Produced by Bill Hanna and Joe Barbera.
Animation – Carlo Vinci; Layout – Dick Bickenbach; Backgrounds – Fernando Montealegre; Story – Mike Maltese; Story Sketches – Dan Gordon; Titles – Art Goble; Production Supervision – Howard Hanson.
Voice cast: Doggie Daddy – Doug Young; Augie, Skunk – Daws Butler.
First aired: October 13, 1959.
Plot: Augie befriends a skunk while learning how to hunt birds and Daddy can’t get it out of the house.
Animators, much like the rest of the general population of a certain era, loved the Jack Benny radio show. Many theatrical cartoons of the Golden Age have references to it, some obscured today by the passage of time.
Jack’s writers over the years built up so many traits and secondary characters that, eventually, they had plenty of things to pick from and didn’t need to repeat themselves every week.
One of Jack’s secondary characters sort of found his way into this cartoon, likely for no other reason than Mike Maltese found him funny. “Sort of”, since Maltese doesn’t really use the full character, just a voice and a catch-phrase.
Among one of Benny’s characters was a race track tout, generally played by Sheldon Leonard. What made the bit clever is the tout gave Benny advice on anything but horse races (eg. which Christmas present to buy for a woman) but used race-track terminology to describe his reasons (eg. lingerie is a good show bet). So Jack would be in a store, a train station or some such place, then have a conversation unexpectedly interrupted by someone in a low, quiet tone going “Pssst. Hey, bud. Come here a minute. Whatcha doin’?” It was the tout.
I love the tout idea and his incongruous wordplay and Maltese, no stranger to wordplay, must have, too, because the skunk in this cartoon uses the tout’s catchphrase and confidential voice. But that’s where the similarities end. For the rest of the cartoon, Maltese bends a plot device used by Tex Avery—the guy you can’t get rid of. Avery used it in terms of the cartoon (and Hayes Office) credo that “good overcomes bad because that’s the way things must be” (the same reason Wile E. Coyote’s devices must ultimately fail). Maltese’s plot doesn’t involve some kind of cartoon karma; the skunk is simply determined to stay because he wants a friend.
The cartoon opens the same way as Fox-Hounded Fox—Augie is nagging dear old dad about something until he gets his way with an unexpected gag somewhere along the way. This time, Doggie Daddy promised to teach him to be a bird-dog but has decided now is not a good time because Augie has a cold. Augie won’t listen to logic and hauls out a protest placard. Chuckling Daddy gives in and decides to keep his promise, which is the thread that holds together the whole cartoon. Augie gags the scene by turning around the sign proving he knew all along what the outcome would be. And like in Fox-Hounded Fox, the Daddy home has late ’50s décor and avant garde art, though Bob Givens laid out the earlier cartoon and Bick Bickenbach did this one.
Perhaps Bugs Bunny sold the living room chair to Maltese, who brought it over from Warners to give to Doggie Daddy. Bugs has a similar one in To Hare is Human (1956), designed by Maurice Noble.
So off go the hounds into the woods for a bird-watching lesson. After a huge sneeze bashes Daddy against a tree, the cold-ridden Augie sniffs along the ground and goes right past the nicely-designed skunk who’s at the centre of the picture. Then we get the Benny tout’s catchphase. There are no birds around but the skunk pulls out “a for real, genuine eagle’s egg” (don’t ask why a skunk would be carrying one) and offers to exchange it for something. That’s when the skunk breaks character, goes down on his knees in four drawings and pathetically begs Augie to be his friend, then four drawings later resumes his original calm tout voice and position against the tree. The two make a deal and Augie promises to be his friend. The skunk now starts catching up on information because no one will talk to him, questions like “Did the Dodgers win the pennant? Are they still doin’ the Charleston?” Augie never gets a chance to answer the string of constant questions, as Daddy comes onto the scene, then grabs Augie and runs back inside their modern-furnished home.
The remaining three minutes are full of ubiquity gags. Maltese is sabotaged a bit by the even timing because he tries to structure them a bit. The gags start getting more ridiculous as the situation carries on, like how the skunk comes through the mouthpiece of the decidedly unmodern phone and then through the earpiece when Daddy shoves him back in the phone. Maltese tries an Avery-style build-up by putting the skunk in a jar, then rushes the jar into a garbage can, then drops the can down the well. Then there’s the old pops-up-from-different-drawers gag (while playing chess). And Maltese tosses in a completely goofy gag as the skunk sails in on a paper airplane.
Finally comes the climax gag as Augie actually saws down the wall of the house to let the skunk in. Why? “Because my daddy taught me to always keep my promise.” Doggie Daddy, as you might expect, gives in and allows Augie to keep his promise and overcomes the noxious skunk smell at the end. “When bringin’ up a boy, there are times when if you can’t lick ‘em, join ‘em,” Daddy tells the audience as the iris closes.
Carlo Vinci’s style is pretty evident here. We get a bunch of Vinci head-shakes and a diving exit off camera. And Vinci loved those two-drawing fear shake takes. Here’s one of them. My apologies that the frame grabs are so crappy; I haven’t got a great copy of this cartoon. I’ve slowed it down so you can see the drawings but still get the effect.
This head shake is in a cycle of three drawings. There are three drawings in a six-frame cycle; the head position on the right is held for two frames before the cycle starts again.
The music selection has a couple of oddities. The paper airplane jaunt uses what sounds a lot like a piece of music from the KPM library of England; the Hi-Q ‘L’ series featured at least two reels of music from KPM. There are also short snippets of a quick Jack Shaindlin piece used twice for quick hammering; H-B didn’t often use stock music for an effect like that. The rest of the music is atypical of an Augie cartoon. ‘Fireman’ is an incomplete name; I don’t know the rest of it.
0:00 - Augie Doggie main title theme (Hoyt Curtin).
0:26 - THE HAPPY COBBLER (Hecky Krasnow) – Scene in house with Augie’s signs.
1:11 - GR-258 THE TIN DRAGOONS (Phil Green) – Augie sneezes Daddy into tree; sniffs on ground; passes skunk.
2:27 - CB-87A COME AND GET ME (Bluestone-Cadkin) (Harry Bluestone-Emil Cadkin) – Skunk talks to Augie.
4:11 - LFU 117-3 MAD RUSH No. 3 (Shaindlin) – Daddy grabs Augie and runs into house with him.
4:19 - CB-90 HAPPY HOME (Bluestone-Cadkin) – Daddy and Augie talk about promise, skunk knocks on door.
4:49 - LFU-117-3 MAD RUSH No. 3 (Shaindlin) – Daddy smells skunk, skunk in window.
4:49 - unknown (Shaindlin) – Daddy boards up window.
5:02 - CB-89A ROMANTIC JAUNT (Bluestone-Cadkin) – Daddy smells skunk in fireplace.
5:10 - unknown (Shaindlin) – Daddy bricks up fireplace.
5:15 - GR-248 STREETS OF THE CITY (Green) – Skunk in phone, Daddy tosses skunk down well.
5:55 - jaunty bassoon and skippy strings (Shaindlin) – Daddy peers down well, skunk in dresser.
6:32 - light symphonic music with strings (unknown) – Skunk on paper airplane.
6:42 - ‘FIREMAN’ (Shaindlin) – Augie saws down wall; Daddy in gas mask.
7:11 - Augie Doggie end title theme (Curtin).