Sunday, November 27, 2011

Pixie and Dixie — King-Size Surprise

Produced and Directed by Bill Hanna and Joe Barbera.
Credits: Animation – Lew Marshall; Layout – Walt Clinton; Backgrounds – Bob Gentle; Dialogue and Story Sketches – Charlie Shows and Dan Gordon; Titles – Art Goble; Production Supervision – Howard Hanson.
Voices: Pixie – Don Messick; Dixie, Mr. Jinks, King-Size – Daws Butler.
Music: Bill Loose/John Seely, Jack Shaindlin, Spencer Moore, Geordie Hormel.
First Aired: week of March 2, 1959.
Plot: A dog agrees to protect Pixie and Dixie from Jinks after they help him.

When he and Bill Hanna opened their own studio, Joe Barbera had spent 17 years at MGM writing almost nothing but cat-vs.-mouse cartoons. So it’s not too shocking that when his studio needed instant ideas for 22 cat-vs.-mice cartoons, he’d borrow a bit from his old Metro shorts. And it’s no more apparently than in this cartoon, which owes an awful lot to 1944’s The Bodyguard.

Of course, the idea of ‘I’ll-help-you-because-you-really-helped-me’ goes back to Androcles and the Lion, and Tex Avery took into ridiculousness in the great Bad Luck Blackie (1949). But this cartoon even lifts gags wholesale from the MGM original. One thing this cartoon doesn’t have in common with The Bodyguard is animator Lew Marshall. He wasn’t at MGM when it was made.

It starts the same. In spirit, anyway. Pixie and Dixie are running away from Jinks, who has been chasing them.



Jinks has hidden himself behind the garbage can where the exhausted Pixie and Dixie are vowing to fight the cat “two against one.” Afraid not. Jinks clobbers them with the garbage can lid (do they make metal garbage cans any more?). The vibrating take is the gag. It’s on two drawings on twos.

Mice Shake

Charlie Shows works in a rare-for-him pop culture reference. Jinks asks “Are you, like, all shook up?” It’s still early in Jinks’ career so he doesn’t consistently call them “meeces.” In this scene, he calls them “mousies.”

Next scene finds Pixie and Dixie on a sidewalk curb forlornly remarking that Jinks has pushed them too far. Their state of resignation is interrupted by a dog who wants help. In The Bodyguard, the dog has been caught by dog catcher but in this one, he’s only worried about being caught because his dog license tag has fallen through a drainage grate. Shows rhyme time: “Calm down, hound,” says Dixie. Doesn’t Marshall’s dog look like something from a late ‘50s MGM cartoon in this shot? The meece rescue the dog tag or, as Dixie puts it “Operation Dog Tag in the bag.” The dog pledges eternal loyalty to the mice. Unlike The Bodyguard, where the bulldog tells Jerry to whistle if he needs help, this dog tells Pixie and Dixie to “yelp for help.”

The mice now decide to be vengeful and smug. Poor Jinks is merely resting his weary self (can he look any uglier in Marshall’s snore cycle?). Pixie collapses the lawn chair which crashes loudly on the lawn (An explosion sound? On a lawn?). Exclaims the surprised Jinks, “Wow, now!” Good lord, can someone please burn Charlie Shows’ rhyming dictionary? “What’s the matter? All shook up?” says the facetious Dixie. Bitter doesn’t become you, meece.

Jinks grabs the mice who yell for help. Sure enough, just like in The Bodyguard, the cat gets a fist in the face from the dog.



The blog’s revealed before that Marshall has an odd way of animation punches or hits without any contact. This time, he uses four drawings on ones. Here they are slowed down.

Jinks Punch

“So that’s the scoop-arooni, eh?” exclaims Jinks. How can you not love a cat that uses the word ‘scoop-arooni?’ Anyway, the cartoon emulates The Bodyguard some more as Jinks gets punched every time the meeces call for the dog. First “behind-st” a closed front door. Then in a closet (Dixie: “We have just begun to have fun, son.” Charlie, go away). Then Barbera lifts a gag right out of his old cartoon with a garbage can lid clobbering.




Marshall gives us a Jinks run cycle. It’s six drawings on twos. I’ve slowed it down.

Jinks Run

The cat darts under the front steps with the evil mice right behind. Yet another really ugly Jinks drawing from Marshall; the three have turned to zip under the steps. Pixie and Dixie drag Jinks out so he can get clobbered again.

The plot carries on with Barbera digging up more gags from a 15-year-old MGM cartoon as the meeces scream for help. Here they are. First, Jinks fills out his will.



Jinks prays.



But the dog doesn’t come. The dog catcher has him.



King Size lost his dog tag again. So the cartoon ends much the way it started, with the cat chasing the mice. See, meeces? If you had only been forgiving to Jinks, this never would have happened.



Only seven cues are used by the sound cutter (possibly Greg Watson) but, surprisingly, Jack Shaindin’s chase cue ‘Toboggan Run’ isn’t among them as it doesn’t seem to fit the story.


0:00 - Pixie and Dixie instrumental opening theme (Hanna-Barbera-Shows-Curtin).
0:26 - LAF-4-6 PIXIE PRANKS (Shaindlin) – Jink clobbers mice, dog wants help.
1:39 - TC 202 ECCENTRIC COMEDY (Loose-Seely) – Mice get dog license, dog promises help.
2:34 - TC 303 ZANY COMEDY (Loose-Seely) – Jinks sleeping, King Size punches him, punches cat through door, “Just keep comin’...”
4:31 - TC 300 ECCENTRIC COMEDY (Loose-Seely) – “You keep hollerin’,” closet scene, Jinks hides in garbage can.
5:34 - L 81 COMEDY UNDERSCORE (Moore) – Jinks sees mice, dragged out by mice, King Size in net.
6:35 - LAF-1-1 FISHY STORY (Shaindlin) – King Size apologies, Jinks has “another suggestion.”
6:50 - ZR 48 FAST MOVEMENT (Hormel) – “You’d better really start yelpin’...” Jinks chases mice.
7:10 - Pixie and Dixie closing theme (Curtin).

Yowp note: The unfortunately now-dead Alberto’s page at immaginariofiorentino.com stated Lew Marshall started at MGM in 1947. Former MGMer Martha Sigall says he was an assistant animator—there’s been speculation on the web he was Ray Patterson’s—before becoming a full animator in the studio’s last few years. He did some work on the side; a book called ‘All About Our Dog’ (1949) was illustrated by him and he worked on at least one ‘Flip ‘n’ Dip’ cartoons in Tom and Jerry comics for Western Publishing in 1953. Marshall was born in 1922 and died in 2002. There was a Lewis A. Marshall living in California born in 1922 who was drafted in 1942, but listed his occupation as a metalworker, like a tinsmith or coppersmith.

9 comments:

  1. Hans Perk saved a copy of the Alberto website.
    http://www.afilm.com/blog/AlbertosPage/index.html

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  2. IIRC, the vibrating gag also has an MGM Hanna-Barbera antecedent, when Spike waylays and vibrates Tom into the swimming pool in "Pup On A Picnic"

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  3. The Pixie and Dixie and Mr. Jinks cartoons often remind me of Hanna and Barbera's MGM days, even when the stories aren't swipes from their old Tom and Jerry cartoons, likely because many of the same artists worked on both series.

    Charlie Shows' rhyming dialogue isn't nearly as irritating as the shorts in which there is a narrator CONSTANTLY talking through the cartoon, even narrating what we can clearly see going on, most notably in "Cock-A-Doodle Huck", which would be a much better cartoon if you could edit out about half of the narrator's lines, IMHO.

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  4. J.L., there's one in one of the non T&J Spikes, too, drawn by Carlo Vinci it appears.

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  5. Yowp, about the Capitol Hi-Q music library, I think the unknown Indian cue from "Scat, Scout, Scat" might be found on either of these two Hi-Q volumes: M-117/118 or M-121/122. It could possibly be found on the link to this album:

    http://www.amazon.com/Adventures-Superman-Original-Television-Soundtrack/dp/B00508INCO

    This album has an Indian cue from the episode "Anonymous" told you about: "Test of a Warrior".

    Maybe, you can try buying the Superman soundtrack one or try finding those two Hi-Q volumes/reels I suggested the same way you found those other Hi-Q cues from Hanna-Barbera. Please respond to this comment by telling me what you think of this suggestion.

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  6. I linked to that on Amazon using the URL and recognized a few cues, but I don't recall them being from any specific episodes..I don't know if Yowp or anyone else has linked to that site..it's excellent for hearing music..I've listened to earleir George Reeves Superman soundtracks as well.

    Steve C.

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  7. Hi, MB. I don't have those 'M' reels because I gather they were pressed by Capitol in the '60s after the cartoons were made. The later reels feature Ib Glindemann-Ole Georg material (under various pseudonyms), and they sound very '60s.

    The link's interesting. Those cues were part of the old Mutel Library that had been leased by Capitol for its 'Q' library in 1952. They were lifted right from film soundtracks of the 1940s which accounts for their heavy orchestration, far heavier than the later Hi-Q library.

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  8. I didn't realize before reading this just how similar this was to The Bodyguard.

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  9. Very same plot appears yet in Tom and Jerry comics by Oscar Martin in early 90s in Norway

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