Saturday, April 12, 2014
Yogi Bear — Acrobatty Bear
Credits: Animation – Bob Bentley, Layout – Dan Noonan, Backgrounds – Dick Thomas, Written by Warren Foster, Story Director – Paul Sommer, Titles – Art Goble, Production Supervision – Howard Hanson.
Voice Cast: Yogi Bear, Colonel – Daws Butler; Boo Boo, Ringmaster – Don Messick; Cindy Bear – Julie Bennett.
Music: Hoyt Curtin.
First Aired: 1961-62 season.
Plot: Yogi joins the circus to be near Cindy Bear.
As a kid, I liked watching Yogi Bear outwit Ranger Smith. And I thought it was funny hearing him mispronounce “filet mignon”—even I knew it was wrong—then seeing him getting kicked out of France. And I laughed watching him getting chased around by a dog who would only say “Yowp.”
But a love story? What kid wants to see that? Especially in a cartoon. I sure didn’t.
Yet Hanna-Barbera thought I and millions of others did. The studio dug into this cartoon, lifted the ideas of a Yogi-Cindy relationship, the circus, and the evil ringmaster, added the snickering dog concept from the Huck cartoons, sprinkled in a few songs and mixed it all into a feature film.
Gak!! Let parents watch that tedious relationship stuff and on their own time. I want to see Yogi running over sleeping-bagged campers on a motor scooter.
And worse still, said me-as-a-kid, Cindy isn’t even interested in him in this cartoon. First, she liked his handstand. Now, she doesn’t. She walked away from him. Why is Yogi wasting his time with her? If someone doesn’t like you, don’t you ignore them and hang out with someone else?
Little did I know that not too many years later, I would see guys make complete asses out of themselves over uninterested or fickle women. Obviously, little boys are smarter than adults.
So it is with such childhood baggage that I look again at this cartoon some five decades later.
Actually, writer Warren Foster reused a couple of his early Yogi plots in this cartoon. In “Love Bugged Bear” the previous season, Yogi put up with physical abuse by a girl bear because he was love-struck and was rewarded by having her run off with another bear. And in “The Biggest Show-Off on Earth,” Yogi joins the circus thinking he’s a star, but gets mistreated during his act and finally decides to quit and go back to Jellystone Park.
Journeyman Bob Bentley animated this cartoon. Schlesinger, Fleischer, MGM, Lantz, UPA, he had worked at all those studios. I’m probably missing some (yes, I know, he worked elsewhere after Hanna-Barbera) . In this one, he emulates Mike Lah’s animation at H-B a few years earlier and has characters speaking without a jaw. Just a mouth moves. Here are some examples. Cindy has a black mouth line but only red lips animate and they don’t stay attached to the line all the time.
You’ll notice above that Boo Boo has a string around his bow tie and that Cindy’s fingers are crooked all over the place. Bentley has his characters in an advanced state of arthritis in various portions of the cartoon. The fingers don’t twiddle, like they would if Carlo Vinci were animating.
And another example of how animators didn’t work straight ahead. These are consecutive frames. Yogi isn’t even close to being in the same place, let alone position.
The cartoon opens with Yogi and Boo Boo watching a circus caravan with a truck that has a fender that keeps changing color.
Finally, the show goes on, but not before Yogi gives us an Ed Sullivan reference and refers to it as “The Shoe.” We get some Yogi rhymes: “That Cindy’s great on a roller skate” and “Don’t look so forlorn, a star is born.” Wait a minute. Yogi passes the ringmaster. But then the ringmaster’s at the door of the lion cage to let him in. How could that happen?
Cindy returns later in the season, including in another cartoon where she’s willing to give her momentary affections to whichever bear hands her the most material goods. Tell her to stick her shallowness and capriciousness, Yogi! Ah, but he won’t. We kids are smarter than the smarter-than-the-average bear, it would appear.