Saturday, 30 June 2012

Huckleberry Hound — Pet Vet

Produced and Directed by Bill Hanna and Joe Barbera.
Credits: Animation – Carlo Vinci; Layout – Dick Bickenbach; Backgrounds – Dick Thomas; Story – Warren Foster; Story Director – Alex Lovy; Titles – Lawrence Goble; Production Supervision – Howard Hanson.
Voice Cast: Huckleberry Hound – Daws Butler; Narrator, Kitten, Lion – Hal Smith.
Music: Geordie Hormel, Bill Loose/John Seely, Jack Shaindlin, unknown.
First Aired: week of Jan. 18, 1960 (rerun, week of July 11, 1960)
Production No. K-036
Plot: Veterinarian Huck treats a lion with a sore tooth.

This cartoon has the Huckleberry Hound everyone thinks of, the good-natured guy who gets pounded around a bit (and comments to the audience about it) but kind of wins in the end.

Huck has his problems with animals, doesn’t he? Setting aside more dog-like dogs stealing his steaks or stopping him from delivering the mail, he got attacked while trying to rescue a kitten and tame a lion in season one, and in this cartoon he’s assailed by a bulldog and another lion.

There isn’t really a lot to say about the cartoon, other than to quickly go through the story.

“This picture is dedicated,” Warren Foster’s script begins once again, “to the animals’ friend, the veterinarian.” The camera trucks in to Dick Thomas’ background drawing of an animal hospital and then there’s a pan over sick animals. Hal Smith lends his voice to the narrator and the kittens mewing.

Cue Huck walking down the hallway past the same emergency fire hose in the wall three times. “Animals can’t talk,” philosophises Huck, “but, um, their own way of expressin’ their feelings.” A bulldog shows his by biting Huck. We get a two-drawing shake take from Carlo Vinci, which I’ve slowed down.

Huck bite

The phone rings. There’s a roar on the phone. “Sounds like a im-pacted wisdom tooth,” diagnoses Huck. He strolls along the grounds of the city zoo (singing ‘Clementine’) to the lion cage. The gags:

● Huck goes in the cage and tells the lion here’s there to help. The word “help” quickly becomes a cry for one as Huck rushes from out of walled cage and pushes the door closed on the lion’s grasping paw.

● The old gag of hammering on each tooth to see which one’s causing the trouble. We get pain drawings of the lion. “Come on, now, you have to help me. Was that insensitive?” says the clueless Huck. The lion responds by throwing Huck through the door (no animation of the throwing; we see him sail through the closed door) and into a tree. “Well, we’re makin’ progress,” Huck tells the audience.

● Huck tries to hog-tie the lion to work on the tooth. The lion hog-ties Huck instead. Again, we don’t see the action; there’s just a camera shake on a background drawing of the lion cage wall and door. “First lion I ever did see that could tie a decent knot,” Huck observes.

● Soda-phan something-or-other is in a huge needle to put the lion to sleep. Yeah, you guessed it. The needle’s in Huck’s butt. There’s a ten-second hold on the same background drawing as above, with a few camera shakes. Carlo has it easy in this one.

● Huck gives the lion a hotfoot. The idea is to swoop down on a road into the cage when the lion yells and pull out the bad tooth with a pair of pliers. It sure sounds like Hal Smith yelling “Yeeeowww” for Huck here. Pan to the lion’s closed mouth with Huck inside. He pushes open the jaws. “My timin’ was off just a smidgeon,” he reckons to the viewers.

● Huck’s in the lion’s mouth pulling on the tooth. “Close your mouth a little,” he keeps suggesting to the lion. Again, you know what’s going to happen. “Open, I suggest,” yells Huck. He jumps out and makes a stretch-diving exit while the animal swipes at him with his claws. Fosters pulls a Tex Avery-type gag. “You gotta be right fast. Those lion claws are really sharp.” Huck’s feet walk away, separating him into four parts.

● Time for a game. Huck ties a string to his tooth and gets the lion to do the same. “Now, when I count three, we’ll pull the string.” The lion pulls Huck’s string and removes a tooth.

● A string from the lion’s mouth is attached to Huck’s jeep (aka “four-wheeled forsep”). Huck drives away. “When that string tightens, that old tooth is going to go, go, go,” says Huck. The camera pulls back to reveal the proud lion, string still attached to the tooth, riding in the back of the jeep. Fade to black.

You may notice when Huck first meets up with the King of Beasts, the bum tooth is on the lion’s right side, but changes to the left side when we see him in the lion’s mouth and for the rest of the cartoon.

There’s not much more to say about the cartoon. Not too silly. Not a lot of satire. Just a string of gags on a premise that probably dates back to silent film comedy shorts.

The music’s fairly typical. Two snatches of ‘Clementine’ on a small electric organ, like the kind you’d hear on radio game shows 60 years ago, make an appearance. Whether Hoyt Curtin recorded it solo, or if it’s from a production library, I don’t know.

0:00 - Huckleberry Hound Sub Main title theme (Curtin).
0:14 - ZR-45 METROPOLITAN (Hormel) – Shot of clinic, pan of dogs and cats.
0:32 - TC-432 HOLLY DAY (Loose-Seely) – Dog bites Huck, on phone with lion.
1:08 - Clementine (Curtin?) – Huck strolls in zoo.
1:17 - GROTESQUE No 2 (Shaindlin) – Lion roars, Huck goes into lion cage, runs out, closes door.
2:10 - TC-204A WISTFUL COMEDY (Loose-Seely) – Huck at door, hammers on teeth, in tree.
3:10 - CB-86A HIDE AND SEEK (Cadkin/Bluestone) – Rope scene.
3:36 - TC-301 ZANY WALTZ (Loose-Seely) – Shot scene.
4:11 - TC-202 ECCENTRIC COMEDY (Loose-Seely) – Huck gives hotfoot.
4:16 - LAF-2-12 ON THE RUN (Shaindlin) – Huck runs, on tree, lands in mouth.
4:34 - TC-303 ZANY COMEDY (Loose-Seely) – Huck in lion’s mouth, Huck with pliers, divides into four.
5:16 - LAF-27-6 UNTITLED TUNE (Shaindlin) – Lion pulls Huck’s tooth scene.
6:11 - LAF-7-12 FUN ON ICE (Shaindlin) – Huck talks to lion.
6:23 - Clementine (Curtin?) – Huck strolls to jeep, lion nods.
6:42 - LICKETY SPLIT (Shaindlin) – Huck starts engine, lion in jeep.
6:58 - Huckleberry Hound Sub End Title theme (Curtin).


  1. 1. The old dei ve of a toothache suffer wearing a bandana/bandage tied around his head.

    2. The classic Geordie Hormel "ZR-45 Mettropolkitan" opens.

    3. Cadkin and Bluestone's "CB-86A Hide and Seek", marking an appearance by Cadkin/Bluestone.

    4.Finally one of a couple of Huck Hound cartoons with Huck as a benefactor to our REAL four legged friends, since Huck's a "dog", along with Season three's "Nutts over Mutts".Steve

  2. Greg Chenoweth30 June 2012 at 11:21

    It always amusing to me how Huck tends to animals as a vet when he himself is an animal. It's like Quick Draw McGraw riding a horse in his cartoons. Is that really supposed to happen?

  3. To me this is the quintessential Huck in that he's supposed to be a professional tending to 'dumb' animals, but is basically incompetent. A shame, because his friendly, easygoing manner would normally be an asset.

    This cartoon gives a great example of Huck's misguided attempt at trickery with the 'string game'. The way he talks to the lion as if it were a mentally challenged child ("Ha-ha. This is a fun game.") is quite endearing, especially since we all know who's really in charge.

  4. In addition to agreeing with Howard, I also like the LOOK of Huck here!

    This is him as handsome and streamlined a character as he gets.

    “Spud Dud” is another carton where he has that look. Can’t say he always had it though.

    Also, can’t name too many more, because they’re not on DVD for me to check.

  5. This is the only Huck cartoon made after his initial season that's animated by Carlo Vinci. So he may look a bit more 'polished' than Vinci's 1958-59 rendition. The same can be said for any Seasons 2 and 3 Yogi and Meece cartoons animated by Vinci. As production continued, the animators generally got more of a handle on the regular characters.