Shake-takes fell out of favour at Hanna-Barbera fairly quickly, and I don’t know why. You find them sprinkled throughout the first season of The Huckleberry Hound Show and only rarely after that. Maybe it had to do with the arrival of Mike Maltese, Warren Foster and Alex Lovy at the studio; stories got an awful lot more talky after that. Or maybe the takes were deemed too old-fashioned or clichéd.
Carlo Vinci and Mike Lah were masters of these kinds of takes. Carlo wasn’t far removed from a 20-year career at Terrytoons and sometimes his artwork looks like it would fit in a Mighty Mouse cartoon with its thick ink-lines and unusual proportions. But he came up with some fun drawings.
Here’s a Carlo take from “Cock-a-Doodle Huck.” A fox reaches into a chicken coop to grab a chicken. Instead, farmer Huck bashes his hand (paw?) with a hammer. The fox reacts in pain.
Here are the anticipation drawings.
Then, the fox stretches in pain. Carlo re-uses some of the drawings, but they’re not in a cycle. They’re exposed on twos.
And then the take ends.
Within a couple of years, a take in a Hanna-Barbera cartoon consisted of barely stretching the eyes into a large oval and opening the mouth. It’s like the cartoons regressed back to the mid-‘30s. Imagine how much funnier the later H-B cartoons would have been if animal characters had similar types of takes as the one above.
Here’s a look at Carlo’s animation slowed down (though not all that well). Unfortunately, you have to put up with the jerky sound; I couldn’t mute it when making this clip.