Saturday, May 28, 2011

Augie Doggie — Whatever Goes Pup

Produced and Directed by Bill Hanna and Joe Barbera.
Credits: Animation – George Nicholas; Layout – Ed Benedict; Backgrounds – Dick Thomas; Story – Mike Maltese; Story Director – Alex Lovy; Titles – Lawrence Goble; Production Supervision – Howard Hanson.
Voice Cast: Augie, Mailman, First Bluebird – Daws Butler; Doggie Daddy, Second Bluebird, Duck – Doug Young.
Music: Phil Green; Harry Bluestone/Emil Cadkin; Jack Shaindlin.
Production: Quick Draw McGraw M-013.
First Aired: week of December 21, 1959 (rerun, week of June 20, 1960).
Plot: Doggie Daddy floats after drinking Augie’s formula and can’t get down again.

Anyone hoping to see a lot of Ed Benedict’s great stylisation in this cartoon will be disappointed. His background layouts have been given a fairly tame interpretation by Dick Thomas, who had a fairly traditional approach to his construction. One of the only real hints Benedict was here is in the design of a mailman, who has a large, triangular nose and a head that juts out to the back. Still, he’s a little less distinctive than something like Benedict’s scooter salesman in Scooter Looter the previous season.

And there, unfortunately, isn’t a lot of George Nicholas’ distinctive animation style here, either. He’s not flopping around a tongue in a big mouth like he did with Yogi Bear and Fred Flintstone. But he does come up with his usual beady-eye, stunned look for Doggie Daddy a few times.

Augie Doggie had two different personalities. At times, he acted like a real kid, with TV heroes and wanting to adopt a pet. Other times, he was a scientific genius, making formulas (this cartoon and Pipsqueak Pop), inventing things (Ro-Butler) or talking to space aliens (Mars Little Precious). I prefer the former but the latter probably left more room for Mike Maltese to come up with gags that couldn’t be duplicated on a live-action sitcom.

This cartoon starts like a bunch of them. Daddy’s in his living room chair (which had a different design almost every cartoon) reading the paper when he smells something. The camera pans over a motley group of coil-connected beakers and tubes and stops on a wide-smiling Augie with part of one eye over top of the other. It reminds me of Dick Lundy’s drawings in Million Dollar Robbery (though it could be Benedict’s influence again; he laid out that cartoon, too).


Scientist Augie declares “I got somethin’, Dad. Or maybe I haven’t,” and induces Daddy to drink the green concoction. Daddy carries on reading the paper, not realising he’s floated to the ceiling until he looks up, then down. Then comes the reaction, in nine drawings. Daddy hides behind the newspaper in the middle of it before he ends it with part of his head sticking into what must be a rubber ceiling. Nicholas varies the drawings of the take. Some are on ones, so what you see below isn’t the exact timing.

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The rest of the cartoon is split into two parts—Daddy’s attempts to get back to the ground, despite being full of Lighter-Than-Air formula, and then Daddy giving up and just enjoying flying around. Nicholas uses the old Carlo Vinci trick of stretching and thinning out Daddy’s body when he zips out of the screen in his attempts to get back on “terra cotta,” as he puts it the first time.

Hanna-Barbera cartoons could be a little sloppy in matching medium and close-up shots in consecutive frames. Here’s one of the more blatant examples you’ll find after Augie finishes nailing Daddy inside a piano.



This scene also features a great example of how the studio saved money. The piano is never animated. It’s simply on a cell that slides up. Daddy getting out of the piano and then the instrument crashing to the floor is never shown on camera, not even a drawing of the piano wreckage. It’s conveyed by shots of Augie wincing in reaction to sound effects off camera; it’s sure easier to animate than a piano breaking apart. There’s a really cute read on the dialogue here. Augie and Daddy are completely matter-of-fact when they say “bye” to each other ask the piano floats toward the ceiling. They make it sound like an everyday event.

Augie uses a vacuum cleaner and sucks dad down (they both laugh at Augie’s bad pun “It’s in the bag.”) Cartoon physics are in play because the vacuum, with Daddy in it, aims itself for the chimney for some reason and levitates into the air. Daddy casually floats out of the top of the vacuum bag and zips down toward the nearest rooftop TV antenna (“restin’ between channel 14 and 15”). Just before this, Augie races a wall socket to unplug the vacuum. He runs past the same shadow on the wall eight times. How long is the Daddy home that an electrical outlet isn’t closer?



Daddy’s been kind of kidding around at this point but he seems to go absolutely looney. “Whoops! I see a space station for wounded space ships,” says Daddy during his next ascent. He means a mailbox. He somehow fits into it (“Now I can drop anchor,” he remarks), but the mailman comes, opens the door to the box, and a disgusted Daddy floats up. The mailman looks at us and says “I’ve heard of air mail, but this is ridiculous.”

Daddy decides to do enjoy floating around while Augie thinks of something (a shame he’s not doing an dog paddle instead of an Australian crawl). A couple of bluebirds with big, ovular eyes that Benedict likes decide to hitch a ride. The jokey Daddy tells them to get off (“I haven’t got my pilot’s license yet”) and puns “I guess you could say dat I’m for the birds.” The dialogue’s not exactly Maltese’s strongest material.

Daddy and a white duck collide in mid-air. Nicholas used a nose-crinkle effect when he could. He did it with Augie reacting to the off-camera piano destruction and he does it during the collision. Daddy apologises to the duck, but the mallard wants no part of the plot of this cartoon. “When dogs start flyin’, I start walking,” says the disgusted duck, who stomps away in anger.

Maltese doesn’t really have an outstanding topper ‘stuck-in-the-air’ gag. The cartoon’s time is just about up so he just ends it. Daddy grabs onto a flag pole atop a building (“never thought I’d be flyin’ at half mast”) and Augie races in, make it up to the top of the building and back down in no time flat and emerges with Daddy floating at the other end of a rope. The perspective is interesting. The lamppost evidently is close to the foreground, so you can get an idea how high Daddy is flying. That means the buildings in the background must really be far in the distance.


So we’re back to Augie in his darkened room mixing a formula to try to get Daddy down. But the old dog isn’t worried in the slightest. The final shot has the floating father in silhouette, wearing a kite tail, the full moon behind him (the previous shot shows the rope going skyward from a nail in a window sill). Now it’s time for Maltese to end things with one of Daddy’s “after all” observations: “How many fathers can fly like a kite?”

Music is from the C and B, EMI Photoplay and Langlois Filmusic libraries, the first two re-released in Capitol Hi-Q.


0:00 - Augie Doggie Main Title theme (Curtin, Barbera, Hanna).
0:23 - CB-89A ROMANTIC JAUNT (Bluestone-Cadkin) – Daddy reads paper, floats to ceiling.
1:51 - CB-86A HIDE AND SEEK (Bluestone-Cadkin) – Daddy notices he’s on the ceiling, jumps toward floor.
2:20 - jaunty bassoon and skipping strings (Shaindlin) – “Augie, who put out the lights?”, piano scene, Daddy sucked into vacuum.
3:36 - fast show biz music (Shaindlin) – “I’ll turn the machine off”, Daddy on TV antenna.
4:23 - GR-155 PARKS AND GARDENS (Green) – Augie with flat irons, mailbox scene, birds hitch ride, duck scene.
6:22 - GR-58 GOING SHOPPING (Green) – Daddy spots flag pole, Augie takes him home, Augie in lab.
6:55 - rising scale show biz music (Shaindlin) – Augie at window, Daddy in front of moon.
7:07 - Augie Doggie End Title music (Curtin, Barbera, Hanna).

3 comments:

  1. Spent last Sunday at your site, Mr. Yowp, reading your posts from the beginning and then finding the cartoons you were reviewing (on DVD or on YouTube) and getting the full-on Yowp-HB experience. A very enjoyable time. And I now have renewed appreciation for the early Yogis. Beautiful stylized things they were.

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  2. That "Going Shopping" by Phil Green isn't used that much in H-B cartoons, interesting. It WAS used on a Quick Draw short or two, in addition to this Augie Short. I love that ending with Doggie Daddy's usual Jimmy Durante elan at making a wisecrack to us and Jack Shaindlin's up-rising scale showbizzy music at the end.

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  3. "Yowp-Yowp" Dodsworth,

    I could notice how Augie Doggie and his beloved dad looks funny on the Ed Benedict's design.

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