Saturday, May 10, 2014
Huckleberry Hound — Caveman Huck
Credits: Animation – George Goepper, Layout – Tony Rivera, Backgrounds – Dick Thomas, Written by Warren Foster, Story Director – Paul Sommer, Titles – Art Goble, Production Supervision – Howard Hanson.
Voice Cast: Huckleberry Hound – Daws Butler; Narrator, Neighbour, Dog, Eel, Swallow – Don Messick.
Music: Hoyt Curtin.
First Aired: 1961-62 season.
Plot: Prehistoric Huck tries to capture a dinosaur.
“The Flintstones” was about life in the Stone Age, but within the context of mid-20th Century suburbia. This Hanna-Barbera cartoon doesn’t transpose modern existence (1961-style) onto cave-dwelling times so the humour is a bit different. So, no, you won’t see wooden cars with granite rollers for wheels or a mastodon’s snout spraying dishes in the kitchen sink. That’s even though the title card features a silhouette of a dinosaur that looks like Dino (little feet, three hairs on head, bent end of tail).
The cartoon really has two halves, the first with random gags built around the period and the last involving Huck’s hunt for a dinosaur. As usual, Huck makes wisecracks during the whole of the proceedings. His running commentary, combined with occasional sight gags, is what makes the cartoon amusing.
After a pan over a Dick Thomas background with dino-characters moving in the foreground, Huck opens the cartoon with a chorus of “Clementine,” with the word “brontosaurus” tossed in the lyrics. He has a nice little chat with the narrator at the outset, who describes primitive life and how only someone “strong,” “fearless,” “cunning” and “rugged”—like Huck—could survive. Huck explains how he can survive in this wild, untamed world. “Why, shuckins, Narrator, there’s nothin’ to it, I mean, if you’ve got the know-how. Well, uh, when threatened by some fearless beast, you just got to know how to run like mad.”
Cut to Huck’s dog (with sabre-teeth) burying a bone. Cut to a wide shot showing it’s a huge bone. Well, there are big dinosaurs out there, you know.
The next routine involves the daily visit from Huck’s neighbour. Huck isn’t bothered by the fact the Cro-Magnon only comes over to club him. Foster gives him a great little speech as he dodges the growling oaf’s club.
It’s a great little scene because you know Huck is going to get clobbered. You just don’t know when. And Foster and George Goepper have animation of the caveman bringing down his club like a hammer with appropriate wooden sound effects. But it’s not Huck being bashed. The camera cuts back to Huck fending off the savage’s club with his own.
Huck’s sabre-tooth dog is hungry and bites Huck in the you-know-where. Huck pops him on the head. Another nice design by Tony Rivera. The dog responds by grabbing Huck’s club by the end and bashing Huck, head first, against the ground. Huck doesn’t let go of the club. “Since the dog is caveman’s best friend, you can imagine the trouble we have with the unfriendly animals around here,” he tells us.
So Huck chats away to us as he hunts for a dinosaur. Along the way, he comes into contact with a huge eel. Look at the detail of Goepper’s drawing in close-up.
Huck cracks the eel on the skull and it sinks gurgling into the water. The hunt is interrupted by a “swallow” which carries Huck away and drops him to the ground far below. Finally, he invents the first lasso, ropes the dinosaur, and is dragged by him along the ground as the beast runs away. Huck figures the creature will get tired and stop—in a few days. Then there’s a really abrupt sound edit job and Huck sings “Clementine,” er, “Dinosaur” as the Narrator ends the cartoon.
Goepper has a bunch of funny, goofy expressions in this cartoon. George Washington Goepper was born in Santa Ana, California on February 22, 1909 to Julius A. and Harriet L. (Chapman) Goepper. His father had been a cigar maker. He was supporting his widowed mother when he started at Disney on June 1, 1933 as an in-betweener. Goepper became Norm Ferguson’s assistant and later animated for Jack Hannah. He worked on the Dance of the Hours segment in “Fantasia.” In World War Two, he served in the Photographic Science Lab, Art & Animation Div., USMAS. Anacostia. He left Disney and worked at Bob Clampett’s Snowball Productions (according to the late Fred Kopietz) before going to Hanna-Barbera. After retiring in 1970, he eventually taught animation at Orange Coast College. Goepper died on January 11, 1993. You can read a bit more about George HERE and HERE.