick Draw McGraw. So he wasn’t at H-B when the models of the studio’s first stars, Ruff and Reddy, were drawn.


I strongly suspect the sheets are by Dick Bickenbach, who drew these model sheets of Quick Draw and Baba Looey (they are signed “Bick”).


Richard Frederick Bickenbach was born in Indiana to Fred and Emma Bickenbach on August 9, 1907 but spent his boyhood in Freeport, Illinois, in an eight-room home at 124 North Green Avenue at Douglas. The family (Bick had a younger sister, Lois) moved to Glendale in October 1922 where he went to high school before studying art at Chouinard. In the 1930s, he found employment animating for Ub Iwerks (he was there by 1933) and then at Schlesinger/Warner Bros. under Friz Freleng, then in Frank Tashlin’s unit before moving over to MGM in 1946. He replaced Harvey Eisenberg doing layouts for Hanna and Barbera then moved with them to their studio 11 years later.
Animation wasn’t Dick’s sole interest. He was a baritone and sang on KTBI in Los Angeles while a teenager in 1926. It’s conceded he provided a Frank Sinatra-style singing voice in Tashlin’s Swooner Crooner (1944). To my not-exactly-trained ear (and I’ll stand corrected), it sounds like him again in Tex Avery’s Little ’Tinker (1948) when the two of them were at M.G.M. His wife Dorothy Mae Baker was a singer as well. They married in October 1933, likely due to their involvement in the Grandview Presbyterian Church in Glendale where they both worked with the children’s choir. He was a soloist at an installation ceremony of Tujunga Chapter of the Order of the Eastern Star in 1949 (a co-ed group connected with the Masons); Dorothy was a member of the Star but the Grand Lodge of California reports Bick was not a Mason.
Newspaper clippings also show an interest in photography and he won a photo contest sponsored by the L.A. Times in 1938.
Bick is reported to have had a quote of Mark Twain on his wall at Hanna-Barbera: “Truth is such a precious article. Let us all economize in its use.”
During the ‘30s and ’40s, Bickenbach lived at 1161 Rosedale Avenue in Glendale. Perhaps coincidentally, that address (actually 1161B) was, in 2003, the home of an animation studio where The Toy Warrior was produced.
Bick retired to Palm Desert in 1975 where he and Dorothy continued to be active in church work, and then moved into a retirement home in Redlands in 1984. He died in San Bernardino on June 28, 1994.

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).

Saturday, October 17, 2009

Sir Huckleberry Hound

Produced and Directed by Bill Hanna and Joe Barbera.
Credits: Animation – Lew Marshall; Layout – Walt Clinton; Backgrounds – Bob Gentle; Dialogue and Story Sketches – Charlie Shows and Dan Gordon; Titles – Art Goble; Production Supervision – Howard Hanson.
Cast: Huck, Fat Knight – Daws Butler; Slim the Horse, Damsel – Don Messick.
Released: week of Monday, October 20, 1958.
Plot: In the days of chivalry, Huck tries to rescue a damsel in distress, only to wish he hadn’t.

Praise is heaped upon Ed Benedict and Dick Bickenbach for their character and layout designs in the earliest Hanna-Barbera shows. Lost in the shuffle is a man who is really the star of this particular cartoon, a veteran of the animation business named Walt Clinton.

There isn’t a lot of information about Clinton out there. Years ago, Animato did a profile of him in an issue before I was a subscriber so I have no idea what it revealed. What you see below is what I’ve gleaned off the internet and would ask anyone who can add anything else about him to leave a comment.

Walter F. Clinton was born in St. Louis on October 1, 1906. He took a correspondence course in art from the Federal Schools in Minneapolis (as did Charles M. Schulz), was at Disney by 1937 and animated on Pinocchio. He left after the strike in ’41 and apparently ended up serving somewhere in World War Two because we don’t find him again until 1945 in the Avery unit at MGM, where he stayed until the studio closed. He mostly animated, but he also designed character models for a couple of cartoons, including an odd-looking flea in What Price Fleadom. He moved to Hanna-Barbera when it opened, worked on The Flintstones and Jonny Quest, then apparently left the business after designing layouts on the Cattanooga Cats in 1969. Clinton retired to Sun City, Arizona, where he died on January 15, 1992. Somewhat ironically, his old boss Avery posted an office door sign that read “Sun City” upon arrival at Hanna Barbera (Clinton had left by then).

Clinton has another H-B connection I’ll get to after we look at our cartoon.

He designed a great opening castle-filled background (constructed by ex-MGMer Bob Gentle) which, in rather atypically, is panned over left to right while Don Messick’s narration sets up the story.



Charlie Shows cleverly cobbles together a mock poem:

In days of old when knights were bold
And knighthood was in flower
Men rescued damsels in distress
From lonely castle towers.


The first line comes from the title of a 19th century song and the second line comes from the title of an 1898 book by Charles Major.

The poem ends:

And the bravest knight the world around
Was one Sir Huckleberry Hound.


That’s the cue for Huck to enter on a fun-looking, droopy-eyed horse, with castles in the background (okay, it’s the same castle Huck passes twice). He stops to read a sign we can see for ourselves and then read a want ad we can read on our own—‘Damsel in Distress. Apply Hassle Castle.’ At that moment, we hear a cry for help and Huck—who has a sharp-tipped nose for some reason—looks up at a window in a tower and sees a hand waving a handkerchief. Off goes Huck to the rescue with a rhyme: “Yon fair damsel, have no fear. Sir Huckleberry Hound is here” (evidently, the creators of Underdog were listening to this cartoon).


We cut to another great design of Clinton’s. It’s a lumpy villain, or as the narrator put it, “this cruel, vicious, dastardly, horrible, fat knight.” “Fat!” indignantly exclaims the knight in Daws’ Gleason voice, turning to the camera and taking exception to the description. You’ll notice Marshall cocks his head at an angle; he does this with a number of front-view poses. This scene sets up the cartoon, as Huck tries to get into the castle while the fat knight tries to keep him out.

The gags all have a familiar feel for any Warner Bros. fan but the humour’s not too tired because of Clinton’s designs. First, the knight raises the drawbridge as Huck charges toward the castle. Huck and his horse predictably land in the moat and the end result is the hero getting rid of the water from his bedraggled-looking steed (the little “oof”s Messick adds as the horse are a nice touch). And we get another of Charlie Shows’ little rhyming twosomes that he loved littering these cartoons with: “Why didn’t you tell a feller you couldn’t swim, Slim?”

The damsel interrupts the scene with her cries and hanky-waving, so Huck casually strolls to the edge of the moat and demands the knight to drop the drawbridge. You know what joke’s coming next because you saw it in Knighty Knight Bugs. If you didn’t, you’ve got plenty of time to guess it because it takes Bill Hanna comparatively forever to get there, unlike Friz Freleng’s quick pace and perfect timing that won an Oscar. First, we cut to the knight talking. Then we cut to a lever with a sign ‘Draw Bridge. Up. Down’ as the knight yacks some more. Then the knight’s arm pulls the lever. Finally, the drawbridge lands on Huck. It takes ten seconds. It would have been funnier if it had smashed on top of Huck as he was speaking. But the H-B TV cartoons had a very casual, even pace to them which made the humour a little less funny than it could have been.

Huck is left as a can of sardines.




Next, Huck tries a ladder to scale the wall, but the ladder isn’t long enough and he lands in the moat. Now the mangy horse “oofs” the water out of Huck.



We get a weird gag in the next scene. First, the Flintstone-ish fat knight drops a cannon ball on Huck, who’s in a rowboat with a ladder. The boat, ladder and Huck sink, but then for no particular reason, the ladder floats up on its own into the sky (accompanied by Huck and with a snare drum roll in the background). Apparently, Shows thought the inconcruity was enough for a gag. The knight is ready with “a peachy anvil. Right heavy, too” which is handed to Huck, who again drops into the moat.



Huck double-dog dares the knight to a jousting match. The knight obliges on a block-shaped black horse that turns out to be a steam-roller.



A catapult is the next weapon of choice (as Huck casually reads a newspaper). Unfortunately, his attack comes as the knight is eating a bowl of peas. The impact of the rocks on the castle wall shakes the peas out of the hungry bad guy’s spoon (five times in cycle animation to pad for time).



The knight walks out to retaliate.



If drag worked for Bugs Bunny, then Huck probably figured it’ll work for him. And it does. The knight asks for a kiss. Huck obliges in a typical cartoon manner after the obligatory request to “close your eyes.”



With the knight out of commission, Huck strolls to the tower to rescue the damsel, who turns out to be an ugly, scrawny crone that throws herself at him. Huck reacts to the camera. Then he locks himself in the tower, waves a hanky out the window and yells for anyone to save him “from a fate worse than death” as our cartoon ends.



We get some really fitting bits of mood music here, mainly thanks to Capitol Hi-Q’s speciality ‘X’ series, with three cues off X-9 Locale-Adventure. Geordie Hormel wrote 12 Olde English-sounding themes on it and three appear here; one is used at the start to set up the damsel rescue. We get a Bill Loose-John Seely thumping power-cue for the steam-roller bit. And there’s an appearance of the really weird Spencer Moore ‘Pop Goes the Weasel’-laced tick-tock music bed as the knight walks to Huck to clobber him with the mace.

Oh, yes, Walt Clinton’s other H-B connection. It may simply be coincidental, but the man who designed this cartoon’s Flintstonish knight died in 1992, leaving behind a widow. Her name was Wilma.


0:00 - Huck sub main title theme (Hoyt Curtin)
0:26 - EM-147 MAIN TITLE DOCUMENTARY (Phil Green) – Shot of castles; Huck sees castle sign.
0:51 - ZR-126 PERIOD ENGLISH MAIN TITLE (Hormel) – Huck hears cries, reads paper.
1:31 - ZR-127 PERIOD CHASE (Hormel) – Knight enters, raises drawbridge.
2:03 - TC 301 ZANY WALTZ (Loose-Seely) – Huck de-waters horse, drawbridge falls on Huck, Huck lands in water, Horse de-waters Huck.
3:12 - L-1158 ANIMATION COMEDY (Moore) – Bassoon effect over “Shuckin’s” line.
3:19 - L-1121 ANIMATION NAUTICAL (Moore) – Cannon ball dropped on Huck.
3:42 - F-10-7 GROTESQUE No 2 (Shaindlin) – Knight hands Huck anvil, Huck challenges Knight to combat.
4:12 - TC-221A HEAVY AGITATO (Loose-Seely) – Knight rolls over Huck, Huck uses catapult on castle.
5:15 - L-992 ANIMATION CHILDREN (Moore) – Knight walks out of castle; hits Huck with mace.
5:28 - ZR-103 PERIOD MAIN TITLE (Hormel) – Huck disguises as damsel, Knight takes him into castle.
6:02 - ZR-52 LIGHT QUIET (Hormel) – Knight asks for kiss; gets socked; Huck rescues ugly damsel; locks himself in tower.
7:10 - Huck sub end title theme (Curtin)