Saturday, August 13, 2011

Yogi Bear — Prize Fight Fright

Produced and Directed by Bill Hanna and Joe Barbera.
Animation – Ken Muse; Layout – Dick Bickenbach; Backgrounds – Fernando Montealegre; Dialogue and Story Sketches – Charlie Shows and Dan Gordon; Titles – Lawrence Goble; Production Supervision – Howard Hanson.
Voice Cast: Yogi, Champ, Straw Hat Photographer, Sportscaster, Reporter – Daws Butler; Boo Boo, Manager, Fedora Photographer, Reporter – Don Messick.
Music: Bill Loose/John Seely; Jack Shaindlin.
First Aired: week of February 16, 1959.
Plot: Yogi decides to be a sparring partner to the Champ to get some free food.

In 1927, Jack Dempsey trekked to the San Rafael Mountains north of Los Angeles to train for a match against Gene Tunney for the heavyweight championship. In 1957, Archie Moore trekked to the mountain country of Cuyamaca Rancho State Park east of San Diego to train in the hope of a match against Floyd Patterson for the heavyweight championship. So it was in 1959, a heavyweight boxing champ trekked to mountainous Jellystone Park to train. And lose his title to Yogi Bear in the process.

This Yogi adventure offers the occasional good line, one nice pose and a cute twist ending. And the following:

● The oddest looking profile view of Boo Boo. Ken Muse has drawn Yogi’s friend with little cheek lumps for some reason. The excited Boo Boo doesn’t run; he walks briskly to get Yogi out of the bed in his cave with news the “world’s champeen” is in Jellystone.



● Boo Boo’s rare “you’re a @$#%*& idiot” look. Yogi misreads the Champ’s training camp sign as “Barbecue and Pic-a-nic Tonight.” Boo Boo briefly shows what he really thinks of Yogi’s “smarter than the average” intellect before quickly resuming the happy mien we come to associate with him. He helpfully reads another sign which allows the cartoon to continue—“Wanted, Sparring Partners. Good Pay. Free Meals.” The food is what Yogi’s after.



● A semi-familiar cartoon voice. Cut to the Champ and his manager. The Champ has a busted nose and the manager is shaped like a missile. But Don Messick seems to have been inspired by Ned Sparks, the crabby guy who provided comic relief in Warners musicals in the ‘30s, and got parodied in a bunch of cartoons in that decade. Messick uses the same cadence and inflection as Sparks for the manager’s voice, without the crabby dialogue. Yogi offers his services as a sparring partner. “Ain’t you a little roly-poly,” asks the Champ, punctuating his question with a sock to the cut. Yogi’s eyes roll (with appropriate sound effects). “Hee hee hee. I did not feel nothin’,” claims the bear, as he falls backwards.

● Charlie Shows’ rhyme time. “He hit me low with a sneak blow,” the prone Yogi tells Boo Boo.

● How’d he change jackets? In each shot until now, the manager was wearing a pin-striped jacket. Not surprising, considering the character was in the same position against the same background and Ken Muse only moved his mouth. But in this cut from Yogi on the ground to the Champ and his manager, the manager’s jacket is solid blue.

● Familiar cartoon bit. Yogi goes into training. Can’t do more than two push-ups. “I’m skippin’ the rope skippin’.” He cons Boo Boo into jumping rope and lifting a log as a weight while he rests against a rock. Haven’t we seen something like this somewhere? “You in shape yet, Yogi?” the tired Boo Boo asks. Yogi shows his strength by lifting the rock over his head. It crashes on top of him.

● Charlie Shows’ rhyme time, again. Says Boo Boo to his buddy under the boulder: “Yogi, you’re in the pink. I think.”



● The character with two voices. The manager comes up with a publicity gimmick—let the Champ fight Yogi for photographers (“Glad I thought of it,” says the Champ). The photographer with the straw hat at ringside says one line like Daws Butler, but the next one like Don Messick. Seems the other photographer was supposed to have the second line.

● Best line of the cartoon. Boo Boo rings the bell because the Champ keeps punching Yogi in the face and the back of the head (Muse’s cycle animation causes no ill effects, no even an “ouch”). Boo Boo pushes Yogi to the corner and waves a towel in front of him.


Boo Boo: How come you didn’t move a muscle, Yogi?
Yogi: I got to warm up, don’t I?
Boo Boo: Oh.
Yogi: I got the Champ scared, Boo Boo.
Boo Boo: Scared?
Yogi: Scared he might murder me, Boo Boo.

The bell rings. Now is the climax of the cartoon. Yogi feebly raises his arm. “Never lead with your right. Never, never,” advises the Champ. He knocks down Yogi’s gloved right first, which does a windmill and bops the Champ on the head. He’s out cold. The manager reacts with a flying hat and cigar take. The hat leaps up and rocks back and forth in two drawings, the cigar does a 360 in six drawings on ones.



● Goofy take and surprise ending. The last scene opens with a shot of newspapers. Naturally, newspapers publish an extra every time a bear knocks out the world champion. Cut to a sportscaster (wearing a Walter Winchell-esque fedora) reading the story. Gotta love the ash tray on the desk. Back in Jellystone, Yogi demonstrates to the assembled reporters (in silhouette) how he beat the Champ. He asks Boo Boo to raise a fist. Boo Boo obliges. And knocks out Yogi. The three-drawing Yogi quiver may be the silliest thing Muse did at Hanna-Barbera. “Does that make me the new world’s champeen?” grins Boo Boo, who laughs as the iris closes. Jack Dempsey and Archie Moore, beware!



If you had to pick the quintessential Yogi Bear stock music, it’s probably the Bill Loose/John Seely music (nĂ© David Rose music) you’ll hear in this cartoon.

0:00 - Yogi Bear Sub Main Title (Hanna-Barbera-Shows-Curtin)
0:14 - no music – Boo Boo walks into Yogi’s cave, talks to Yogi.
0:37 - TC-303 ZANY COMEDY (Loose-Seely) – Boo Boo runs from cave, bears read signs, Champ punches bag. “No! Yes!”
1:53 - no music – Yogi and Champ talk, Yogi punched in stomach, falls out.
2:09 - TC-300 ECCENTRIC COMEDY (Loose-Seely) – Yogi on ground, push-up scene, Boo Boo skips rope.
3:23 - no music – Boo Boo lifts log.
3:40 - TC-202 ECCENTRIC COMEDY (Loose-Seely) – Yogi goes to lift rock, Champ and manager talk, photographers take shots.
4:58 - no music – “How about some action shots?” “...my public.”
5:03 - TC-303 ZANY COMEDY (Loose-Seely) – Champ punches Yogi, Boo Boo rings bell, Yogi rests, Yogi back in ring, “Naaah.”
6:01 - no music – “Never lead with your right,” Champ knocked out, photos taken.
6:18 - LAF-7-12 FUN ON ICE (Shaindlin) – Newspaper, Yogi talks to media, Boo Boo knocks out Yogi.
6:58 - Yogi Bear Sub End Title end theme (Curtin).

4 comments:

  1. Bill & Joe used a similar "wobble" as Muse's end reaction for Yogi in "Barbecue Brawl", after Tom gets smaked into the swimming with spikes briquette shovel (and I think the Avery-Lah unit used something like that in one of the later UPA-ized Droopys -- either way, it's another example of the CinemaScope-era style from MGM making it's way into the early Hanna-Barbera TV shorts).

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  2. "Hey, look...it's a fer-real Teddy Bear!"

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  3. Ah....here's another 1958-1959 one...the one where Yogi fights..."and the little bear's the big bear's second....ahhhhh.":) And I love Boo-Boo's line that closes the cartoon. Pretty soon the 1958-1959's will be used up and we'll be on our way to just 1959-1960, then sometime later in the year 1960-1961.

    Ned Sparks was imitated for "Tennessee Tuxedo"'s eagle character Baldy, a friend of the main characters (also including Chumley the dumb walrus) and for "Gumby"'s dino Prickle in about 20 shorts.(Prickle had several other distinctive voices.)

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  4. It Makes Boo Boo look too much like a character from Tom and Jerry, Yeesh!

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