Saturday, August 2, 2014
Pixie and Dixie — Homeless Jinks
Animation – Ken O’Brien, Carlo Vinci; Layout – Tony Rivera, Backgrounds – Dick Thomas, Written by Warren Foster, Story Director – Lew Marshall, Titles – Art Goble, Production Supervision – Howard Hanson (BCDB credits).
Voice Cast: Dixie, Jinks, Jeeves, Hooey – Daws Butler; Pixie, George, Louie – Don Messick.
Music: Hoyt Curtin.
First aired: 1961-62 season.
Plot: Pixie and Dixie enlist neighbourhood mice to help Mr. Jinks get his mouse-catching job back after being fired by butler Jeeves.
Back in the 1920s and early 1930s, the ultra-cheap Paul Terry would fill the screen with cycle animation of dozens of mice scurrying about. 30 years later, the thrifty Bill Hanna, Alex Lovy et al wouldn’t even allow that.
There’s a scene in “Homeless Jinks,” when the throngs of mice helping Pixie and Dixie run outside a house in phoney fear of Mr. Jinks. The shot shows Pixie and Dixie standing against a baseboard. “Here they come,” says Dixie. “And there they go,” adds Pixie. At no time do we see any other mice, fleeing in horror or otherwise. There is simply a sound effect of feet, and Pixie and Dixie turning their heads from one side of the frame to the other, watching the mice that we can’t see. It’s ingenious in its penuriousness but I still feel cheated watching it.
Granted, we do get one shot of all the mice. Other than some eye blinks, the rodents remain rigid.
There are no credits on this cartoon but readers Howard Fein and Zartok-35 attribute the animation to Ken O’Brien, the former Disney (and, briefly, Lantz) animator who worked on a few cartoons at Hanna-Barbera. I’ll take their word for it, and some of the drawings of Jinks look very much like another cartoon where O’Brien’s credited. but there’s unmistakably another animator on this cartoon. Near the very end, Jinks swats at the meeces with a broom. Pixie and Dixie churn their legs in mid-air, back up, and stretch themselves to make a diving exit out of the frame. Only Carlo Vinci ever animated like that so he had to do that portion of the cartoon.
Several bits and pieces have been cobbled together in this cartoon’s plot. The butler with the modified Charles Laughton voice from “Sour Puss” (written by Warren Foster) returns and so does the concept of the-meeces-help-fired-Jinks-get-his-job-back from “Jiggers..It’s Jinks!” (written by Joe Barbera and Charlie Shows). This is another cartoon where the cat and the meeces are friends—Jinks comes back to say goodbye to them after he’s fired—but you know it can’t end that way because he has to mix in his “I hate meeces to pieces” catchphrase in somewhere.
After Jinks tells the meeces he’s been fired and leaving for good.
Pixie: Sure is lonesome around the house without Jinks, huh, Dixie?
Dixie: Sure is, Pixie. Especially when you figure he’s been gone only ten minutes.
Pixie and Dixie vow to get Jinks back by filling the house with mice, so Jeeves has to hire the cat to get rid of them. That’s when George (who has Don Messick’s growly voice) agrees to help and “get the boys together.” Jeeves is evidently paralysed with fright. Why else would he just stand there (only turning his head) when he hears the sound of mice? Oh, right. Less animation saves money. Eventually we do get a run cycle. Anyway, the mice do their job (frankly, Hooey and Louie are funnier than Pixie and Dixie in this one) and Jeeves brings home Mr. Jinks who he finds—emulating Sylvester—picking through food remains in a garbage can, using the lid as a tray. “They don’t throw much away these days,” Jinks ruminates as he looks at an apple core. “Let’s face it. I cannot live like this. I’m a spoiled house cat.”
George is a unique mouse, and not because he has a turtle-neck sweater with the letter ‘G’ on it. He is green. I don’t know how many green mice are out there. And I don’t think many people, if any, would have seen the show in colour when it originally aired. I wonder if the colour selection had more to do with how George would like on black-and-white sets, much like props and sets on “I Love Lucy” were tinted so they would show up better on black-and-white TVs.
There’s a nice little Hoyt Curtin cue with an organ and clarinet in the scene where Jinks gets the pink slip. Probably the best-known pieces of music are the xylophone and laughing trombone during the mouse attack scene and the fast xylophone “Fred-the-cops-are-following-us” piece at the end.