Saturday, December 14, 2013

Augie Doggie — Playmate Pup

Produced and Directed by Bill Hanna and Joe Barbera.
Credits: Animation – Dick Lundy; Layout – Paul Sommer; Backgrounds – Art Lozzi; Written by Mike Maltese; Story Direction – Alex Lovy; Titles – Art Goble; Production Supervision – Howard Hanson.
Voice Cast: Augie Doggie, Radio Announcer, Irish Cop, Guy in Window – Daws Butler; Doggie Daddy – Doug Young.
Music: Jack Shaindlin, Phil Green, Harry Bluestone/Emil Cadkin.
Episode: Quick Draw McGraw Show M-039, Production J-111.
First Aired: week of March 27, 1961.
Plot: Augie invents an invisible playmate whom Doggie Daddy keeps offending.

The best pun in “Playmate Pup” is completely unintentional. Doggie Daddy climbs up the side of a building next to a window. The guy inside it says “What’d you lose, Mac—a parakeet?” The thing is, for two frames, the guy has lost something. His head. The cel with the head on it is missing for two frames. A mouth is in mid-air.



I don’t know if the cartoon would have been any funnier by having a character without a head for no particular reason. It would have fit, though. The cartoon is based on an invisible friend of Augie’s. The whole cartoon is a set-up to one joke at the end. Doggie Daddy has read in a “child sick-ol-lo-logical book” (almost halfway into the cartoon) that kids make up imaginary friends but it turns out Lonesome Leonard isn’t imaginary. He’s just invisible.

Mike Maltese’s story contains elements we’re all too familiar with in the Augie Doggie series:

● Augie imitating Sylvester, Jr. with an “Oh, the shame of it” line. In this one, it’s “Oh, the shame of it. My father would rather patch up his neglected and seedy-looking home-sweet-home than play ball with his only devoted son.” The home-sweet-home line is a verbatim repeat of what dear old dad has just said, another example of Maltese’s echoing dialogue.
● Daddy goes along with Augie’s whim because that’s what a good dad does.
● Daddy gets bashed around for his trouble.
● A disbelieving Irish cop comes to a sudden realisation, decides he’s sick and makes a crack to the camera.
● The “after all, how many” tag-line at the end of the cartoon. In this one, it’s “After all, how many boys have pals who don’t eat?”

Add to that Maltese’s (mis)use of the word “avuncular”. In this cartoon, it’s “Come to think of it, Augie, we don’t have an old oak tree. Will an old avuncular bush do?”

And Maltese dredges up the old cartoon routine of the radio that talks back to the characters. I’ve always liked it. The radio in this cartoon sounds like Fibber Fox. Here’s the dialogue, as Daddy is about ready to play baseball with Augie:


Radio: Friends, this is Repair Your Home Week. Does your house need painting?
Daddy: It does.
Radio:: Is your garage a mess?
Daddy: It is.
Radio: Is your front yard the scandal of the neighbourhood?
Daddy: Well, people are beginning to talk. Heh heh heh heh.
Radio: Are your children ashamed to bring their little friends home because you let it get rundown and seedy?
Daddy: I never tought about dat.
Radio: Well, think about it.
Daddy: I’m thinkin’.
Radio: Are you through thinking?
Daddy: I think so.
Radio: Well, take off that silly-looking baseball outfit and do something about it.

So here’s the story. Daddy’s set to play baseball with his son but he’s convinced by the radio to fix up their home because it’s suggesting Augie isn’t bringing friends over because of it. Daddy thinks disappointed Augie has reacted by inventing a friend. The friend is a jerk but Daddy puts up with it because a book tells him to do it. The friend, Lonesome Leonard, doesn’t put up a ladder to stop Daddy from falling, then demands a “thank-you.” Then he wants to lie down under the shade of an oak tree after Daddy sits on him (because Daddy can’t see him). Only an oak tree will do. Daddy and Augie carry him all over the place for an hour to find an oak tree. They find the sceptical cop instead. The cop’s reaction? He takes off his cop hat, puts on a fireman’s helmet and says “It’s the fireman’s life for me.”

No sooner do they get to the tree that Lonesome decides “to leave forever.” Daddy chases after him up a phone pole, across a phone wire and then up a building which ends with dear old dad chatting with the missing-head guy before yelling for help. The wind up of the cartoon has invisible Lonesome forgiving Dad then sucking up spaghetti from a plate, proving he exists after all. “How about dat? A fig-a-ment of dee imagination. With an appetite.”

Dick Lundy is the animator. Here are some poses. Daddy gives us a blank stare in one.



Art Lozzi’s backgrounds aren’t as interesting as some of the things he did on Yogi Bear or even Loopy De Loop cartoons. Daddy likes pictures in his home. In fact, he has the same couch and large picture in two spots in his home. Well, he walks past it twice in the cartoon.



And here’s a bit of a cityscape. Sorry for the lousy screen grabs. See the house with the door in the middle of the second storey? Daddy runs past it four times to catch Leonard after he and Augie carry him past it three times. I like how he changes the grey tone of the pavement, much like he and other H-B artists (Bob Gentle, particularly), had more than one colour on a wall to break up the monotony (you can’t tell too well but when Daddy walks by the couch above, the wall has a loop of a different shade in the upper-left-hand corner). By my count, Lozzi drew 18 backgrounds for this cartoon.

You’ll know doubt recognise the music in this cartoon. It’s pretty standard Augie Doggie fare.


0:00 - Augie Doggie Main Title theme (Hanna-Barbera-Curtin).
0:25 - CB-90 HAPPY HOME (Cadkin-Bluestone) – Augie wants to play baseball, radio talks to Daddy, Daddy starts walking.
1:11 - CB-83A MR TIPPY TOES (Cadkin-Bluestone) – “No boy of mine…”, Daddy hit by baseball, Daddy holds onto gutter, “Gettin’ awfully tired.”
2:30 - PG-160G LIGHT MOVEMENT (Green) – “Tanks, Lonesome,” Daddy drops, Augie turns head.
2:46 - GR-155 PARKS AND GARDENS (Green) – “What’s that, Lonesome?,” Daddy reads book, sits on Leonard, “I didn’t see him.”
4:18 - CB-89A ROMANTIC JAUNT (Cadkin-Bluestone) – “And dat’s da trut,” Augie and Daddy carry Leonard, Irish cop scene.
5:27 - GR-334 BUSTLING BRIDGE (Green) – Scene fades, Dad and Augie at tree.
5:33 - GR-253 TOYLAND PARADE (Green) – “Look, dad,” Augie points.
6:04 - Medium circus march (Shaindlin) – Daddy runs, climbs pole, climbs building.
6:19 - GR-348 EARLY MORNING (Green) – Guy in window scene.
6:41 - GR-65 BUSH BABY (Green) – Augie and Daddy have dinner, spaghetti disappears.
7:01 - GR-77 CUSTARD PIE CAPERS (Green) – “How about dat?” iris out.
7:10 - Augie Doggie End Title theme (Curtin).

3 comments:

  1. And the Maltese name invention machine strikes again:
    George Gobel=LONESOME George
    Of Mice and Men characters=GEORGE and LENNY, or formally, LEONARD
    James Stewart's invisible bunny friend: HARVEY
    Therefore this is kind of like a juvenile version of Harvey only with his identity [is he a bird? a human? animal? vegetable? mineral? martian? other] undisclosed and name changed. Not to nitpick, Yowp, but you seem to forget the name., using Clarence as the name and didn't even mention the final scene until the music breakdown.[CORRECTION: I noticed that you mentioned the ending gag way above in the review.] Other than that, I've always looked forward to this review as much as the others as I've always liked this one, and the usual cop-reaction ["The Flintstones" would make more use of that cop-mental breakdown gag as well.]. Just the very idea of an imaginary friend coming to life makes this all the more surreal and, well, cartoonlike.:)SC

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  2. I saw this on Boomerang for a special for Thanksgiving 2012, but it did not have the issue of the invisible "apartment-man" head. I still have the recording, and never noticed it. Where did you get the source from?

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  3. I have two different versions, one in English and one in Portuguese. Both are missing the head for two frames.

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