Saturday, 8 February 2014

Pixie and Dixie — Jinks’ Jinx

Produced and Directed by Bill Hanna and Joe Barbera.
Credits: Animation – Emil Carle; Layout – Jack Huber; Backgrounds – Art Lozzi; Written by Warren Foster; Story Direction – Paul Sommer; Titles – Lawrence Goble; Production Supervision – Howard Hanson.
Voice Cast: Pixie, Howard – Don Messick; Pixie, Mr Jinks – Daws Butler.
Music: Hoyt Curtin.
First Aired: 1961.
Plot: Pixie and Dixie try to convince Jinks his black-cat friend is bad luck.

Nine Pixie and Dixie cartoons were made for the 1961-62 season and this is one of them. Hanna-Barbera now had two prime time shows on the air and more in development (only The Jetsons would make it to air), so the expansion meant new artists had to be brought in.

Emil Carle has the animation credit on this cartoon. It would appear Emil was a paper boy for the Long Island Daily Press in 1934 (age 16 or so), then attended Brooklyn Technical High School and the Pratt Institute, where a number of people in the animation business received their schooling. The 1940 Census reveals (and there’s no doubt it’s the same Emil Carle) he was living in Woodhaven, N.Y. and was employed as an engineer in a machinist’s shop. In 1957, he was the associate producer for Charles Cahill and Associates, one of many industrial and commercial houses in Los Angeles. Broadcasting magazine once reported he had also worked for Son Ads but I wonder if that’s a typo for Song Ads, another mid-‘50s commercial studio. In late 1958, he was hired for TV Spots’ newly-formed commercial division (along with Norm Gottfredson, Cecil Beard and Fred Madison).

This cartoon, apparently, was his first work for Hanna-Barbera; there are places on the internet that go into his future work at the studio. If one wishes to accept the credits, it would appear Carle imitated Ken Muse, at least when it comes to tongue/mouth movements and the thin, partial row of upper teeth he gave characters in this short. Somewhere on the blog, there’s a mouth position diagram (of Huckleberry Hound) that was drawn by Muse; it could be that Carle used it.



Or it could be a case of more people worked on the cartoons than the credits suggest. Viewers are told Art Lozzi was responsible for the backgrounds. That could be, but there are lumps drawn on the carpet of the Jinks’ home and the grass outside that Dick Thomas put in his backgrounds. I don’t recall Lozzi doing it; and Lozzi once warned that the credits didn’t always accurately reflect who worked on cartoons.



Jack Huber is the credited layout artist. He was newly-arrived at the studio, having worked for Walt Disney since at least 1940 (including layout work on “Sleeping Beauty”). At H-B, he laid out “The Flintstones,” “Top Cat,” “The Jetsons” and some far lesser cartoons as time wore on. He was born in Illinois on May 6, 1914 and died in Costa Mesa, California on May 12, 1998 (unfortunately, his Guild obit is no longer on-line).

Warren Foster uses the first half of the story to set up the second half. Mr. Jinks is friends with Pixie and Dixie at the outset; the meeces have a daily habit of getting cheese from the fridge without the cat hassling them, let alone chasing them. He’s clearly annoyed, though, as he tells us “Shee. Those meeces are spoiled rotten. They have, like, uh, a distorted image of cat-mouse relationship.” That changes when Jinks’ old buddy Howard drops over and they reminisce about their alley-cat days as lightning-fast mouse catchers. Jinks decides he has to impress his friend that he hasn’t lost it. The meeces humour him (and run past the same light socket seven times) until they get fed up being tossed back and forth.

The cartoon’s now half over and nothing really funny has happened; even Jinks’ dialogue is kind of lame. Now Dixie gets an idea—if they make Jinks think black-cat Howard is bad luck (“He’s sure been bad luck for us,” Pixie observes), he’ll kick Howard out of the house and things will be back to normal. So Dixie pleads with “stupid-sticious” Jinks and plants the idea of bad luck, then he and Pixie hide and pull off some stunts:

● A vase falls on Jinks’ head (pushed by Dixie).
● Jinks steps on a rake.
● A potted plant drops on Jinks.
● A fold-up bed folds up on Jinks (after Dixie jumps on a switch).
● Jinks trips on a cane.




Howard goes zooming through the air out the front door. “Good riddance to bad luck.” Unfortunately, Dixie doesn’t realise it’s all over and pushes a china cabinet on Jinks. The cat clues in that the “miserable meeces” (he uses the term four times in the cartoon) are responsible for the “bad luck” and ends the cartoon by chasing them with a white broom, yelling “I hate you meeces to pieces!”



Since this is Pixie and Dixie’s final season, Hoyt Curtin’s cues have replaced the Capitol Hi-Q stock music. His version of “Man on the Flying Trapeze” is among them; you’ll recognise the music from “The Flintstones” and the syndicated shorts like Wally Gator produced during this period of the studio’s life.


2 comments:

  1. This must have been the first cartoon Hanna-Barbera did where their names appear in the title card of an episode. Their names appear in a yellow rectangle saying "A Hanna-Barbera" leaving out "cartoon." Later, their names appear in cursive in the title cards and lastly just as: "Hanna-Barbera" in the title cards of the last 1961 cartoons.

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  2. There's a brief blooper in this cartoon: In one scene when Jinks holds up Pixie and Dixie in his hand after catching them, their outfits switch colors. Pixie's tie is red instead of blue and Dixie's vest is blue instead of red. Odd, isn't it?

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