Saturday, June 1, 2013

Pixie and Dixie — Mouse For Rent

Produced and Directed by Bill Hanna and Joe Barbera.
Credits: Animation – Bob Carr; Layout – Tony Rivera; Backgrounds – Dick Thomas; Written by Warren Foster; Story Direction – Alex Lovy; Titles – Lawrence Goble; Production Supervision – Howard Hanson.
Voice Cast: Jinks, Dixie, Tabby O’Flaherty, Alfred – Daws Butler; Pixie, Charlie, Cicero – Don Messick.
Music: Jack Shaindlin, Bill Loose-John Seely, Geordie Hormel, Spencer Moore.
First Aired: 1961.
Episode: Huckleberry Hound Show K-52.
Plot: Jinks rents Pixie and Dixie to neighbourhood cats.

This cartoon is little more than a re-working of the concept of “Lend Lease Meece.” That’s where Jinks loans Pixie and Dixie to the growly-voice brown cat next door, who isn’t really serious about chasing them but does it for recreation. In this cartoon, Jinks gets the idea of renting the meece to other cats in the neighbourhood.

The gag is the cats are pretending to catch the meece so their owners will think they’re useful and necessary around the house, and their shouts at Pixie and Dixie are really intended for the owners to overhear. We get the same gag three times. Unfortunately, writer Warren Foster doesn’t build on it each time, other than the third cat throws stuff. The best gag is unintentional, the sole result of Hanna-Barbera’s penuriousness. Even casual cartoon viewers know that Jinks chases the meece past the same furniture over and over and over. This time, all three cats do the same thing. And each of them has the same furniture in their homes!



That’s right. The biggest gag in the cartoon is Bill Hanna saving money because Dick Thomas didn’t have to draw as many backgrounds (there are something like six in the whole seven minutes). And you’ll notice animator Bob Carr pretty much gave the same run cycle to all three cats. Check the position of their feet.

Carr’s animation is so sloppy at one point, that drops of water from Jinks’ broom stay in position for eight frames, looking like they’re hanging in mid-air.

Jinks and the meeces are friends in this one and he’s chasing them merely for show at the start of the cartoon. He tells them to take five while he chats with Charlie, the growly-voiced brown cat with the Yogi Bear collar. They talk about how a cat’s “economic-cac-cle status is in jeopardy” if there isn’t a mouse in the house to guarantee him a good home. “It sounds like we mice are very important to you cats,” says Pixie. If this were a Warner’s cartoon, the meeces would blackmail Jinks into giving them stuff and humiliating himself so they won’t leave. But it’s not. Instead, Jinks comes up with a meece rental service for cats to make sure they won’t lose their home. Jinks cons Pixie and Dixie into going along with the idea with this bit of convoluted logic: “When cats lose their home, they start wandering the streets. The more cats that stay home, the safer you guys are.” The profits are split three ways—50% for Jinks, 10% for the meeces, and 40% for Jinks.

The first customer is Tabby O’Flaherty, with one of Daws Butler’s Irish voices. “My set up at home is getting shaky. I’m even afraid to sharpen me claws on the furniture any more.” Tabby asks if the meece are lively and they respond by doing a dance to a banging of drums and cymbals. So Tabby pays $2 for an hour’s rental. Now, you may be wondering if Tabby has an owner, why he would need money to buy anything. Wouldn’t the owner take care of it? And who would pay a cat cash? The answer is simple. This is a cartoon.



The second customer is Cicero, who looks more like Fibber Fox than a cat. Jinks is ecstatic. He’s a “business typhoon.” Cicero has a bit of a snooty voice. The third customer is Alfred, with one of Daws’ New York voices he used on Fractured Fairy Tales. An annoyed Jinks investigates when Alfred doesn’t return the meece on time. Alfred said they left an hour earlier. Jinks becomes worried that the meece are missing but not through any friendship. He’s worried he could lose his home. There could have been a nice bit of hammy acting by Jinks but the scene lasts a mere nine seconds which leaves time for nothing. There’s a cut and Pixie and Dixie are standing there greeting Jinks. The cat rushes toward them (almost flying at them) but skids to a stop. Foster’s pulled a switcheroo. The meeces have decided to cut out the middle man, er, cat, and rent themselves out to cats—at $5 an hour. Jinks needs the meeces, so he forks out the cash. The cartoon ends with Jinks chasing them with a wet broom as we hear a Bilko-like military shout and “At least for an hour, I can hate you meeces to pieces!”



All your old Pixie and Dixie musical favourites are on the soundtrack, including Jack Shaindin’s meece-chasing “Toboggan Run” (my favourite) and “On the Run” (the favourite of the late Earl Kress). There’s also an appearance by a part of Shaindlin’s odd cue with a flute and a muted trumpet that sounds like it’s quacking.


0:00 - Pixie and Dixie Main Title theme (Hanna-Barbera-Curtin-Shows).
0:13 - LFU-118-5 TOBOGGAN RUN (Shaindlin) – Jinks chases meeces, skid to stop.
0:28 - zig-zag strings and bassoon (Shaindlin) – Jinks tells meece to take 5, talks to Charlie, talks to meeces, shakes head.
1:24 - LAF-7-12 FUN ON ICE (Shaindlin) – Jinks decides to rent meece, works out deal.
2:22 - ZR-52 LIGHT QUIET (Hormel) – Jinks hawks meeces, “…a couple of meeces, Bud?”
2:32 - TC-303 ZANY COMEDY (Loose-Seely) – O’Flaherty and Jinks talk about renting.
2:58 - drum kit effect – Meeces dance, “They’re lively alright.”
3:01 - TC-300 ECCENTRIC COMEDY (Loose-Seely) - O’Flaherty agrees to rent meeces, Jinks says he’ll be affluent.
3:37 - comedy flute and quack cue (Shaindlin) – O’Flaherty talks to meeces.
3:51 - ZR-47 LIGHT MOVEMENT (Hormel) – Meece start running, chase.
4:09 - TC-201 PIXIE COMEDY (Loose-Seely) – Jinks-Cicero scene.
4:41 - LFU-118-5 TOBOGGAN RUN (Shaindlin) – Cicero chases mice.
4:49 - TC-202 ECCENTRIC COMEDY (Loose-Seely) – Cicero talks to Jinks, customer waiting.
5:07 - LAF-2-12 ON THE RUN (Shaindlin) – Alfred chases meece.
5:22 - L-78 COMEDY UNDERSCORE (Moore) – Jinks annoyed with Alfred, Pixie and Dixie waiting for Jinks.
5:57 - ZR-48 FAST MOVEMENT (Hormel) – Jinks runs toward meeces, stops.
6:05 - LAF-25-3 zig-zag strings and bassoon (Shaindlin) – U-Chase Mouse Rental booth, Jinks wets broom, meeces run off camera.
6:40 - LAF-72-2 RODEO DAY (Shaindlin) – Jinks chases meece with broom.
6:58 - Pixie and Dixie End Title theme (Curtin).

2 comments:

  1. Last season's cartoon meets Bill and Joe's "Mouse for Sale" and the Jones-Maltese effort "Chow Hound". But we're not going anywhere near the dark ending of the latter cartoon (which would have cost Bill Hanna too much money anyway to have a horribly bloated Jinx character design drawn up. Plus the animation of the gravy.)

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  2. Listen to Charlie's conversation with Jinks and you can hear Charlie mention the little homeless "meece" that appeared in the last scene in "Lend Lease Meece", the mouse that Charlie adopts and takes home. Too bad that we don't see a return appearance of that little white mouse. SC

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