Saturday, March 17, 2012

Augie Doggie — Gone to the Ducks

Produced and Directed by Bill Hanna and Joe Barbera.
Credits: Animation – Ken Muse, Layouts – Dick Bickenbach, Backgrounds – Dick Thomas, Story – Mike Maltese, Story Sketches – Dan Gordon, Titles – Art Goble, Production Supervision – Howard Hanson.
Voice Cast: Augie, Cat Burglar – Daws Butler; Doggie Daddy, Radio Announcer – Doug Young; Duck – Red Coffey.
Music: Phil Green, Harry Bluestone-Emil Cadkin, Jack Shaindlin, Hecky Krasnow.
First aired: week of January 25, 1960 (rerun, week of July 25, 1960)
Episode: Quick Draw McGraw Show M-018, Production J-59.
Plot: An orphan duck moves in to the Daddy home, much to the consternation of Doggie Daddy.

The phone jangled in Mike Maltese’s office. It was Joe Barbera on the line.
“Mike,” asked the boss, “Remember that duck that everyone loved in the Tom and Jerry cartoons?”
“Uh, kind of,” replied Maltese, cautiously.
“And he was a scream when we used him in those two Yogi Bear cartoons last season, right?”
“If you say so, Joe.” Maltese was afraid of what was coming.
“I want you to stick him in a cartoon this season,” Joe suggested, though the tone was more than one of a suggestion.
“How about if El Kabong bashes him with a guitar and we bury him on Tombstone Hill, population one dead duck?” offered Mike.
“Don’t be funny. Well, do be funny. In the cartoons, that is. And find a place for our duck,” Joe firmly stated before hanging up the phone.

Now, this conversation really didn’t happen. For one thing, Maltese may have been working from home in his first couple of years with the studio. But Joe and Bill Hanna loved that duck. He was already part of the studio’s marketing campaign (along with a certain yowping dog) as Biddy Buddy. So Maltese, whether at Barbera’s behest or not, stuck him in this cartoon before reworking him the following season into Yakky Doodle.



Maltese’s duck is pretty much the same as the other versions. He’s an orphan (even coming to tears at the end of one scene about his fate in life) but what’s really odd about him in this cartoon is something that happens at the start. After a beautiful establishing background by Dick Thomas, we find rifle-toting Doggie Daddy and Augie in a duck blind. Augie’s weary from blowing a duck call with no results. Then the happy proto-Yakky strolls into the cartoon. The dialogue.


Duck: Is this a gun?
Daddy: Yes, dis is a gun.
Duck: Are you going to shoot me?
Daddy: Well, now, dat’s dee accepted theory.
Duck: Okay. Go ahead.

The duck then leans against a rock, waiting to get blasted.

What I don’t understand is—why? If this were a Daffy Duck cartoon, we’d know he was merely engaging in a ruse to lull the hunter into a false sense of security only to do something violent to him. That doesn’t happen here. Does he piteously want someone to end his life because he’s an orphan? No, he’s not suicidal. He’s just lonely and wants friends. Does he know that Daddy isn’t going to pull the trigger? Nothing shows that he’s gotten into Daddy’s head and is smart enough to understand his motivation.

Setting that aside, the story is well structured. And, no, Daddy doesn’t shoot him. That would end the cartoon before the two-minute mark. Daddy does the standard cartoon reluctant slow count to three, where a character adds fractions because he doesn’t want to follow through with his threat. In Maltese’s case, he finds something different to use as a gag. One of the fractions is 2 and 17/16ths (which doesn’t exist).

Doggie Daddy tells the duck to go home to mommy and daddy, but then proto-Yakky reveals he has no mommy or daddy. Daddy is unmoved; he saved the duck’s life and that’s enough. Daddy tells the duck he and Augie are going home. The orphan duck now becomes deluded stalker duck, where he has decided he is now a member of the Doggie family and Daddy is his daddy, too. The duck follows along, constantly squawking “goodbye” as a bait-and-switch. When Daddy turns around and informs him they already said “goodbye,” the duck then says “Then I say ‘Hello, I’m glad to see you. Are you glad to see me’?” Daddy’s not. And the duck won’t go away voluntarily. So Daddy uses some “stra-gedy.” He plays “fetch” with the duck. And when the bird goes to get the stick, Daddy and Augie take off in their convertible. Now the duck feels sorry for himself. “Nobody wants an orphan duck,” he says between sniffs.



The next scene’s at home. Daddy is trying to console Augie by saying “a little wild duck belongs in da wild blue yonder.” “But, dad, he’s a tame wild one,” is Augie’s response. Daddy now emulates Jimmy Durante’s mangling of words: “Dat’s an amphibious statement, if I ever hoid one.” The scene’s interrupted by the stalker duck rapping on the window. Daddy gives in and lets him stay for the night.

Well, maybe it’s not for the night. The duck echoes Augie and says “Good night, dear old dad.” Daddy responds “Good night, my sons, my sons,” and muses how to legally adopt a duck before he stops and stares at the camera in shock when he realises what he’s just said. The duck isn’t as much as a pain as he was to Yogi when the bear let him sleep for the night in ‘Slumber Party Smarty’ (Yogi can’t take him anymore so the bear ‘flies south’ for the winter). But he does ask for a drink of water and then never stops drinking. The portion of the cartoon where the duck drinks from an oaken bucket lasts 30 seconds before Daddy finally cracks a line to the camera: “Will morning never come? You’d after 30 seconds, he’d come up with something a little stronger.

The scene is interrupted by a bulletin on the radio about a cat burglar in the neighbourhood (or, as Doggie Daddy says it, “a cat bur-gurglar” like Augie did in ‘Watchdog Augie’ earlier in the season). Sure enough, the cat burglar shows up at the open bedroom window. We know he’s the cat burglar because he goes “meow.” Yeah, it’s hokey but it’s still funny. Half-asleep Daddy think he’s Augie until Augie, in bed, informs him otherwise. Who is it? “I’ll give you a hint. Meow. Meoww. Hiss.” Right on cue, Augie and Daddy cry “The cat burglar!” Augie and Daddy run, but the duck comes to rescue. Reminiscent of the climax of Hanna and Barbera’s ‘Kitty Foiled’ (1948), when the canary flew into a closet, grabbed a bowling ball, and dropped it to stop Tom from getting at Jerry, the duck does the same thing. The only difference is he slams the ball into the crook’s head and does it with superfluous dialogue; the action speaks for itself). See the brushwork before the ball-burglar collision?



The finale has Daddy on the phone to the cops, with the tied-up crook next to him. “Your cat burglar has burgled his last burg,” he says (I think; the Durante voice gets in the way a bit). Pan over to what used to be a watchdog house (Wait a minute. A pair of dogs owned a dog?). “After all,” says Daddy, “How many people (?!) can say dey’ve got a real, genuine watch duck?” The duck ends it in a close-up, barking and then laughing at the camera, as so many future Hanna-Barbera cartoons ended (usually after the words “Scooby-rooby-roo”).



The unnamed duck (he’s not called “Biddy Buddy” on screen after the two Yogi cartoons) returned the following season in ‘Yuk, Yuk, Duck’ and ‘Let’s Duck Out’, in the Snooper and Blabber cartoon ‘De-Duck-Tives’, and the Loopy de Loop short ‘This is My Ducky Day’ (also written by Maltese). It would appear these cartoons were in production before the germination of The Yogi Bear Show, where the duck got promoted to his own series.

A couple of notes about the music. The rendition of ‘London Bridge’ is the same arrangement as another tune used in the H-B cartoons which seems to incorporate the opening bar of ‘London Bridge’ several times. I don’t know which library it’s from. And because Hanna-Barbera licensed the Capitol Hi-Q library, the sound cutter would know the cue when Augie is in bed as ‘5-EM-131E Lullaby’ which is as appropriate as its original name of ‘Bedtime Story.’


0:00 - Augie Doggie Main Title theme (Curtin, Hanna, Barbera)
0:25 - GR-65 BUSH BABY (Green) – Augie and Daddy in duck blind.
0:49 - London Bridge (Trad.) – Duck strolls onto scene.
1:04 - CB-86A HIDE AND SEEK (Cadkin-Bluestone) – Daddy aimed rifle at duck, counts, “2 and 17/16ths.”
1:41 - CB-83A MR TIPPY TOES (Cadkin-Bluestone) – “Two, and, and...,” Duck is an orphan, Duck says “Goodbye.”
2:05 - GR-258 THE TIN DRAGOONS (Green) – Daddy and Augie walk away, duck follows, “We already said goodbye.”
2:20 - GR-155 PARKS AND GARDENS (Green) – “Then I say ‘hello’...,” duck runs after stick.
2:54 - LAF-117-1 MAD RUSH No 1 (Shaindlin) – “And here we go, Augie,” duck sorry for itself.
3:11 - GR-257 BEDTIME STORY (Green) – Augie in bed, duck at window, duck allowed in, wants drink of water.
4:26 - EM-107D LIGHT MOVEMENT (Green) – Duck glugs down water, radio says “Attention!”
5:25 - COMEDY SUSPENSE (Shaindlin) – Announcer warns of cat burglar, burglar breaks into home, rushes off to steal silverwear.
6:24 - fast circus chase music (Shaindlin) – Duck gets bowling ball, drops it on burglar’s head.
6:45 - THE HAPPY COBBLER (Krasnow) – Daddy on phone to police, duck barks like dog.
7:08 - Augie Doggie End Title theme (Curtin).

8 comments:

  1. The opening starts off as if it's gong to be Maltese's take on Tedd Perce's "Life With Feathers'", which Mike may also have done sorry work on. Whether of not Kellogg's would have gone for an entire cartoon based on the guest star wanting to have the title characters kill him is another question.

    Also, you've got to wonder how much frustration with the duck the staff got out in 1966 when they re-did the closing titles for Huckleberry Hound to remove the Kellogg's characters, and had Yakky take the tent cross-beam to the head in place of Tony Jr.

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  2. This cartoon, practically in its entirety, was played during the 1977 special "Yabba Dabba Doo: The Happy World of Hanna-Barbera" that ran on CBS on Thanksgiving evening. The main body of the cartoon was shown during the show and then repeated during the end credits rolling. My mom and my grandma thought it was the cutest thing that they had ever seen. It's one of the finer moments for Yakky Doodle.

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  3. Matter-of-speaking here, had Yakky / Prototype Yakky been typecast to resemble more of Jimmy Weldon's own character, Webster Webfoot, then he might have been a little more bearable for some. Both were pretty much round the same time, I think and least then the little guy would have more than an orphan schtick to go for gag-wise.

    In fact, "De-Duck-Tives" has the most unexplained ending of the Snooper and Blabber series. They go for all that trouble to find the duck, and rather than hand him in for the reward they have Blab play "Momma". Sheesh... =P

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  4. Yakky stopping just long enough to request, "More", then resuming his guzzling always gets a laugh out of me, along with the throat crushing chest drawer gag in the aforementioned Yogi cartoon.

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  5. The duck even turned up in an episode of "The Tom and Jerry/Grape Ape Show".

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  6. "Yowp-Yowp" Dodsworth,

    It's impossible to compare the proto-Yakky Doodle's innocence with the Daffy Duck's hysterics.

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  7. Nice sketch at the beggining. However, don't think it was Joe Barbera who was wacky about yakky.

    Might have been William Hanna, who even directed, produced and wrote another cartoon featuring another duck named Hard Luck for The Cartoon Cartoon Cartoon Show in 1996.

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