Saturday, 23 November 2013

Huckleberry Hound — Lawman Huck

Produced and Directed by Joe Barbera and Bill Hanna.
Credits: Animation – Bob Carr; Layout – Tony Rivera; Backgrounds – Bob Gentle; Written By – Warren Foster; Story Director – Alex Lovy; Titles – Art Goble; Production Supervision – Howard Hanson.
Voice Cast: Huckleberry Hound, Dinky Dalton - Daws Butler; Narrator, Sheriff – Don Messick.
Music: Bill Loose-John Seely, Spencer Moore, Geordie Hormel, Phil Green.
Production: Huckleberry Hound Show No. K-049.
Fired Aired: week of January 30, 1961.
Plot: Huck must guard Dinky Dalton as he’s being transported to Kansas City.

Huck was placed in the Old West in three cartoons in his third season (the other two were “Huck Hound’s Tale” and “Fast Gun Huck”). This one brings back Dinky Dalton, who had appeared in “Sheriff Huckleberry” in the show’s first season. Dinky had the honour of being part of several Hanna-Barbera efforts a couple of decades later when the studio was past its best-before date. But let’s not get into that.

As usual, Huck’s observations to the audience and his dialogue are the best part of the cartoon. Warren Foster plants something at the outset that he brings back at the end. And Huck comes out a winner, despite being a little dense.

It seems the studio worked background artist Dick Thomas like the proverbial rented pony, as he painted the backgrounds in an awful lot of the 1960-61 cartoons. He wasn’t responsible for this one, though. Long-time MGM veteran Bob Gentle got the assignment and here’s a reconstruction of his western village that is panned at the start of the cartoon.

In this cartoon, Huck’s a “devoted deputy” who does whatever the sheriff tells him to do. “I make his coffee for him. Sheriffs drink lots of coffee, you know.” As he enumerates his responsibilities he suddenly realises the sheriff does nothing and he does everything.

One of the duties is feeding the prisoner, who happens to be Dinky Dalton. Dinky’s using a file on the bars of his cell. “Stay away from me, ya lily-livered varmint. Can’t you see I’m busy?” Huck writes off the comment (and subsequent punch in the snout) as moodiness. “They sometimes say things they don’t mean after being cooped up for a long time. And Dinky’s been with us for nigh on six, no, it’s closer to seven minutes.” But the Dalton Brothers are on their way to spring their kin. Neither Dinky or Huck can remember all their names. “The Daltons are sure a close-knit family,” observes Huck. “Yeah, they close-knitted ten banks last year,” adds the sheriff. They’re so close-knit, they’re bunched together as one character, with only their legs and an arm or two moving. The sheriff reacts by grabbing his bags and running away, telling Huck to take Dinky to Kansas City for trial.

The scene switches to the back of a train. The Dalton gang is following behind on the tracks. Both Huck and Dinky wave goodbye to them, with Huck being held over the back of the train by Dinky’s handcuff. And the Dalton Brothers leave the cartoon for good.

Inside the rail car, as Huck guards Dinky, the best routine is Huck’s fake death scene. Dinky’s bullet punctures a canister of water, which sprays all over Huck. He lays down on the floor.

Huck: Hold your fire, Dinky. You got me. I’m headin’ for the last roundup.
Dinky: Garsh. I’m sorry deputy.
Huck: Don’t be. I couldn’t have lasted long anyways. See? My veins is full of water.
(The scene turn black)
Huck: It’s gettin’ dark in here, Dinky. Does that mean …. I’m a goin’?
Dinky: It means the train is goin’ through a tunnel.

Dinky escapes to the roof of the rail car, but won’t fall for Huck’s suggestion to duck so he won’t get clobbered by the tunnel ahead. Too bad, because there was a tunnel. Dinky bashes against it and falls to the tracks as the train carries on. Huck: “Our tickets didn’t allow for any stop overs.” So the cartoon winds up with Huck and Dinky on a hand-cart. Huck has appointed Dinky his deputy “so he’s got to do everything I tell him to do.” Huck enjoys a cup of coffee and sings “Clementine” as the cartoon fades out.

Daws gives Dinky his Jackie Gleason voice, though the inflections aren’t quite the same.

The sound cutter puts the clatter of a train on the tracks behind much of the cartoon, even the final scene when Huck and Dinky are on the handcar. The sound effects would drown out any music so there are parts of the cartoon where there’s no music in the background.

0:00 - Huckleberry Hound Sub Main Title Theme (Curtin).
0:12 - ZR-39A WESTERN SONG (Hormel) – Opening narration, Huck talks to audience.
0:35 - no music – sheriff sleeps, “He saves himself….”
0:56 - C-19 LIGHT ACTIVITY (Loose) – “Um, hmmm.” Huck takes lunch to Dinky, Huck punched, Dalton in cell, gunshots, Sheriff runs off camera.
2:43 - L-80 COMEDY UNDERSCORE (Moore) – Sheriff with bags, “Don’t worry none.”
3:12 - no music – Huck and Dalton on back step of caboose.
3:37 - TC-437 SHOPPING DAY (Loose-Seely) – Chained to seat, Huck with glass of water.
4:00 - no music – seat gone, Huck has one gun.
4:17 - no music – Huck and Dinky fire guns at each other.
4:48 - L-75 COMEDY UNDERSCORE (Moore) – Water pours, Huck death scene.
5:50 - no music – top of rail car scene, Dinky crashes to ground.
6:14 - TC-303 ZANY COMEDY (Loose-Seely) – Huck and Dinky on tracks, handcar.
6:39 - no music – “Faster, Deputy Dink…”
6:45 - Clementine (Trad.) – Huck sings “Clementine.”
6:55 - GR-79 CUSTARD PIE CAPERS BRIDGE No 2 (Green) - cartoon fades out.
6:57 - Huckleberry Hound Sub End Title theme (Curtin)


  1. ....ANd this is the last Huck with thelibrary stock music (I presume) and also this is the final one of the three with Huck going after a WIld West bad guy type rather than Crazy Coyote (who'd already made his farewell appearance in the original series..)Steve

  2. Huck's deputy routine at the outset is a play on the situation between Dennis Weaver and James Arness in "Gunsmoke", where deputy Chester got to do all the dirty jobs, including the coffee-making part, for Marshal Dillon.

  3. Leaked water gag recalls "Hare Trigger" which more logically used red ink. Couldn't Foster have had Dinky pierce a bottle of ketchup on a shelf?

    1. That was ketchup used in that cartoon, and I believe it was the next of two [both which, though not by name, I refer to in my post below], in "Bugs Bunny Rides Again". Oh, and another similarity, the final gag of one's head bumping on a tunnel roof while on a train can be found in the 1956 short which also had Daws Butler playing Jackie Gleason (and Art Cartney, in the first Honeymooners like cartoon done at least at WB), "Half-Fare Hare",starring you know who, and both times at the climax of the cartoons, too.SC

    2. Ketchup might have been more of the traditional cartoon choice, but the line: “I couldn’t have lasted long anyways. See? My veins is full of water.”, made the gag much funnier – AND original!

  4. I'm seeing echoes of BOTH the train-Bugs-Sam shorts that kickstarted Yosemite Sam's filmography AND "The Defiant Ones", the extended handcuffed characters-setup, with characters handcuffed [though sheriff-crook relationship, not two crooks handcuffed, but still two opposites] yet having conversations, in turn redone at Warners for a definitely darker Sylveser-(unnamed)bulldog short, in 1961. "D'Fightin' Ones.".SC

  5. Nope, its ink, Steve. I just re-watched it.

    Yeah, Joe, its a funny line, but ketchup or a similar red liquid would have been the more logical choice. Earlier, Huck was perceptive enough to see that the sheriff is taking advantage of him, but now believes he has water in place of plasma in his body?

    Unlike Yowp, I don't mind the mega-moron version of Huck-I just ask that his cranial capacity be kept consistent within the same cartoon.

  6. What ever happened to another MGM veteran animator Ed Barge, did he ever work at Hanna-Barbera.

  7. Barge left MGM before it closed and went to work for Animation, Inc., Earl Klein's company.
    He arrived at HB a number of years after it opened. I know he worked on "Wacky Races," and I suspect he worked on the original version of "Scooby" as well.

    TCJ, I'm going with Joe on this one though, to be honest, I think a better gag would have involved ink.