Saturday, January 23, 2010

Pixie and Dixie — Jiggers .. It’s Jinks!

Produced and Directed by Bill Hanna and Joe Barbera.
Credits: Animation – Lew Marshall; Layout – Ed Benedict; Backgrounds – Bob Gentle; Dialogue and Story Sketches – Charlie Shows and Dan Gordon; Titles – Art Goble; Production Supervision – Howard Hanson.
Cast: Pixie – Don Messick; Dixie, Jinks, Boss – Daws Butler, Bullet (no voice).
Released: November 20, 1958.
Plot: The mice help Jinks get back his security guard job after he is replaced by a speedier cat named Bullet.

We’ve talked about distinctive walk cycles before, with Yogi Bear’s bongo walk provided by Carlo Vinci probably the best known. Carlo seems to have loved odd walks and runs; he used an angular run in at least two Augie Doggie cartoons, Watchdog Augie and Snagglepuss.

This time, a watchcat has the unusual walk cycle and, if the credits are to be believed, it’s not Carlo who is responsible but Lew Marshall. Mr. Jinks plays a night guard and slowly shuffles along in twelve drawings on twos. It’s a great little cycle, and it was never used again. But then again, Jinks was never like he was in this cartoon again.

Indeed, this entry is quite different than most of the early Pixie and Dixies. Jinks is not only slow but has a great rumpled design from Ed Benedict. Even his hat is slovenly. He has a job. He and the meece are, more or less, friends. And it doesn’t take place in a house. It’s in a cheese factory.

The slow-for-one-cartoon Jinks seems to be a case of Hanna and Barbera dragging out a concept from their MGM days and adapting it. In Old Rockin’ Chair Tom (1948), the mammy character replaces “slowing down” Tom as the house cat with a faster one. Jerry helps Tom get his mouse-chasing job back. The plot borrowing may also account for the rare appearance of a human in this cartoon.

Bob Gentle must have loved nighttime blues and blue-greens. He swathed the Huck cartoon Skeeter Trouble with them and he’s done it here in the first pan shot of the outside of the factory. We get an inside pan as the narrator that Charlie Shows loved to use sets up the premise.


The mice are living in (and eating) a piece of cheese and “slow-motion Jinks” gives them a friendly wave. “But this set-up is too good to last,” says Dixie. The narrator chuckles “You are so right, Dixie.” There’s a shot of a door buzzer and then of a baggy-eyed cat and a baggy-eyed boss. Jinks lopes his way to the entrance. The boss announces to Jinks he’s fired: “I want a speedy mouse catcher around here.” So Jinks cycle-shuffles out the front entrance (though Jinks now has a sad expression instead of the happy one the first time). But the boss has a warning for Bullet, Jinks’ replacement. “If I see one mice around here, you’re through.”



“I wonder why they call him bullet,” Pixie ponders. He finds out quickly. We get lots of streaking brush lines here as the cat turns, zips out of the scene, then zooms past the meece, collecting them in the process. The shot of the mice and bullet is on ones. Here are consecutive frames.



We get the whizzing brush strokes in reverse a few frames later and then cut to Bullet at the entrance, drop kicking Pixie and Dixie. There’s a shot of the sad Jinks watching the off-screen trajectory overhead and then a thump. “You keep those mice out, and you’re in,” says the Boss to the saluting cat. Pixie and Dixie then decide to help get Jinks his job back.

The first plan involves Jinks pretending to be a mailman—he even says “Mail Man” slowly as if they’re two separate word—then shuffling toward (this time, in a different cycle, using ten drawings on twos) the factory with a parcel. Bullet simply presses an electric beam, which zaps the parcel and the disguise off Jinks. He runs away from the factory screaming while the mice, with their feet sticking out the parcel, make a run for it inside. Bullet collects them in a bit of re-used animation and drop kicks the parcel.



Next comes the old teeter-board routine. Jinks jumps on one end and the mice go over the stone wall. But Bullet is ready with a teeter-board and a garbage can on the other side. The mice land in the garbage can, then Bullet jumps on the board which springs the garbage can onto the teeter-board onto the other side. The force lifts Jinks into the air and into the can. The expressions are really clear, even though the animation is limited. Jinks looks like he’s turned into one of those ghosts in Pac-Man. “Any more bright ideas, bright eyes?” the angry Dixie says to Jinks as we get about a four-second hold on the scene.




Jinks looks more like a fox than a cat as he throws a bowling ball, with the meece inside, toward the entrance. The ball rolls into a cannon which Bullet has psychically placed in its path. He fires the cannon and then we get a Tex Avery gag used in cartoons like Wages to Riches (1949), Ventriloquist Cat (1950). The ball goes right through Jinks and leaves a hole. “Well, what do you know? I’m air conditioned,” Jinks observes.



A slingshot is the next mode of transport but as Dixie heads toward an open second-floor window, Bullet arrives with a baseball glove to catch him and his own slingshot. “Quick trip, wasn’t it?” says the mouse before he is shot back. So is the gag—it takes about 25 seconds of screen time. Jinks’ next brainstorm is that Bullet can’t catch two mice at the same time. So as Pixie and Dixie get ready and set to sprint into the factory. Before Jinks can say “go,” a flyswatter comes out of nowhere and crushes the mice. There’s now a medium shot of Bullet with a fly swatter and Jinks. “Chuck-le, chuck-le,” says the goofy-expressioned cat, instead of laughing. “What do you know? Two wit’ one blow.”

The crafty mice now come up with their own plan. They paint a rocket with a nose, eyes and a mousie grey colour (and attach ears). “Put plenty of glue on it, Pixie,” says Dixie. In case the viewer is slower than Jinks at the start of the cartoon and don’t catch on, the tube reads ‘GLUE.’ Jinks now goes into a circus ringmaster routine, though it’s odd considering all the circus-sounding music that was used in H-B cartoons, the decision was made to use one of Spencer Moore’s repetitious frolicking oboe pieces, which continues until it’s faded out at the end of the short and doesn’t really help build the climax scene too well. “Ladies and gentlemen,” cries Jinks. “Announcing the world’s fastest mouse!” That gets Bullet’s attention. The “mouse” whooshes past Bullet, and the speedy cat takes off in a blur. But the plan works. Jinks and the meece relate to us what’s happening off camera; Bullet catches the “mouse. “You mean the mouse got him,” corrects Dixie (yes, it is Dixie, even though Daws Butler’s voice is coming out of both mice). Bullet can’t let go, thanks to the glue and is flying in the air. Conveniently to the plot, the boss happens to show up. “Stop, or...” he yells at Bullet, putting his hand up for emphasis. But he can’t finish the sentence because Bullet knocks him down. The boss turns and hollers to him that he’s fired.

So Jinks has his job back. But instead of thanking the meece, he drop-kicks them out of the scene. “You don’t want me to lose my job, do ya?” says the incredulous, though still rumpled, cat. “From now on, just call me ‘Lightning.’” That cat goes to run away but we get a prat-fall instead. “Aw, what’s the use?” he says in close-up as the camera fades.



Very few pieces of music were used in this short. I’ve always like this particular Hoyt Curtin arrangement of the opening theme; it wasn’t used often. The rest of the music is from the Capitol Hi-Q library. Jack Shaindlin’s music is not to be found here, though some of his cues used in many other cartoons might have been better picks.


0:00 - Pixie and Dixie triangle/tuba main title theme (Curtin).
0:27 - ZR-51 LIGHT MOVEMENT (Geordie Hormel) – Jink meets boss and Bullet.
1:34 - TC-303 ZANY COMEDY (Bill Loose-John Seely) – Jinks fired, mice vow to get Jinks his job.
2:50 - TC-202 ECCENTRIC COMEDY (Loose-Seely) – Mailman and teeter-board gags.
4:10 - TC-201 PIXIE COMEDY (Loose-Seely) – Bowling ball, slingshot and fly swatter gags.
5:37 - L-1154 ANIMATION COMEDY (Spencer Moore) – Mice paint rocket to look like mouse, Bullet glued to mouse, Jinks gets reinstated, Mice kicked out.
7:10 - Pixie and Dixie end title theme (Curtin).

5 comments:

  1. Look at that irrelevant title card. Hanna Barbera was usually pretty good about avoiding that sort of thing!

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  2. It's almost like this cartoon was originally conceived as a vehicle for the slouchy Huckleberry of "Hookey Days", but was retrofitted for Jinks! Either way, it sure reminds me of Tex Avery's whistling Southern wolf character.

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  3. I agree with Dan. Mr. Jinx does have the " Wolf " stance that they also gave to Huck in " Hookey Daze ". Probably in the situation with Huck, it WAS a tribute to Tex seeing that Daws did both voices.

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  4. I'm with Dan as well. It's OBVIOUS what the influnce was, as well as that on later shorts like "Mouse Nappers" and "Lend Lease Meece" as to a certain cat.

    Steve C.

    PS: The title card AND title itself have NOTHING to do with the cartoon!

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  5. Dan, the Avery connection may not be a surprise as Mark Christiansen mentioned Mike Lah worked on this cartoon. I was hoping Mark would pop back in and reveal if that was part of Lah's work.

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