Saturday, February 18, 2012

Pixie and Dixie — Goldfish Fever

Produced and Directed by Bill Hanna and Joe Barbera.
Credits: Animation – Dick Lundy; Layout – Dick Bickenbach; Backgrounds – Bob Gentle; Story – Mike Maltese; Story Direction – Alex Lovy; Titles – Art Goble; Production Supervision – Howard Hanson.
Voice Cast: Mr. Jinks, Dixie, Bulldog, Man – Daws Butler; Pixie, Woman – Don Messick.
Music: Jack Shaindlin, Spence Moore, Bill Loose.
Production: Huckleberry Hound Show K-37.
First Aired: week of January 25, 1960 (rerun, week of July 18, 1960)
Plot: Pixie and Dixie try to stop Jinks from eating the goldfish in the neighbours’ pond.

Two of Jinks’ 13 cartoons in the 1959-60 season involved him going uncontrollably gooney over something he had to catch and eat—a canary (“Bird Brained Cat”) and goldfish (this cartoon).

You might wonder why he just doesn’t catch and eat Pixie and Dixie. But it doesn’t appear Mr. Jinks has any desire to eat mice. He just doesn’t like them and wants to bash them. Sometimes. In this cartoon, they’re friends, much like they are in “Bird Brained Cat” as they tried to stop Jinks from going after the fish next door because they know he’ll get clobbered by the dog he teased at the start of the cartoon. It turns out in the surprise ending he does not.

The ending’s pretty much the highlight. There’s plenty of rambling dialogue about “golden fish” that allows Daws Butler (as Jinks) to get excitable, but no words he can bend around like we’re used to hearing. Still, Daws gets several different emotions out of ol’ Jinksie. Dick Lundy is the animator. He plunks out some angular drawings and a couple of cross-eyed looks, but there’s nothing all that distinctive with his takes. There are a couple of re-used cycles, eg. one with Jinks running right to left with his arms straight out, and six seconds of nothing but Pixie and Dixie nodding their heads while Jinks talks off camera. I guess Joe Barbera told Alex Lovy to save some money on this one by getting Lundy to draw less.

There’s also a perspective problem in the first scene. Jinks is atop a stone wall, dangling his tail as bait for the dog on the other side to chomp on. It’s on a cycle. Dog leaps up, Jinks moves tail before dog chomps. Happens again. Then the third time, the dog chomps but Jinks doesn’t move the tail. Why isn’t it bitten off?

Lundy comes up with a stiff-legged walk cycle, eight drawings on twos, as Jinks goes to mice to gloat to them about how he made a chump out of the bulldog next door. Dixie warns that the bulldog will catch him eventually. Jinks ignores the warning and strolls toward the front door. Lundy uses an entirely different, and bland, walk cycle. Jinks’ plan to tease the dog is stopped when he sees the neighbour pouring a bucket of goldfish into a pond. Don Messick does the wife’s voice in falsetto and, though you can’t see it because part of the frame below is cut off, her lips never move when Messick reads the line.



Sadly, Jinks first reaction to seeing the delicious goldfish is having his pupils shrink. That’s the take. And Jinks is talking, which would distract from any real take anyway. Jinks tells the meece he’s struck “golden fish” next door and is going to stake his claim. He climbs the wall of the living room in cycle animation. Daws is giving his best excited, rambling read but the sound cutter has elected to use the quiet Jack Shaindlin tune ‘Pixie Pranks,’ which doesn’t fit the scene at all. Writer Warren Foster now pads for time as Pixie and Dixie head to an encyclopaedia to discuss the meaning of goldfish fever. The meece try keeping Jinks away from the fish by holding his tail. He gets away, giggling crazily. “Gee, if this keeps up,” Dixie says, looking at cat hairs in his hands, “Jinksie’ll have a bald-headed tail.”

Foster extends the gold-claim analogy by having Jinks pan for fish in the pond. Best gag in the cartoon. As Dixie warned, the dog wakes up, punches the delirious cat (prattling on about being “Klondike rich”) in the face, then sending him over the stone wall back into his own yard. The meece look up and follow his flight path to the ground with an explosion sound.



The meece try to get Jinks mind off goldfish. Unfortunately, they pick the tale of King Midas. Before Dixie can get to the word “gold,” Jinks fills in the blank with “golden fish.” Jinks gets excited in his basket. Cue the running-with-arms-out animation. Cue the Jinks-panning animation. Cue the meece-following-flight-of-Jinks animation. Cue the stars-from-beat-up-Jinks animation. Jinks is right. It’s a “Banana-za” of savings on the budget by reusing animation.

Next scene: Jinks has a rope tied to his tail. It won’t let him reach the whatcha-ma-call-its. “You mean the goldfish?” Pixie asks. That sets Jinks off in heel-clicking joy. Cue the running-with-arms-out animation. But the rope does its job. It stops Jinks in mid-air on the other side of the fence. The dog drops the unconscious cat back on the other side.



Jinks wakes up in his basket. He imagines Pixie and Dixie to be goldfish. Nice little popping sound effect and bursting star drawing during the transformation scene. Jinks snaps out of it and rushes off when Pixie says “goldfish” (Lundy has the meeces somersaulting in the air when Jinks drops them, a bit of throwaway animation that would be superfluous in later years). Cue the running-with-arms-out animation.

Jinks peers into the fish pond. The dog confronts him. Note the anticipation drawing as Jinks dips up and into the dog’s face. Next shot is of the stone fence, we hear a clunk sound and the dog flies against it. Then a close-up of the dog. “I can’t understand what that cat wants with Siamese fightin’ goldfish,” he says to the viewer. “They’ll tear ‘im apart.” Jinks dives into the pond. Bubbles rise to the surface. There are yapping sounds. Jinks shoots upward in pain. Then the goldfish leap above the water, barking like dogs. Seems to me H-B used this concept again in future cartoons. Or was it in a Chuck Jones Tom and Jerry? It’s familiar anyway.



The final shot has Jinks unrolling the top of a sardine can, informing the meece that these fish never fight back. “We cowards must stick together,” Jinks tells us. I guess “sticking together” means “eating them.”

Jack Shaindlin’s cues fill most of the cartoon. The cutter uses lots of little snippets. There’s one cue I can’t identify with symphonic-sounding strings. It sounds like a Sam Fox library cue, maybe by Lou De Francesco. It was used in Snooper and Blabber’s “Cloudy Rowdy,” the Augie Doggie short “Skunk You Very Much” and at least one other cartoon.

0:00 - Pixie and Dixie Main Title theme (Curtin, Hanna, Barbera, Shows).
0:13 - medium circus march (Shaindlin) – Jinks bashes bulldog with garbage can lid.
0:28 - LAF-21-3 RECESS (Shaindlin) – Pixie and Dixie at window, Jinks talks to meeces, looks over stone wall, fish poured into pond.
1:35 - LAF-4-6 PIXIE PRANKS (Shaindlin) – Jinks at stone wall, talks to meece, climbs wall, meece read encyclopaedia.
2:30 - LICKETY SPLIT (Shaindlin) – Pixie and Dixie can’t hold Jinks.
2:37 - L-1139 ANIMATION COMEDY (Moore) – Meece with clumps of fur.
2:43 - LAF-72-2 RODEO DAY (Shaindlin) – Sleeping dog, Jinks pans for fish, crash.
3:05 - L-78 COMEDY UNDERSCORE (Moore) – Meece talk to each other, “...wish by a fairy queen.”
3:37 - L-80 COMEDY UNDERSCORE (Moore) – “The King, whose name...,”
3:50 - light symphonic music with strings (unknown) – Jinks runs, pans for fish, crash.
4:08 - LAF-4-6 PIXIE PRANKS (Shaindlin) – Pixie and Dixie talk, rope on Jinks.
4:35 - rising scale circus music (Shaindlin) – Sound of Jinks running, rope stops Jinks.
4:57 - variation on Boxing Greats No 2 (Shaindlin) – Jinks crashes, dog drops him over wall.
5:13 - LAF-1-1 FISHY STORY (Shaindlin) – Meece drag Jinks on floor, Jinks wakes up.
5:26 - C-14 DOMESTIC LITE (Loose) – Meece turn into goldfish and back again, Jinks runs to pond, clobbers dog, dog talks to camera.
6:23 - LAF-72-2 RODEO DAY (Shaindlin) – “They’ll tear ‘im apart,” Jinks flies from pond.
6:37 - medium circus march (Shaindlin) – Dog talks to camera, Jinks opens sardine can.
6:56 - Pixie and Dixie End Title theme (Curtin).

3 comments:

  1. Every time I come to this site, the images just send me back to those days of watching the first run of these cartoons. It actually still gives me a small thrill and reinforces my love of the medium. Keep up the great work.

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  2. Hmm..I think the unidentied string cue is from George Chase of Major/Valentino. But that's just my wild guess. The medium circus march used in Ruff and Reddy and in some other Pixie and DIxies,a nd Huck, is used here {Shaindlin]. I had misrememebred the "Raoul Kraushaar"/Omar spooky trumpet cue in the hilarious "meece-as-goldfoish" scene [which, LOL, is one of my personal favorites in this short].

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  3. “Goldfish Fever” was my second favorite P&D of the Foster Era -- the first being “Heavens to Jinksy”! (At least I have one of them on “legal DVD”!)

    In both cases, Foster revisits themes he employed at Warners , as did H&B (for “Heavens”) with Tom and Jerry! He DID have a flare for “addicted characters”… Sylvester, Jinks, and Fred. The latter with both food AND betting.

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