Saturday, July 13, 2013

Pixie and Dixie — A Wise Quack

Produced and Directed by Bill Hanna and Joe Barbera.
Credits: Animation – Bob Carr; Layout – Paul Sommer; Background – Vera Hanson; Story – Warren Foster; Story Direction – Alex Lovy; Titles – Art Goble; Production Supervision – Howard Hanson.
Voice Cast: Dixie, Jinks – Daws Butler; Pixie – Don Messick; Duck – Red Coffey.
Music: Bill Loose/John Seely, Jack Shaindlin, Geordie Hormel, Spencer Moore, Phil Green.
Production: Huckleberry Hound Show K-46.
First Aired: week of January 9, 1961.
Plot: Pixie and Dixie unsuccessfully hide a duck from Mr. Jinks.

There’s exactly one gag in this cartoon. At the very end. And even in the final scene it takes forever to get there because Mr. Jinks and the meeces talk about it first.

This cartoon kind of sums up what went wrong at Hanna-Barbera. It’s virtually all dialogue and almost none of it is all that amusing. Of course, the proceedings aren’t helped by the whining, crying, self-pitying duck that drives the plot who, as we all know, got his own series of cartoons after a bit of a reworking the following season. I don’t know what Bill and Joe saw in him. Surely they couldn’t think all that “poor little me” wailing was funny. Or maybe they thought the audience was supposed to feel sorry for him, instead of getting fed up with all that bawling about himself, the reaction anyone would have in real life with someone like that.

Warren Foster was capable of writing funny dialogue, as any Warner Bros. cartoon fan knows, but either the character or the workload (70-plus cartoons in one season) wore him down. The most amusing thing the Yakky-Doodle-to-be says, after bursting into tears (well, there would have been tears if the budget allowed for drawing them), is after Dixie tells him he’ll grow up to be a beautiful swan. “I don’t want to be a swan,” he howls. “I don’t even know what a swan is.” But Pixie and Dixie don’t top it with a reaction that would make it funny. Story director Alex Lovy simply cuts to a three-character shot and Dixie rolls on with the next line of dialogue while the innocuous music fades in the background.

The best line, predictably, comes from Mr. Jinks. “Let ‘em cry me a river,” he says to the duck, “and swim downstream on it.” Jinks is evidently in a song-title quoting mood as he puts his arm to his head and sarcastically exclaims “I’m all shook up.” Daws Butler tries to help the cartoon a little more with one of his typical Jinks word-mangles: “I’m despicable-buh-bob-bob-buh-ble-like.”



The story goes like this: the duck is swimming in Jinks’ water dish for some reason. The duck boo-hoos to Pixie and Dixie that everyone makes fun of him. Pixie and Dixie hide the duck in their hole from Jinks. The duck doesn’t help by constantly making noise. Pixie and Dixie pretend they’re quacking and playing “Duck.” Jinks tells them to duck from his broom. The duck comes out of the hole to demand Jinks stop. Jinks makes fun of the duck, who drags himself out of the house wallowing in self-pity. Gunfire is heard. It’s rabbit season duck season. Jinks feels no guilt about evicting the duck because he has no conscience. So Dixie pretends to be Jinks’ conscience by talking to him through a garden hose. Jinks falls for it. Cut to a marsh where Jinks calls for the duck by going “quack quack.” You can guess what happens next. Unseen stupid hunters mistake a cat for a duck. Blam!



The final scene has more yap-yap-yap between the meeces and the duck. Jinks orders the duck from his water dish. Jinks needs it. He sticks his shot-up butt in the dish to cool it off. But Jinks can’t have been in pain because he manages to carry on as normal though all that yapping in the final scene. Jinks’ final line: “Conscience-like. Who needs it?” Yeah, it’s the best Foster could come up with.

The Hanna-Barbera ‘B’ team worked on this. Bob Carr’s animation is basic with characters mainly standing and talking, Paul Sommer’s layouts are like looking straight ahead at a stage and Vera Ohman Hanson had only seven backgrounds to draw as most of the action takes place against a living room baseboard. Jinks looks like he has some kind of curved spine disease the way Carr draws him in the cartoon’s only chase sequence.



There’s unintentional irony on the soundtrack. When the duck is mournfully elaborating how his mama and daddy and the pussycat don’t like him, the tune in the background is Phil Green’s “And They All Lived Happily Ever After.” The thing is, that’s the cue’s name in the EMI Photoplay series. The sound-cutter at Hanna-Barbera used the Capitol Hi-Q library, where it was given the name “Lullaby.” The first cue was also used to open the Pixie and Dixie cartoon “Light Headed Cat,” which has a number of pieces of music I can’t identify. The other cues should be pretty familiar.


0:00 - Pixie and Dixie Main Title theme (Hanna-Barbera-Curtin-Shows).
0:11 - quizzical flute cue (Shaindlin) – Pixie and Dixie talk, Jinks in a mean mood.
1:52 - COMEDY UNDERSCORE (Moore) – Meeces in hole with duck, Jinks with feather, “Duck” game, broom comes down.
2:58 - ZR-47 LIGHT MOVEMENT (Hormel) – Jinks runs with broom, skids to stop, “Well…”
3:13 - TC-201 PIXIE COMEDY (Loose-Seely) “That explanations…,” Jinks kicks duck out.
4:09 - GR-259 AND THEY ALL LIVED HAPPILY EVER AFTER (Green) – Duck at door, gunshots, meeces decide to create conscience.
4:57 - TC-204A WISTFUL COMEDY (Loose-Seely) – Jinks sleeping, meeces chat.
5:11 - TC-300 ECCENTRIC COMEDY (Loose-Seely) – Dixie as conscience.
5:57 - TC-202 ECCENTRIC COMEDY (Loose-Seely) – Jinks in bullrushes, explosion.
6:11 - LICKETY SPLIT (Shaindlin) – Jinks runs.
6:17 - LAF-10-7 GROTESQUE No 2 (Shaindlin) – Duck in dish, Jinks cools butt.
6:55 - Pixie and Dixie End Title theme (Curtin).

2 comments:

  1. And that oening cue was used on quite a number of other third season cartoons ("The Purple Pumpernickel" one, "Love-Bugged Bear",etc.) and also another Phil Green cue, "Overture", (the middle cue in the Augie track of Rhino's "Pic-a-Nic" basket CD) is heard when Jinx marches off with that broom.) "And they all lived", of course, was heard on Mr.Whiny Duckling's previous appearance, with Snooper & Blabber Mouse, "De-Duck-Tives". Next stop: his OWN segment.Steve C.

    ReplyDelete
  2. Pretty much the same duck appeared in at least one Tom & Jerry cartoon. I'd say they simply recycled his design and voice for this script. Later, when they needed a new series character, they brought him back again but leaned on the less whiny Tom & Jerry characterization.

    ReplyDelete