Saturday, June 26, 2010

Yogi Bear — Hoodwinked Bear

Produced and Directed by Bill Hanna and Joe Barbera.
Animation – George Nicholas; Layout – Dick Bickenbach; Backgrounds – Art Lozzi; Story – Warren Foster; Story Sketches – Dan Gordon; Titles – Art Goble; Production Supervision – Howard Hanson.
Voice cast: Yogi, Wolf – Daws Butler; Narrator, Boo Boo – Don Messick; Red, Granny – Jean Vander Pyl.
First Aired: week of November 21, 1959.
Plot: Yogi and Boo Boo get mixed up in the story of Little Red Riding Hood.

Here’s another cartoon where all the elements work really well together. George Nicholas provides us with his usual big-mouthed, floppy-tongue and stunned-eye expressions on Yogi. Art Lozzi plants some bizarre trees in the background. Daws Butler brings back his Bilko voice for another shyster wolf, since Warren Foster’s dialogue fits it perfectly. And we get fairy-tale characters somehow living in Jellystone Park.

From Joe and Bill’s standpoint, the best thing is a pile of money is saved at the beginning of the cartoon as the first 18 seconds is taken up with a pan over a background of five signs in the woods, with the camera resting on each sign so Yogi can read it aloud.

You can see Nicholas’ work off the bat. He loved to draw bent fingers and wrists on Yogi (see lower left) but he would also curve the wrists like in this cartoon (see below right) and with Boo Boo in the unfortunately inferior Snow White Bear.


In the opening scene, Yogi is objecting to the ranger’s signs denying him food. “But the ranger will feed us,” says Boo Boo in a novel theory. Yogi is mock-insulted. “As self-sustaining creatures of the wild wood, we shall endeavour to feed ourselves. With a little help from the tourists, of course.”

Just then, the first tourist arrives. Except it’s not a tourist. It’s Little Red Riding Hood, engaging in the little leap-walk cycle that Nicholas loved to use. Lozzi’s greenery in the background is great. I’d love to know how he made that spreading bush.

Here’s Warren Foster at work:


Yogi: And that’s a pretty heavy basket for a little girl to carry.
Boo Boo: Yogi, you’re not going to take the little girl’s basket?
Yogi: Well, uh, no, Boo Boo. I’m just checking a possible violation of the child labour law.

Nicholas decides to have a little fun when Red lists what’s in the basket. See what he does with Yogi what she gets to “pizza pie.” The little-pupilled stare, the wide-open mouth, and the snaky mouth-line are dead giveaways Nick is at work. I wish Yogi—and the other Hanna-Barbera characters—had been as visually expressive in later cartoons.



Yogi gets an idea. He calls Granny from a convenient pay phone, pretending to be a radio contest host, asking her guess the correct answer for six free dance lessons which he tells her must be taken right away. Nicholas gives the bear several different expressions, including this little evil look as he reveals to the camera he’s going to high-tail it to Granny’s place to get the goodies.

The scene cuts to Granny in her sports car. She ain’t no ordinary Granny. “Six free dance lessons. Crazy, man, crazy!” exclaims the old girl. And dig those weird trees Lozzi has behind her. The trunks and branches are all sawed off. Too bad they never appeared in other cartoons (the fir trees in the background with flipped-up branches are pretty common in cartoons Bick laid out).

For those of you not up on your young-actin’ grannies, this one predates the one from Pasadena immortalised in song by about 3½ years and the other immortalised by Precious Pupp by six. The first hep cartoon granny was probably the pint-of-gin-lovin’ one in Tex Avery’s Little Red Walking Hood (1937).

Granny grabs Red off the road to take her to the dance hall.


Red: But, Granny. The basket!
Granny: Oh, scratch that sandwich routine.

In the process, her riding hood comes off and falls onto the road. Boo Boo, who walked away from Yogi to avoid his basket-filching scheme, stumbles across the basket and hood and decides to put on the outfit and surprise Granny with the basket.

More fun now as the wolf enters into the cartoon. Here are some of Nicholas’ expressions.



Here’s Warren Foster at work again. If you know Daws’ Bilko voice, I’ll bet you can hear the dialogue in your head.


Wolf: Here she comes. Red hood, basket, knobby knees, the whole bit! Hey, little girl.
Boo Boo: You called me?
Wolf (stares at Boo Boo): Huh? I’m not sure. (to camera) Shee! What a homely kid. (to Boo Boo) Please, no offence, but are you Red Riding Hood?
Boo Boo: You were expecting maybe Miss America?
Wolf: Oh, boy. Who are these kids nowadays? Full of guff, vinegar and like that. Where are you headed for little, ugh, girl?
Boo Boo: I’m going to Granny’s house with this basket of goodies.
Wolf: Well, I guess you’re legit. You memorised your lines right, anyhow. Very badly read, but well memorised.

After telling the audience the girl looks like a bear, the wolf decides to “play it out” and zips off to Granny’s house. The scene dissolves to Granny’s bed where we get patented Yogi couplets:

Yogi: It’s uncanny, but I’m a granny! Touch not a hair on yon grey head. Just feed me goodies while I’m in bed.

The wolf barges into the house, gets into some granny clothes and gets into bed. But then he hears snoring and pulls back the blanket to reveal Yogi. “Strong family resemblance,” says the wolf. He grabs Yogi and shoves him in a closet (passing by the same lamp and window three times). “Stop! I’m an old lady,” protests Yogi.

Wolf: Oh, boy. Real clock-stoppers, both of ‘em. I don’t know who’s homelier, granny or the kid.


Suddenly the doorbell rings. The wolf zips back into bed. Boo Boo comes in and we start to get the standard dialogue, though the wolf remarks that he isn’t sure he wants to go through with it. And he doesn’t. He decides he’d rather eat the stuff in the picnic basket instead of “Red”. Yogi busts down the closet door. “Oh, no, you don’t!” he cries, as he reveals he’s not a “homely old granny” but a “homely old bear.”


Wolf: Bear? (chuckles) That explains it. You’re in the wrong story, pal. This isn’t the Goldilocks-Bears thing. One was too hot, another too cold, the third was just right, remember? (Yogi nods) There were three of you. Where’s mama bear?

Suddenly, the wolf shakes his head. Granny and Red are at the door.

Wolf: Where were you two? And what’s the idea of goofing off when we’ve got a show to get on the road? Someone should be putting up the 24 sheets. There should be a blaring of trumpets. Let them know we’re coming. Oh, boy. Well, let’s get on with it. Into the closet, granny (door slams). That’s it. Okay, Red, outside. Ring the doorbell. Places, everybody! Action! Roll ‘em!

The last scene has Yogi and Boo Boo eating from the basket as Red and the Wolf play out their standard dialogue.

Yogi: This Little Red Riding Hood is good, good, good!
Boo Boo: I wonder how it comes out.
Yogi: How could it miss with goodies like this? Hey-hey-hey-ee!

The rhyming dialogue strikes me as a weak ending only because Yogi used it so often (and even more so on his own show) that it’s not really a topper. Despite that, this may be my favourite fairy-tale of the early H-B cartoons.

Ranger Smith is referred to in the cartoon, but doesn’t appear in it.

There are a couple of really ineffective music choices here, which is the kind of thing that happens when you’re using stock music. For some reason, a sea-going melody is heard when Yogi is in bed and the wolf walks into the closet. And the fast strings of Geordie Hormel don’t have much relationship to the tale of the Three Bears that the wolf outlines, especially since there’s a mood change from the angry bear to the wolf’s explanation. A better choice would have been a reprise of doodley-do-dee-doo music when Red first appears.


0:00 - Yogi sub-main title theme (Hanna-Barbera-Shows-Curtin).
0:14 - UNTITLED TUNE (Shaindlin) – Yogi complains about “Do Not Feed the Bears” signs.
0:56 - happy muted trumpets (Shaindlin) – Red talks with Yogi.
1:47 - TC-202 ECCENTRIC COMEDY (Loose-Seely) – Yogi on phone to Granny.
2:16 - LAF-5-20 TOBOGGAN RUN (Shaindlin) – Granny in car, grabs Red.
2:38 - L-1139 ANIMATION COMEDY (Moore) – Boo Boo sees basket, Wolf spots calls to Boo Boo.
3:07 - LAF-7-12 FUN ON ICE (Shaindlin) – Wolf-Boo Boo dialogue.
3:56 - TC-300 ECCENTRIC COMEDY (Loose-Seely) – shot of Granny’s House
4:01 - solo flute effect (Phil Green) – “I’m a Granny!”
4:05 - L-1121 ANIMATION NAUTICAL (Moore) – “Touch not a hair...”, wolf goes into closet.
4:23 - PIXIE PRANKS (Shaindlin) – Wolf in bed with Yogi.
4:46 - ZR-52 LIGHT QUIET (Hormel) –Wolf puts Yogi in closet, doorbell rings
5:13 - bassoon and zig-zag trumpets (Shaindlin) – “What big eyes” dialogue.
5:54 - ZR-48 FAST MOVEMENT (Hormel) – Yogi breaks down closet door, Wolf yells “Roll ‘em!”
6:37 - LAF-7-12 FUN ON ICE (Shaindlin) – Doorbell, Yogi and Boo Boo watch Red scene.
6:57 - Yogi sub end title theme (Curtin).

7 comments:

  1. No doubt that George's animation came up trumps for this cartoon. Definitely gave an real cool animated look to whichever short he worked on.

    Also seemed ironic, too, that Yogi actually would be replaced by this Silvers wolf (ala; Hokey) some years later on... ;)

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  2. That Jack Shaindlin muted trumpet cue was used in a Quick Draw where Baba relates [can't remember the title] how they were animal-children and it had to do with cathcing a young wanna bandito, and it winds up like Becky Thatcher and Tom Sawyer [a propertty that HB would take on at the end of the 1960s themsevles!] in a cave, and it's at the end of another proto-"Hokey" Silvers wolf Yogi fairy tale, the Three Pigs one "Oinks and Boinks" as well.I've heard the happy piece elsehwere, but largely in the Quick Draw series.
    Pokey

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  3. I haven't been posted to you lately, I know. Sorry about that.

    Anyway, I actually have NOT lost interest in Hanna-Barbera cartoons. On what I have said in March, I was talking about the cartoons from 1958-1962 (not including Ruff and Reddy), however what I really wanted was plots and transcripts for the cartoons, so thank you for creating this thread for (at least) plots of the cartoons.

    You have been doing pretty good on the blog, and you have come a long way.

    Thank you.

    Ryan

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  4. Nicholas throws in another 'goody' in the final shot: you can actually SEE the food being chewed to pieces by Yogi. Rather gruesome, but effective nonetheless.

    It always cracks me up when Boo-Boo corrects the wolf. "I'm not a little girl. I'm a little Boo-Boo." The wolf's befuddled reaction and response- something along the lines of "You're not kidding!" is hysterical.

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  5. Daws' 'Bilko' voice must have been very easy for him to do, because it probably shows up more than any of his others. Not only as Hokey, but in innumerable incidental characters in H-B, Ward and Lantz cartoons.

    I actually like SNOW WHITE BEAR even more than this cartoon. Also animated by Nicholas, it's a bit more dialogue-heavy. But the dialogue is hilarious as delivered by a refreshingly grouchy Yogi whose attempted hibernation is continually interrupted.

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  6. Howard, I shouldn't write stuff like this off the top of my head, but he isn't the only one who draws that. I'm pretty sure Ken Muse did it during the first season.

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