Saturday, December 4, 2010

Yogi Bear — Bewitched Bear

Produced and Directed by Bill Hanna and Joe Barbera.
Animation – Don Patterson; Layout - Tony Rivera; Backgrounds - Bob Gentle; Story – Warren Foster; Titles – Art Goble; Production Supervision – Howard Hanson (no credits).
Voice Cast: Yogi, grey shirt tourist – Daws Butler; Boo Boo, Circle-shirt tourist, Ranger – Don Messick; Winnie Witch – Jean Vander Pyl.
First Aired: week of January 18, 1960.
Plot: Yogi steals a witch’s broom to steal picnic baskets from the sky.

Note: Thanks to Scott for sending a TV bug-free version of the title card.

The canny sub-text enveloped within the demimonde of animated cartoons manifests itself in an unexpected locality in the seven-minute prescient wonder known as Bewitched Bear. For obscured within its unassuming frames is an entreaty anticipating the tumult and result of the activist movement within the angst-filled decade to come—a plaintive plea for equality.

For within this modestly-drawn television morsel for children is found a witch—traditionally a victim of bigotry culminating in conflagratory violence. To further metaphorically emphasize her minority status, her hue is not a gleaming Middle America white, but a drab olive green. Nevertheless, and remarkably, her fellow characters on the glowing black-and-white screen of 1960 treat her as one of them, as if she belonged with them cavorting in a national park, instead of accepting those social mores which dictate she be confined to a separate existence far away in the brooding, unseen underworld

With benign cleverness, William Hanna and Joseph Barbera have embedded in what is ostensibly a seven-minute comedy, a lofty clarion call to cast aside prejudice and reject hate, symbolically through Jellystone Park (representing the world); Yogi Bear (representing humanity) and green (representing racial discrimination) Winnie Witch (representing intolerance).

OK, maybe it doesn’t. But you can read just about anything into just about anything. And use lots of fancy talk while doing it, too.

Other than some of the background work, the best part of the cartoon is Don Messick’s absolute deadpan delivery of Ranger Smith’s lines. My favourite is two-thirds of the way in. Yogi has switched brooms with a vacationing witch and has been using hers to swoop down on picnic baskets. The Ranger gets a call.


Smith: Hmm. I think I know who’s behind this. (shot of Ranger walking) It really burns me up. You trust ‘em, and they let you down every time.
Yogi: Oh, oh. Here comes the ranger. And I’m caught red-handed with the flyin’ broom. (Yogi starts sweeping the ground) Greetings, Mr. Ranger. Just tidying up the forest, sir. Gets mighty dusty in the dry season.

Everyone watching has been conditioned to know the Ranger thinks Yogi’s responsible. But writer Warren Foster surprises us. The ranger doggedly marches right past Yogi, not really paying attention to him.

Smith: That’s nice, Yogi.
Yogi: I didn’t think he’d fall for that one. He must be slippin’.
(Ranger knocks on cabin door).
Smith: Come on, open up.
(Witch opens door)
Winnie: What’s wrong, Ranger?
Smith: Riding around on a broom, and filching picnic baskets, that’s what’s wrong.
Winnie: But I haven’t stuck my big nose out of this cabin all day!
Smith: On your broom and on your way. This is the last time I trust a witch.

What I love about it is that the Ranger behaves as if dealing with a witch tourist is just part of an average day and treats it in an utter business-like fashion.

I really like the establishing shot. The camera pans from Winnie Witch’s mailbox to her manor on a barren peak (that’s been conveniently levelled off). The blue swirls around the moon are a little reminiscent of the opening of The Jetsons. There are no credits on the versions of the cartoons I’ve seen, but the mansion looks similar to ones that Bob Gentle painted in other H-B cartoons.


And, yes, Warren Foster resisted the temptation to call his witch ‘Hazel,’ making her perhaps the only witch in a 1950s cartoon to have another name. And, no, Winnie wasn’t exactly an original name for a witch. It can be found, among other places, in a newspaper serial supplied by AP Newsfeatures for Christmas-time 1951 by Lucrece Hudgins. Winnie Witch was also the name of a horse that raced in New York State in 1909. Regardless, Hanna-Barbera kept the name in its collective memory so when a witch character was made one of the three components of The Secret Squirrel Show in 1965, she was named Winnie (Foster also wrote on the series). Although the names were the same, the designs were different, and both were given voices by Jean Vander Pyl (the later Winnie had a little lighter voice; Vander Pyl wanted to make her a little more motherly).

This cartoon is animated by Don Patterson, who tried to pump life in the stripped-down Walter Lantz shorts of the early ‘50s. Reader Howard Fein wrote at the ‘Termite Terrace’ forum in 2004:

Patterson characters are very angular and tend to have large, slightly crossed eyes and huge jaws giving the impression of overbite. If you view an early FLINTSTONES episode, you'll notice that when Fred or Barney say a word with the letter 'F' or 'P', they appear to bite their lower lip.

After Winnie reveals to a friend on the phone she’s going to vacation in Jellystone, the scene switches to Yogi bemoaning that tourists are following the park rules and not feeding the bears. He and Boo Boo then decide to mooch something at Winnie’s cabin. Patterson has Yogi blinking. Eye-blinks are usually cheap footage, substituting for animation during stretches of dialogue. But Patterson’s blink is different here. He’s actually forming an eyeball on Yogi. You can see the same thing in Show Biz Bear. Some dialogue from Foster, the man who once made a living writing for Yosemite Sam, as you can tell:


Yogi: How-de-do, sir. Is the lady of the house in?
Winnie: I’m the lady of the house and I’m not going to be pestered by any old dusty bear. Now, you get out of here! (whistles). Sick ‘em, broom!
Yogi: Leave us leave, Boo Boo.
Winnie: Back into the woods and you stay there, you fur-bearing varmints!

Yogi gets the idea to use the broom “sweep the pic-a-nic tables clean of pic-a-nic baskets.” See Patterson’s version of Boo Boo. He has a long face in the close-up and triangular eye blinks. And Foster gives us the catchphrase “The ranger isn’t going to like this, Yogi.”

Yogi switches an ordinary broom for the witch’s, parks Boo Boo on top of it (“I don’t think I’m going to like it, either,” adds the little bear) then shouts “Hey, hey! Broom’s away!” Boo Boo takes it for a test run (“you’re smarter than the av-er-age bird”) before Yogi hops on to carry out his master plan of theft from the sky. Whoever did the camera work on this screws up part of the scene. Yogi is supposed to be flying right-to-left but the clouds in the background suddenly look like they’re on rewind. The background starts moving left-to-right for a before changing back about a second later to the proper direction.



One of the animation savers Patterson used a couple of times was a ‘dip walk.’ The upper part of the ranger’s body bobs up and down as it crosses the scene like an ocean wave. This means the feet don’t have to be animated. A cel of the body can be slid across the background with only the mouth moving, but it still looks like the character is animated. Here is part of Ranger Smith slowed down as he goes to see the witch. He’s on ones, except when he gets to the “top” and then he’s held for an extra frame. Yogi behind him is on twos.



Winnie tries to leave Jellystone but can’t get off the ground. She realises her broom has been switched. The ranger expresses surprise then clues in who’s responsible. You can tell by the expressions Patterson uses.



Yogi lifts a king-sized picnic basket. The layout artist (or would this be on Foster’s storyboard?) pulls back to medium-long shot to emphasize Yogi being far up in the sky. Back to a closer shot and the ranger pops out of the basket. Patterson gives the bear a cross-eyed expression then a surprise take featuring Yogi’s hat popping up and twirling around. Yogi skids the broom to a stop (how does something skid in the air, anyway?) and the ranger drops to the ground far below with a camera shake. “A tisket, a tasket. You can’t float down with a basket, sir!” Yogi shouts before the impact.



Ranger Smith gets his revenge. He calls the army base to report a UFO. The military sends up a missile which zones in on the bear on a broom. The plan backfires. The ranger is resting comfortably with his feet up on his office desk. There’s a knock. It’s Yogi in the air. “Pardon me, sir. I’m being followed,” he says, and he flies across the screen, presumably to an exit door on the other side of the ranger station. The front door magically closes on its own and the missile crashes and gets lodged into it. Patterson has a surprise take that gets lost because it’s only on two frames. It would have been more effective if held for a bit longer.



The missile explodes, the cabin becomes scrap lumber and you can see Patterson give the ranger an overbite in the aftermath animation.

Smith, however, sort of wins out in the end. We see Yogi with the broom amidst small pieces of wood on the ground, then a shot of the crippled ranger.


Smith: (insistently) Come on, Yogi, faster. Sweep it all out of here. And when you’re finished, you’ll start building the new ranger station.
Yogi: (unhappily) They sure lowered the broom on me this time. Hey-hey-hey!



The music’s pretty typical, with ‘TC-300’ extended by chopping a clump near the end of it. Jack Shaindlin’s cues handle the airborne scenes and we hear the always-fun ‘Toboggan Run’ a few times.

0:00 - Yogi Bear sub-main title theme-vocal (Hanna-Barbera-Shows-Hoyt Curtin).
0:13 - ZR-49 LIGHT EERIE (Geordie Hormel) – Winnie on the phone.
0:52 - LAF-5-20 TOBOGGAN RUN (Shaindlin) – Winnie flying.
0:57 - C-14 DOMESTIC LIGHT (Bill Loose) – Yogi and Boo Boo, Yogi talks to Winnie, “sic ‘em broom!”
1:39 - LICKETY SPLIT (Shaindlin) – Broom chases Yogi and Boo Boo and lands.
2:00 - LAF-1-1 FISHY STORY (Shaindlin) – Yogi gets idea, switches brooms, “Broom’s away”
2:50 - LAF-5-20 TOBOGGAN RUN (Shaindlin) – Boo Boo on broom, “average bird” line.
3:08 - L-78 COMEDY UNDERSCORE (Spencer Moore) – Yogi/Boo Boo ‘sick’ dialogue, Yogi takes off.
3:27 - LAF-72-2 RODEO DAY (Shaindlin) – “The ranger isn’t going to like this,” airborne Yogi steals baskets.
4:12 - TC-300 ECCENTRIC COMEDY (Loose-John Seely) – Smith on phone, talks to witch.
5:16 - L-81 COMEDY UNDERSCORE (Moore) – Witch can’t get off ground, Ranger catches on.
5:32 - LAF-5-20 TOBOGGAN RUN (Shaindlin) – Yogi in air, Ranger falls to ground.
6:04 - TC-202 ECCENTRIC COMEDY (Loose-Seely) – Ranger calls missile base.
6:15 - L-1158 ANIMATION COMEDY (Moore) – Missile takes off.
6:18 - LAF-2-12 ON THE RUN (Shaindlin) – Yogi hear missile, ranger’s office explodes.
6:40 - LAF-27-6 UNTITLED TUNE (Shaindlin) – Ranger running in mid-air, Yogi sweeping.
6:57 - Yogi Bear sub end title theme (Curtin).

23 comments:

  1. Thank goodness Patt is here to do the dip walk. He's alot better at it than those guys on 'Rocket Robinhood'.

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  2. Tony Rivera Did the Charcacter and Background layouts in this One, I Think, Not Sure who Did The Backgrounds, though.

    Asim.

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  3. Asim, that'd be my guess.
    Zartok .. that's what we need. Yogi and Ranger Smith in Dementia Five.

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  4. The canny sub-text enveloped within the demimonde of animated cartoons manifests itself in an unexpected locality in the seven-minute prescient wonder known as Bewitched Bear. For obscured within its unassuming frames is an entreaty anticipating the tumult and result of the activist movement within the angst-filled decade to come—a plaintive plea for equality.

    ...or you could say Screen Gems took this idea and gave it to William Asher and Danny Arnold for the basic plot themes of witches-suffer-discrimination for the early season episodes of "Bewitched". ;)

    This cartoon was getting close to the end of the line for the blasé, been-there-done-that Ranger voice that was a staple of the Dan Gordon-Charles Shows Yogi episodes (which in part was needed to fit with the very limited animation at times in Season 1). By the end of Season 2, the Ranger would be more of a mix of perpetually frustrated/annoyed and scheming to get Yogi before Yogi got him.

    Even as a kid, I liked the former better because there's a certain cynicism there that you really didn't see in any other made-for-TV cartoons. And, when the latter style was extended to other similar sneaky animal-vs.-human stories with weaker plots (like Wally Gator or Magilla Gorilla) came across as talking down to the audience, even if the audience was made up of kids in elementary school.

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  5. Well, JL, I could say that, but that wouldn't take advantage of all those animation books I own where people overanalyse film using phraseology that accents their intellectualism.

    It was smart from a comedy standpoint to coalesce Ranger Smith into a defineable personality and adversary. It's the version of the Ranger everyone remembers. I like the other ones, even the generic rangers of the first season.

    In this cartoon and 'Lullabye Bye-Bye Bear', he sounds so world-weary and bored. It's a great characterisation and Messick does a wonderful job with it.

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  6. Hard to believe the title card pre-dates the tv show Bewitched.

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  7. Well, Hanna-Barbera did the animation for the Bewitched opening, didn't it?

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  8. Guys, on the Bewitched connection: you sure took the witch's enchanted wand and zapped the words outta MY mouth..and MY fingers!

    After all, the connection:
    Bewitched Bear
    Bwitched-the show
    Hanna-Barbera
    Columbie/Screen Gems TV
    the animated open, the animated open and the general themes for both, including the aforementioned discrimination sub-context.

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  9. Yowp --

    I supposepart of my long-term not-so-much dislike as just weariness for the latter format was that Hanna-Barbera would use Foster's Yogi-Ranger Smith template so many times over the next 10-15 years, no doubt because it worked so well (heck, it even ended up being borrowed (or, if you prefer, stolen) over on the East Coast by Total TV as the basic format for Tennessee Tuxedo three years later.

    The idea that Yogi could be doing all this and the Ranger (or the TV director, or the scooter rental guy) could just be so damned bored and cynical with and about their job that the bear could at least temporarily get away with all these things was a very adult way to handle the early days of limited animation, and probably played a big part in why Huckleberry Hound was a hit with adults and earned the first Emmy for animated TV shows. But it probably wasn't the best way to sell Kellogg's OKs or other brands (Kids! Ranger Smith says, "Eat 'em or don't eat 'em. I don't care.")

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  10. Love those Don Patterson headbobs. To me, they're smooth and organic, not jerky like other animators' bobs, and they occasionally go from side to side as well as up and down. He's the best at animating dialog, too. Here he also does "S" with a mouth full of teeth. And his eyes and eyebrows are the most varied and expressive, although they may blink a little too much.

    He draws heads at unusual angles. Look at Yogi while he's holding Boo Boo on the broom, or when he's looking down while sweeping the forest floor. Not the typical profile, three-quarters or full-face drawings of limited animation.

    He does draw characters with overbites, except when he doesn't. In the scene following the explosion, the Ranger is drawn with an underbite. I think he draws within the context of the scene.

    Love the drawing of Ranger Smith as he's calling the missile base.

    I think his work is nearly as funny as Nicholas', and more versatile.No one made better looking cartoon within the constraints of limited animation than Don Patterson.

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  11. I like the world-weary Ranger Smith. After years of dealing with Yogi, it's either weariness or psychopathy.

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  12. It has always tickled me how non nonchalant Ranger Smith is when he delivers the lines; " It burns me up. You trust em, and they let you down every time ". The slow burn, so to speak. Just like it's an everyday thing to have a witch check into a cabin at the park. Of course it's a cartoon, the impossible is a everyday occurrence. But it just strikes me funny how Don Messick read the lines.

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  13. Thank you for the citation; I'm flattered. As a kid, before I knew the various names of the animators, I found Patterson-animated characters rather homely. They still are, but in an amusingly quirky way. Don's work enlivens many of the dialogue-heavy post-1960 cartoons with Hokey, Snagglepuss, etc. There's a similar effect with the late 50s Lantz cartunes he animated on.

    Along with his various facial tics I enjoy how, whenever a Patterson-animated character dashes out of frame, there's a large burst of curlicuing 'motion lines'.

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  14. I hadn't realized until reading this post and the accompanying comments the deadpan tendencies of the 1959-60 Ranger Smith. It is pretty amusing at that, and reassuring that the Ranger can get just as peeved with the tourists as with Yogi. The 1960-62 Ranger assumed the role of the flustered, frustrated human authority figure to the series' nominal animal stars- a template that was used for Mr. Peebles, Col. Fuzzby, Chief Winchley, The Goofy Guards' King, and numerous others.

    Kudos to the semi-realistic outcome to the Ranger's victimization by missile. Very seldom is a cartoon character depicted with any lingering effects of the injury suffered in the previous scene. Of course, it helped that it was at the end of the cartoon.

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  15. Howard:

    What makes the 'bored' Ranger Smith so great is the range in reactions both on screen and with Messick's voice, from the just-going-through-the-motions character early in the cartoon to the shock/terror reaction when he finally catches on or becomes a victim of what Yogi's doing. It makes the sudden change funnier and more effective even with the limited animation because it highlights the poses.

    With the later cartoons, and with the imitations that followed (including Top Cat, though part of that was borrowed from the Phil Silvers-Paul Ford "Bilko" relationship) when you start with the foil already aware of problems and/or on guard for trouble, you don't have as wide a range of reactions to work with, even if it may make it a little easier to come up with stories that fit the template.

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  16. I think the "Bewitched" connection is just a coincidence. The TV series didn't premiere until may years later, in 1964. :-)

    I remember this title card cel and background was framed, hanging in the offices at Hanna-Barbera when I worked there. HB converted their old warehouse into a facility to house marketing, licensing and merchandising, and animation art. It was in this building (re-designed to look like Spacely Sprockets) where I'd marvel at it every day. If my parents hadn't raised such an upstanding honest kid, I'd have it hanging on the wall in MY home right now. LOL!

    Scott

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  17. Howard,
    You think the Patterson stuff is homely? Huh! I think it's beautiful!

    As Cary Grant says in "Father Goose", "You're making a powerful enemy!"

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  18. Has anyone else noticed the strange quality of the audio in this cartoon? The dialogue sounds normal but the music and sound effects have a tinny, hollow, almost echo-y sound to them. It's especially evident when the music transitions from "Rodeo Day" to "Eccentric Comedy."

    Or maybe it's just me.

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  19. Hey Roger. The copy I have of " Bewitched Bear " is from 1992 when " Cartoon Network " signed on and had a " Huck and Yogi Marathon ". The music transition is normal in that version. However, I listened to the print someone posted from " Boomerang " on YouTube and " Rodeo Day " does have an every so slight " flange " in the sound. I had to really listen for it, though. Sometimes that happens during the tranfer.

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  20. Errol, you don't have Huck's "Spud Dud", do you? There are three versions on-line, none in English.

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  21. Jim, I know it's on a " Cartoon Network " compilation DVD that came out about 5 years ago. It had Scooby, The Jetson's, Topcat, Pixie & Dixie,Yogi and Huck episodes. "Spud Dud" was definitely on it. I watched it at a friends house. That was a few years back.I'll check and see if he still has it.

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  22. In this cartoon Bewitched Bear it's obvious the old witch learned that broom-swatting bit from Mr. Jinks! LOL

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  23. I caught this cartoon in front of "The Halloween Tree" on VHS.

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