Produced and Directed by Joe Barbera and Bill Hanna.
Credits: Animation – Don Patterson; Layout – Ed Benedict; Backgrounds – Joe Montell; Story – Warren Foster; Story Direction – Alex Lovy; Titles – Lawrence Goble; Production Supervision – Howard Hanson.
Voice Cast: Huck, Captain, Alf – Daws Butler; Dr. Jikkle/Piccadilly Dilly, Narrator, Eddie – Hal Smith.
Music: Spencer Moore, Bill Loose/John Seely, Geordie Hormel, Jack Shaindlin, Raoul Kraushaar ?
First Aired: week of January 25, 1960 (repeated week of July 18, 1960).
Plot: Clueless London bobby Huck is sent to arrest the raving Piccadilly Dilly, who is really mild-mannered Dr. Jekkle under the spell of his own potion.
Near the beginning of the cartoon, Warren Foster comes up with a great line that had to be over the heads of every North American kid watching. And probably most North American adults.
Huck is deposited in the middle of late 19th century London. He’s ostensibly an English bobby but, incongruously, maintains his North Carolina drawl. After a brief chat with him, the Scotland Back-Yard captain, in profile, turns an eye to the camera and remarks to us:
Inspector: ‘e’s Yorkshire, this ‘un. Can’t hardly understand the blighter.
Now, on this side of the pond, you hear about an “English” accent. But anyone familiar with England, or who has read the opening act of Pygmalion, knows there are accents aplenty in Old Blighty. And if you know anyone from the south of England, it’s a perennial joke among a lot of them that Yorkshiremen have such thick accents, they’re hard to understand. How Foster would have known this beats me, but it’s a pretty astute line on his part.
That may be the most enjoyable part of the cartoon for me but if it’s a little arcane for you, there’s still a lot to like here. Some examples:
• Don Patterson’s drawings. The Piccadilly Dilly looks like one of those late ‘50s Lantz studio characters that Patterson would have animated before going to Hanna-Barbera. And the transformations from Jikkle to Dilly and back are fun. Patterson’s taking advantage of limited animation as best as he can. Even the clothes change. The potion makes the Dilly grow a hat and cape.
• Hal Smith’s endless crazy laughter as the Dilly.
• Huck’s stream of commentary, at no time cluing in to what’s going on. Huck just seemed plain stupid in ‘Huck’s Hack’ but his ignorance is logical here because he doesn’t know what the Dilly looks like and never sees the transformation.
• The opening shot.
Joe Montell’s London scenescape is a nice bit of art, especially for an H-B cartoon, and sets a fine tone for the start of the cartoon. The scene fades to two men reading a misspelled sign about the Piccadilly Dilly. Nowhere in the cartoon does it explain what the Dilly is accused of doing. About all he seems to do is laugh and push hats down on top of blue hounds. Alf, the tall one, asks Eddie, the short one, what the sign says. Then we get a close up and Eddie reads a poster we can all read for ourselves and, presumably, both should be able to read for themselves, considering how close to it they are.
Then we get dialogue about a “rich toff” in silhouette. The two “go ‘ome” then another silhouette sweeps into view and we hear crazy laughter. It’s the Dilly.
The scene now cuts to the door outside the office of Doctor Jikkle. The Dilly stops and laughs then goes inside. The cartoon cuts to him drinking out of a tall glass (which he drops to the floor with a breaking sound, though the glass doesn’t break). Now comes the transformation. First heavy breathing, then stomping (in three drawings), then a flash. Here are some of Patterson’s drawings.
The meek and contrite doctor decides he must get rid of the potion so he won’t be tempted. He pours it into a sink. A camera pan shows the sink really empties into a glass jug.
Now we have the scene at the police station where we learn the Dilly “was gadding about again.”
Huck: You all want me to a-rest this pickle-dilly Dilly, sir.
Captain: That’s it. Arrest the blighter. Bring him in. And we’ll give this Piccadilly Dilly chap a taste of Dartmoor Prison, we will.
Huck (to the audience): If’n that there captain feller talked any more British, I wouldn’t know what he was sayin.’
Yes, there is a Dartmoor Prison. It gained fame for a riot in the ’30s and was a locale in one of the many Sherlock Holmes movies with Basil Rathbone.
Huck’s now on a cobblestoned street. The background artist has kindly added some fog effect for atmosphere. The chimes of Big Ben are heard in the background.
Huck: Real quiet in Piccadilly Circus tonight. Not even an elephant in sight.
(The Dilly rushes past him twice, giggling maniacally).
Huck: Yeah. Real quiet. Looks like the Piccadilly Dilly won’t show up.
(The Dilly comes up to him in medium shot, shaking).
Huck: Howdy, mister. Say, uh, did you take note of any suspicious-looking characters around here?
The Dilly laughs and squashes Huck’s helmet on top of him, then lays on the sidewalk, screeching in laughter. Huck decides “he’s kinda high strung” and “cain’t go home in that condition” so he tells the Dilly he’s going to take him to a doctor down the street to get something to quiet him down. Huck strolls off camera which sets up a revelation gag that the Dilly’s the one carrying him.
Huck: I’m right glad he’s comin’ along peaceable-like.
To Dr. Jikkle’s they go, where the crazed Dilly again pounds Huck’s helmet over his head. But just then, the Dilly stiffens. He realises the potion is wearing off. Patterson gives him spiral eyes; he did the same thing to Fred in some early episodes of The Flintstones. Huck pops off his helmet. Now we get a great bit of dialogue. Huck makes it seem like he knows what’s going on when he hasn’t a clue.
Huck: Oh, there you are, doctor. I’m Officer Huckleberry Hound of Scotland Back Yard.
Jikkle: The police! I knew you’d find me sooner or later. In a way, I’m glad. When you mix hydronexitrene and peritone together, you’re bound to get a schizo-frantic reaction.
Huck: Oh, ever’ time. Ever’ time.
Jikkle: My big mistake was splitting my personality.
Huck: Well, don’t worry, doc. I mean, if it’s only split, you can glue it back together again. T’aint like it got broke off altogether. Now, I’d like to chat some more doctor-talk with you, but I brought you a patient. He’s around here somewheres.
(Huck turns away. The doctor transforms into the Dilly).
Huck: You’ll like him. He’s got a real good sense of humour.
(The Dilly laughs).
Huck: Hold everything, doc. That’s his laugh. He’s close by. (Huck turns his head and sees the Dilly. The Dilly laughs again). I told you he was close by. We bobbies are all trained observers with keen ears.
We get more transformations, laughter, and hat-pushings. Huck frowns a bit at the camera. “You know,” he tells us. “It’s hard to stay mad at a feller with such a refreshing sense of humour.” He cuffs the Dilly and leads him to the door, then blows his police whistle. The captain arrives in a horse-drawn (and metallic) police van. Of course, the Dilly has changed back to the good doctor.
Well, maybe he’s not so good. He suggests the captain come inside to join him in a toast to his health. So much for his contrition about being arrested and his sincerity in getting rid of his elixir of evil. The captain orders Huck to remain outside and be on guard for the Dilly. We hear the sound of glugging as the bored Huck checks his fingernails. Then there’s the sound of two people engaging in wild laughter. Yes, the potion has created two Dillies, who pop their heads out the door. Patterson gives Huck a small scare take and the cartoon ends with the pair laughing and chasing Huck down the street. For some reason, the camera cuts to a solo shot of Huck looking back before the iris closes.
Foster evidently loved the idea of placing a clueless Huck as a Scotland Back Yard investigation in a transformation cartoon. He did it again the following season in ‘Science Friction’ where Dr. Frankly Stein turns an overstuffed wiener schnitzel into a laughing monster-schnitzel (Don Messick supplies the goofy laughter in that one instead of Hal Smith). Foster brought the ‘Dr. Jekyll, Don’t See the Transformation’ idea with him from Warners. It’s the basic plot of the Foster-written Bugs Bunny misstep ‘Hyde and Hare’ (1955) as well as ‘Hide and Go Tweet’ (1960, copyright 1959), which came out after Foster left the Freleng unit for Hanna-Barbera. There’s no story credit on that cartoon and Warners was notorious for leaving the names of ex-employees from its on-screen credits (though it should be pointed out Mike Maltese wrote the last few Freleng cartoons before this one). And Foster brought back the idea for the Loopy De Loop cartoon Two Faced Wolf (1961), except Loopy sees the mild-mannered Doctor Jickyll (played again by Hal Smith) change, and both swallow the transformation potion at the end.
The most fitting bit of music in the cartoon is the middle passage of the light classical-sounding ‘ZR-52 Light Movement’ aka ‘Light Quiet’ by Geordie Hormel. It flutters down the scale and is used when the Dilly and the captain are drinking down the potion.
0:00 – Huck short main title theme (Curtin).
0:14 – L-78 COMEDY UNDERSCORE (Moore) – Englishmen look at poster, Dilly runs into Jikkle’s office.
0:54 – creepy trumpet reverb music (Kraushaar?) – Dilly drinks potion, dumps potion down drain.
1:18 – TC-432 HOLLY DAY (Loose-Seely) – Police station scene.
2:14 – Big Ben Chimes – Huck looks around in long shot.
2:16 – TC-204A WISTFUL COMEDY (Loose-Seely) – Huck meets Dilly, tells him they’re going to Dr. Jikkle’s.
3:10 – ZR-127 PERIOD CHASE (Hormel) – Dilly carries Huck into office, transforms.
3:33 – LAF-7-12 FUN ON ICE (Shaindlin) – Huck and Jikkle converse, Jekkle transforms.
4:23 – LAF-10-7 GROTESQUE No. 2 (Shaindlin) – Dilly laughs, pushes helmet on Huck, transforms back and forth, Huck cuffs Dilly, takes him to door.
5:36 – ZR-127 PERIOD CHASE (Hormel) – Huck blows police whistle, police van pulls up.
5:41 – LAF-7-12 FUN ON ICE (Shaindlin) – Captain and Huck chat, Captain goes inside for a toast.
6:20 – ZR-52 LIGHT QUIET (Hormel) – Captain and Jikkle drink, Huck hears laughter,
6:38 – LICKETY SPLIT (Shaindlin) – Huck’s helmet shoved on him, Dilly and Dilly Captain chase Huck down street.
6:58 – Huck sub end title music (Curtin).