Saturday, March 31, 2012

Pixie and Dixie — Puss in Boats

Produced and Directed by Joe Barbera and Bill Hanna.
Credits: Animation – Dick Lundy, Layout – Paul Sommer, Backgrounds – Dick Thomas, Story – Mike Maltese, Story Director – Alex Lovy, Titles – Art Goble; Production Supervision – Howard Hanson.
Voice Cast: Pixie, French Cat – Don Messick; Dixie, Jinks – Daws Butler.
Music: Bill Loose/John Seely, Spence Moore, Geordie Hormel, Lou De Francesco, Raoul Kraushaar?.
First Aired: week of February 22, 1960 (rerun, week of August 1, 1960)
Episode: Huckleberry Hound Show K-39.
Plot: Jinks tries to get past a kicking Gallic cat and retrieve Pixie and Dixie on a French ocean liner.

Warren Foster was adept at fighting when the need arose, fellow Warner Bros. writer Lloyd Turner once observed. And perhaps that’s why Foster knew about the art of savate and incorporated it into this cartoon. You can read the history of it HERE.

This isn’t a bad little cartoon. There are some cute asides to the audience, and the timing’s good at the end which Jinks injures himself. Dick Lundy comes up with some nice angular stretches on the characters, though you can see how he could churn out footage if you check out how many times he uses cycles, eye blinks and holds on backgrounds. And I like the relationship between the cat and mice in Foster’s story.

The cartoon starts with Pixie and Dixie moving out forever because of the abuse Jinks inflicts on them. Right at the start, there’s little for Lundy to do. The shot is a close-up of the mouse hole on Dick Thomas’ background drawing. The camera trucks back to reveal Jinks standing there. The cat doesn’t even blink an eye for the first seven seconds. I like this little exchange:


Dixie: You got the tickets?
Pixie: Yup.
Dixie: Passports?
Pixie: Uh, huh. I picked them up while you were gettin’ your shots.

That’s right. Mice with passports and shots.

Jinks is lead to facetiousness and overacting when the mice tell him why they’re leaving. “You are breaking my heart,” is one of his phoney laments as he clutches his heart. Finally, he points and angrily tells the meeces to leave. The background drawing with the angular shadow on the wall was also in ‘Hi-Fido’ earlier in the season.



When the mice are gone, Jinks laughs about how peaceful it is with no meeces to make his life “miser-ab-ble.” Then his expression changes in five drawings on twos. I’ve slowed it down.

Jinks frowns

He starts crying. He wants his meeces back. Aww. It’s a shame TV animation forced Lundy to keep Jinks’ body on one cell and his head drawings on others. The body remains rigid while he cries which looks a little awkward.

Jinks follows them down the street up the gangway of a French ship. “Let’s let gone-byes be byegones,” he pleads. He’s tapped on the shoulder. It’s the ship’s cat, who claims all mice on the ship are his, and French. “Just one parlez-vous minute,” says Jinks (echoing Daffy Duck’s “Just a parbroiled minute,” during a cooking discussion in the Maltese-written ‘Duck! Rabbit, Duck!) as he explains there are two American meeces on board.. But when Pixie and Dixie appear, they speak French with the weakest accents imaginable, though the French cat is fully convinced.

Jinks (to French cat): Your mice, my foot.
French Cat: No, no, Monsieur. My mice, my foot.

That’s when the cat kicks Jinks off the ship into the water and Dixie explains savate to us all (though it keeps being pronounced “sabatt” during the whole cartoon). And when Pixie and Dixie tell the French cat they want to go home to their mouse hole and Jinks, he threatens to kick them, too. Then he locks them in the hold. Oh, you just know M. Chat is going to get his.



The meece cry for help. Jinks’ hears them and does his best to rescue them. Lundy gets a chance to stretch the characters a bit. First Jinks dashes along the wharf and up the gangway. He’s kicked back down off-camera (all we see is Jinks rolling backward on the wharf). Then he hangs onto a rope and inches his way toward a porthole on the ship. “Okay, wise guy, there’s more than one way to skin a cat,” he cries. Then he stops and turns to the audience. “Shee. Whoever started that expression?” Cut to Jinks in the porthole. The French cat apparently loves Frank Sinatra. “One for my baby and one more for the road,” he exclaims as he kicks Jinks out of the porthole.



Dixie sees Jinks taking a beating and decides they have to save him. Wait a minute. I thought they couldn’t get out and that’s why they were yelling for Jinks to help them. Well, let’s ignore that for now. Pixie ties a rope to the French cat’s tail while Dixie ties the other end to a signal rocket. Look at the stretches.



More Sinatra, this time from the Cole Porter songbook. The French cat says of Jinks “I get a kick out of ‘eem.” Jinks comes up the stairs onto the deck. The French cat is about to kick him accompanied with his “Viva la savate!” cry when he’s suddenly pulled off the ship by the rocket and disappears into the distance. So it turns out the climax, as Frank might sing, involves flying too high with some guy in the sky.



We switch to the Wizard of Oz as the meece tell Jinks they’ve learned “there’s no place like home.” Jinks has learned something, too. The French cat’s savate foot work. He starts chasing the mice. The last gag’s set up really well. Jinks misses the first time his leg takes a swing at the mice. The second time, he unexpectedly kicks a table that happens to appear. He dances around in pain. It’s pretty funny. And the meece pulls a Scooby by laughing together as the cartoons fades out.

There’s no Sinatra on the soundtrack, but we get that echo-ey clarinet and muted trumpet cue that may have been written by Raoul Kraushaar. And there’s a galop by Lou De Francesco, The March of Time’s musical director before Jack Shaindlin.


0:00 - Pixie and Dixie Main Title theme (Curtin, Hanna, Barbera, Shows).
0:13 - TC-202 ECCENTRIC COMEDY (Loose-Seely) – Pixie and Dixie bid Jinks goodbye, Jinks emotes “You are breakin’ my heart.”
1:09 - C-3 DOMESTIC CHILDREN (Loose) – “How can I ever get along...,” meeces leave, Jinks lonesome.
1:50 - L-1139 ANIMATION COMEDY (Moore) – Jinks wants to talk to meeces.
2:03 - L-75 COMEDY UNDERSCORE (Moore) – Jinks chases after meeces, meeces scurry up gang plant, Jinks on deck calls out to meeces.
2:44 - C-14 DOMESTIC LIGHT (Loose) – Tap on shoulder, “Mice on board are mine.”
3:10 - ZR-51 LIGHT ANIMATION (Hormel) – “Oh, now look...,” Pixie and Dixie have fake accents, Jinks kicked, lands in water, French cat threatens meece.
4:32 - creepy reverb muted trumpet (?) – Meece call to Jinks through porthole, Jinks runs off scene.
5:02 - SF-10 SKI(ING) GALOP (DeFrancesco) – Jinks runs on deck, kicked off boat.
5:15 - GROTESQUE No 2 (Shaindlin) – Jinks on rope, kicked out of porthole, Pixie ties French cat’s tail.
5:57 - LAF-5-20 TOBOGGAN RUN (Shaindlin) – Pixie runs away, French cat zooms into the distance.
6:13 - TC-437 SHOPPING DAY (Loose-Seely) – Pixie, Dixie and Jinks in living room, Jinks kicks.
6:30 - SF-10 SKI(ING) GALOP (DeFrancesco) – Meece leap into the air, Jinks kicks table.
6:57 - Pixie and Dixie Sub End Title theme (Curtin).

Yowp Note: With this cartoon, the blog has reviewed all 13 cartoons in Pixie and Dixie’s second season on the air.

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