Saturday, 6 September 2014

Yogi Bear — Missile Bound Yogi

Produced and Directed by Bill Hanna and Joe Barbera.
Credits: Animation – C.L. Hartman, Layout – Dan Noonan, Backgrounds – Art Lozzi, Written by Warren Foster, Story Director – Alex Lovy, Titles – Art Goble, Production Supervision – Howard Hanson.
Voice Cast: Yogi Bear, General, Second Soldier – Daws Butler; Boo Boo, Ranger Smith, First Soldier – Don Messick.
Music: Hoyt Curtin.
First Aired: 1961-62 season.
Plot: Yogi disrupts a war game at Jellystone Park.

Warren Foster worked some military satire into a couple of Yogi Bear cartoons, both with “missile” in the title. This one has the smallest amount. That distinguished military vet Ranger Smith talks with a general who is leading war games at Jellystone.

Ranger: I suppose warfare has changed a lot since I was in the service, sir.
General: Well, the weapons keep changing, but the idea’s the same. Two armies line up and they try to clobber the daylights out of each other. Ha ha ha hah ha ha ha!
Ranger: That’s the way it was in my time.
General: That’s the way it is every time.

The plot’s driven by the ignorant Yogi, who attacks without getting the facts first. The soldiers he’s bashing are on his side? There’s no time to find out unimportant details like that; he’s got to get them before they get him. Stand your ground, Yogi!

The final scene—where Yogi’s forced to eat an entire picnic basket, only to discover it’s full of untasty K-rations—might seem an odd one to stick in what’s supposed to be a children’s cartoon series. But Joe Barbera mentioned in a number of interviews that kids watched adult shows and got jokes like that. Certainly I got it when I was a kid 50 years ago but I couldn’t tell you where I first saw the gag.

The idea of war games inside a national park is a little disconcerting, but I suppose it’s for the convenience of the plot.

Art Lozzi gives us more of his bluish tints and rolling hills with hugging clouds and trees to match. Here’s a great background. Ranger Smith and the general drive past the same trees in their jeep 12 times before cutting to a close-up (and driving past another clump of trees 16 times before the scene fades). The Ranger has a map of Jellystone on his office walls.

You can see some blue shrubbery overlays on these two.

C.L. Hartman received the animation credit. He draws a lot of the dialogue with open mouth shapes on the head that move around. I’ve reviewed three of his cartoons here and I can’t see a lot of stylistic similarities among them.

The less said about Foster’s rhyming dialogue, the better. “In our forest domain, we’re on the gravy train,” exclaims Yogi at the outset of the cartoon. He paraphrases Nathan Hale with “I regret that I have only one life to give for Jellystone,” and then Churchill when he tells the ranger: “Remember, this was our finest hour.”

The plot’s straight-forward. War games are being conducted at Jellystone, Yogi just can’t stay away, he steals the general’s picnic basket, then gets fired on as the games begin. He vows to fight back with a (blue) stick and clobbers all the American soldiers. The games are now fouled up and called off, Yogi is captured and forced to eat the untasty military grub in the basket. The end.

Hoyt Curtin’s underscore fits the cartoon. The Yogi Bear theme song is brought up in the final scene.


  1. Giving credit where it ought to be due, Foster’s dialogue between Ranger Smith and the General was the type of thing that lifted the early Hanna-Barbera cartoons well above standard kiddie fare!

    It’s a shame Joe Barbera didn’t remember that “…kids watched adult shows and got jokes like that” all those years later (post-syndication) when he was cranking out bland-or-bad stuff for his network masters.

  2. I found this episode to be slightly surreal. The Rangers and the Bears all marching with rifles! Bizarre!