Sunday, July 20, 2014

Augie Doggie — Hand to Mouse

Produced and Directed by Joe Barbera and Bill Hanna.
Credits: Animation – Ed Parks, Layout – Tony Rivera, Backgrounds – Art Lozzi, Written by Mike Maltese, Story Director – Paul Sommer, Titles – Art Goble, Production Supervision – Howard Hanson.
Voice Cast: Augie Doggie, Bigelow, Jr. – Daws Butler; Doggie Daddy, Bigelow Mouse – Doug Young.
Music: Hoyt Curtin.
Episode: Quick Draw McGraw Show M-045, Production J-132.
First Aired: 1961-62 season.
Plot: Doggie Daddy tries to get rid of Augie’s house guest, a Jimmy Cagney-sounding mouse.

Was there an attempt at Hanna-Barbera to build up Bigelow the mouse to launch him into his own series of cartoons? Maybe. The information may be resting in the studio files somewhere. But he made appearances in several different series, including this Augie Doggie cartoon. And he borrowed the voice of Jimmy Cagney, following other Hanna-Barbera characters based on film or TV actors/characters.

The problem with Bigelow is, once you get past the Cagney tough-guy persona, he doesn’t have much else, at least not in this cartoon. Cagney is not exactly a comic character. So the cartoon has to rely on another ersatz version of a celebrity voice—Jimmy Durante’s—and some violence to provide the comedy.

Ed Parks is the credited animator. Here are a couple of his “funny violence” drawings from a little cycle. The gag is Doggie Daddy uses a stethoscope to place a small stick of dynamite in a wall where Bigelow is hiding. It explodes after Bigelow runs out and places it in the stethoscope.



You’d think Daddy would have a funny line to cap the gag. Nah. Either Mike Maltese couldn’t think of something or it was cut off the storyboard for time.

Maltese gets in a few things I like, but they’re not rip-roaringly funny. Doggie Daddy doesn’t make stew for dinner. He makes “del-ih-cee-ous stew.” And that’s how it’s referred to throughout the cartoon. Augie refers to him as “dear old Escoffier-type dad.” Perhaps they loved Auguste Escoffier at Warner Bros.; the other ex-Warners writer at H-B, Warren Foster, referred to the noted chef in a Yogi Bear cartoon around this time. And Daddy modifies a Jack Benny routine when carrying Bigelow out of the home: “Train leavin’ on track five for the livin’ room, the den, and outta da house.” The train is the top of a toilet plunger (“a dome liner,” Daddy calls it).

Anyway, the cartoon has Augie not eating his stew and taking it to his room instead. Dear old dad consults the psy-co-cological book and decides to have a talk with Augie about it. That’s when he discovers Augie’s giving the stew to Bigelow, who has moved in without Daddy’s knowledge. Back to the book for more advice: “When a boy is determined to protect a moochin’ mouse, don’t force the issue. Instead, get rid of da mouse yourself. Then the boy will think the mouse left of his own violation.” So Dad gets Augie out of the house with $1 bill to go to the store, but the mouse outsmarts him every time. Bigelow stretches Daddy’s nose, slams the front door in his face and blasts his ears with the aforementioned dynamite before Augie returns. That’s when five little mice come out of the hole (one who emulates Cagney) and Augie tells dear old dad he’s feeding Bigelow’s whole family. Augie goes into his ‘can (fill-in-the-blank) stay?’ routine. Perhaps empathising with a single father, Daddy agrees. “After all,” he tells us, “a mouse who supports a family can’t be all bad.”



Tony Rivera (or perhaps Maltese) goes for a lot of single-character close-ups in this cartoon with nothing but a green card in the background. That gives BG guy Art Lozzi very little to do. This opening shot fills the first 13 seconds of the cartoon.



In case you’re wondering, the other Bigelow cartoons were:
● Express Train Lion (Snagglepuss)
● Foxy Friends (Yakky Doodle)
● Royal Rodent (Snagglepuss)
Plus, as SC33 mentioned in the comment section, three more in the Loopy De Loop theatrical series.

Hoyt Curtin’s cues are familiar from the Touché, Lippy, etc. shows produced around the same time.

2 comments:

  1. Maltese kind of has the same problem here as Dave Monahan had nearly two decades earlier with Friz Freleng's "Porky's Pastry Pirates", where you had the Cagney-ish bee bedeviling the title character. Once you get past the basic gag of the smaller guy being the aggressive one, it's hard to wring all that much humor out of watching the character you're normally rooting for get bullied for 4-5 minutes (not sure if Maltese had anything to do with the 1942 effort, but with Monahan headed into the Army, Mike was transitioning into Friz's main writer during that time).

    ReplyDelete
  2. According to Wikipedia, Bigelow the mouse appeared in some Loopy de Loop cartoons as well.

    I agree that it would be interesting to find out if Hanna-Barbera had plans for this character, as they used him in so many different series. The tough guy persona could only go so far, but somebody at H-B must have liked him for him to recur so much. I'm wondering if he was named after the character Billy Bigelow in "Carousel"?

    ReplyDelete