Saturday, July 21, 2012

Augie Doggie — Pipsqueak Pop

Produced and Directed by Bill Hanna and Joe Barbera.
Credits: Animation – Ken Muse; Layout – Ed Benedict; Backgrounds – Dick Thomas; Story – Mike Maltese; Story Sketches – Dan Gordon; Titles – Art Goble; Production Supervision – Howard Hanson.
Voices: Augie, Caterpillar, Cat, Irish Cop – Daws Butler; Doggie Daddy – Doug Young.
Music: Phil Green, Harry Bluestone/Emil Cadkin, Hecky Krasnow, Jack Shaindlin, Spencer Moore, unknown.
Episode: Quick Draw McGraw Show M-016, Production J-53.
First aired: week of January 11, 1960 (rerun, week of July 4, 1960)
Plot: Doggie Daddy shrinks, thanks to a reducing potion by Augie.

One has to wonder if the science fiction film ‘The Incredible Shrinking Man’ (1957) sparked Hanna-Barbera cartoon plots where the main character had to cope with being made small. It happened to Mr Jinks in ‘Dinky Jinks’ (1958) and it happens to Doggie Daddy in this cartoon. Other than Tom shrinking after glugging down a mixture at the end of ‘Dr Jekyll and Mr Mouse’ (1947), I can’t think of any place where the main character went through this kind of ordeal before this cartoon, though I suppose the start of ‘Alice in Wonderland’ could qualify.

Unlike the others, this cartoon is structured around gags involving Daddy coping with being tiny and ordinary things being huge. And Maltese sticks with the Augie-Daddy template: Augie’s a boy genius in a science lab, Daddy unwillingly goes along with his experiments, an Irish cop played by Daws Butler is sceptical at first, then realises he’s actually seeing what he’s seeing (and makes a crack to the audience). Even the stock music cues are familiar as the sound-cutter loads up on the C&B Library music of Harry Bluestone and Emil Cadkin.

Oh, and we have the usual faux-Durante mangling of dialogue, too. Daddy, reading the Sunday paper in the bathtub, asks Augie what problem the boy wants him to “circle-vent” and then responds with “Irrevocabularily, no” when his son asks him to drink his latest formula. But Daddy, with “trepid-deditation,” asks how it works. “A few drops in the tub,” says Augie, “and you’ll feel slim and trim.” “Well, since I feel plump and dumpy, what can I lose?” Daddy asks himself.

Unfortunately, there’s a lot of padding going on. It takes two minutes and ten seconds into the cartoon before Daddy shrinks. And Maltese just can’t come up with wisecracks during that time. The shrunken Daddy is on a bar of soap. Augie pulls the plug on the tub. “No, Augie, no. I’ll go down the drain. Anyhow, I’ll go down with my ship.” Later, as Daddy pops up through the sink “You’d better stop now, son, before you strain the drain.” That’s about the best Maltese can muster. Another 11 seconds is taken up with Augie in a walk cycle and saying “I’ll save you.” By the time all this is done, the cartoon’s more than half over.



Things start picking up a bit. A bird sees Daddy’s tail wagging and thinks it’s a worm. He plucks Daddy off a window sill and flies him into a bird house. There’s a familiar metallic clunk which, as all Hanna-Barbera fans know, means Daddy’s punched out the bird (All we see is the outside of the bird house. Saves animation). The bird rushes out with a shocked look and flies away. “I’ll thank you to have a little more respect for a bird dog.” The next little scene is typical Maltese and is my favourite part of the cartoon. While Daddy walks among tall blades of grass and finds a missing golf ball, there’s a snare drum sound and a camera shake. A caterpillar marches past Daddy and lifts his hat. “Good morning, friend,” he cheerfully says, and casually marches off stage right. It’s just something out of nowhere Maltese tossed in for the sake of something odd. “You know, I’d hate to buy shoes for that cater-ta-pillar,” Daddy remarks to the camera.



The scene is interrupted by a shot of a cat singing “lum-tee-dum-dum” to himself and rummaging through a garbage can. Daddy kicks him in the butt. The cat puts on glasses because he can’t believe he’s seeing a little dog. No, cat, it’s not a fly speck on the glasses. Say, that cat’s design by Ed Benedict is a little familiar, isn’t it?

Daddy realises there’s now a size difference between him and the cat, who is now armed with a fly swatter to play “Swat the dog”. Daddy escapes into a storm drain. Fortunately, Augie is armed with a broom to play “Swat the cat.” He uses the same broom with gum on the end to rescue Daddy from the drain.

You can’t mistake Benedict is at work on this cartoon. Look at the aforementioned Irish cop. Angular oval eyes, lump in the back of the neck and a wide grin. And, like every other Irish cop in a Hanna-Barbera cartoon, he is stunned by what he sees (“And a top of da mornin’ to you, officer,” the teeny Daddy says to him) and reacts looks at the camera. “‘Tis a sick, sick policeman I am, that’s for sure,” he tells us.

So Daddy and Augie are strolling out of the house toward the car in the final scene. Everything looks normal. But then the camera pulls back. It turns out Augie has shrunk himself to keep Daddy company until the formula wears off (“Dat’s my boy who did dat,” says Daddy, paraphrasing Durante). The house is actually a doll house and the car is a wind-up toy. Hanna-Barbera cartoon cars always had elements of new cars that were on the road when the cartoon was in production. One boxey model had a chequered grille like the one in this cartoon; I think it was a Pontiac.

I’ve already mentioned the music of Harry Bluestone and Emil Cadkin dominate the sound track. There’s one piece with strings I can’t identify; the arrangement and sound is much like one of the cues I have from the Sam Fox library. Interestingly, the few times it appears in cartoons, it seems to be used in flying scenes, like in ‘Skunk You Very Much’ and Snooper’s ‘Cloudy Rowdy.’


0:00 - Augie Doggie Main Title theme (Hanna-Barbera-Curtin).
0:25 - CB-89A ROMANTIC JAUNT (Bluestone-Cadkin) – Daddy in bathtub, Augie’s a failure, “Just a minute, son.”
1:48 - GR-65 BUSH BABY (Green) – “Maybe a more generous helpin’...” Daddy relaxes.
2:37 - L-1158 ANIMATION COMEDY (Moore) – Daddy shrinks, “What’s goin’ on?”
2:42 - CB-85A STEALTHY MOUSE (Bluestone-Cadkin) – Bubble sounds, Daddy swims, Augie lets water out, “I’ll save you.”
3:41 - THE HAPPY COBBLER (Krasnow) – Augie walks out of room, Daddy in drain.
4:00 - CB-83A MR TIPPY TOES (Bluestone-Cadkin) – Daddy at flower pot.
4:11 - light symphonic music (?) – Bird scene, Daddy slides down pole.
4:37 - CB-87A COME AND GET ME (Bluestone-Cadkin) – Daddy in grass, sees golf ball.
4:47 - GR-255 PUPPETRY COMEDY (Green) – Ground shakes, caterpillar, cat in garbage can, cat talks to Daddy.
5:50 - fast circus chase music (Shaindlin) – Daddy runs away, Swat the Dog, Swat the Cat.
6:17 - LFU-117-1 MAD RUSH No 1 (Shaindlin) – Augie peers in grate, rescues Daddy, cop scene.
6:48 - CB-90 HAPPY HOME (Bluestone-Cadkin) – Augie and Daddy get into two car.
7:04 - THE HAPPY COBBLER (Krasnow) – “But watch out for the cat.”
7:10 - Augie Doggie End Title theme (Curtin).

Yowp note: This blog has now reviewed all the first season Augie Doggie cartoons.

9 comments:

  1. "The Flintstones" and "The Jetsons" both used the shrinking character plot device("Itty Bitty Fred" and "The Little Man", respectively).

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  2. Popeye steam-shrank Bluto for part of 1943's "Too Weak to Work", but other than some Alice In Wonderland parody storylines, I can't think of any other theatricals before then that used shrinking as part of the plot.

    ...but H-B did use the surprised Irish cop in their final Tom & Jerry, "Tot Watchers", and Maltese had used the shocked-at-a-miniature-animal gags with Chuck Jones twice, with Gossamer for 1952's "Water Water Every-hare" and again a year later with "Punch Trunk". In the former case, Chuck and Mike really didn't do anything with the idea other than the call-back end gag and in the latter, the story's all about the reaction to the miniature elephant, not to the tiny elephant's problems with big things. So this one's a little different spin for Mike, but in both the WB cartoons and with Doggy Daddy here, Maltese seems kind of uninterested with the shrinking process itself and far more with the reaction gags he could dream up from the premise (which may be why the first half of this cartoon at times feels like we're in Charles Shows "stretch for time" territory).

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  3. Despite not seeing this particular short for a while, even I remember the "cater-ta-pillar" scene for the same reasons mentioned.

    Mind you, Mike reused the shrinking formula element for a later Augie short, "It's a Mice Day". That one I recall rewatching daily as a nipper on an ageing VHS.

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  4. Just tonight I watched the Flintstones' "Boss for a Day" where the Great Gazoo does a switcheroo between Fred and Mr. Slate. Then upper management shows up and Fred, embarrassed and humiliated, shrinks bit by bit in reaction. But of course it's exaggeration, as he's clearly back to normal in the next shot.

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  5. In the Flintstones, episode "The Drive Inn", at the end after Wilma and Betty publicly embarass Fred and Barney with a song reminding them of their goof-ups of the episode, Fred and Barney, metaphorecly to realisticly, "shrink" from embarassment.

    ''Pipsqueak Pop'' actually was the first HB cartoon, where a character was actually shrunk.

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  6. Yowp:

    Your comparison to “The Incredible Shrinking Man” is more accurate than one might realize, as its title character ALSO lived in a doll house and was menaced by a cat. Though, the cat didn’t have the benefit of Daws Butler’s vocals.

    The appeal of “shrinking characters” went well beyond H-B, into things like Irwin Allen’s LAND OF THE GIANTS, and Disney’s “Honey, I shrunk…” franchise, and too much more to mention. But, H-B sure did do it a lot, didn’t they?

    Joe T.

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  7. SOme others not mentioned (all embarrassment-related) are the final original Flinstones-also a Gazoo.."My Fair Freddy", (Fred being laughed at by his jackass Water Buffalo lodge friends for being in a ballerina costume as part of Gazoo's latest scheme)Huckleberry, "Red Riding Huck" (the wolfe when noting that the college kid's not Huck in his latest costume), "Who's Cookin' Who" (The wolf scaringWoody casuing him shrink), "Goofy Groceries" (the first appearance of SUperman being reduced to a crying baby by a Gorilla villian), and "Donald's Birthday" (Donald finding out just WHO the cigars that he made his nephews smoke WERE for!!!!!). AMong others. The "Wilma/Betty" song that 'The Drive Inn" showcases and that Anon. mentioned is the "Charlie/Irving" one sung by Nancy Wible and the just deceased Ginny Tyler (profiled last week here) with reritten lyhrics.

    Also the beleagured cops appeared in episodes of "The Flinstones", even a cop with no Irish accent but an Irish name O'Reilly (Herb Vigran in March 1962's "The Mailman COmeth" where he winds up on his kneews to John Stephenson's stock in trade sargeant/Chief. HB must have used this dumbfoduned cop thing better than anyone, in this early era...postmen had the same reaction.

    Finally the camera pulling back and showing the our eyes played tricks on us was used at least once in an earlier Maltese-penned WB Jones short, the Claude Cat solo, "Mouse-Warming", one of the "softer" Jones shorts.'

    "Back to Augie, he was alsways shrinking himself, or making up oidd forumals. The one mentioned by Chris Sig, "It's a Mice Day", is also one of several with Philibert (sic), Augie's invalid mouse friend (not to be confused with the later Bigelow).

    Steve

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  8. Ask Mark Evanier for confirmation, but most likely Doggie Daddy was born Douglas H. Young on December 21, 1919 in Baltimore, Maryland, not February 10, 1931.

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  9. Hi, Anon. I've got Doug's birth year on the blog somewhere. Doug's in his 90s and served in WW2 so 1931, as reported by make-it-up web sites, is incorrect.

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