Saturday, 18 October 2014

Augie Doggie — Party Pooper Pop

Produced and Directed by Bill Hanna and Joe Barbera.
Credits: Animation – Harry Holt, Layout – Tony Rivera, Backgrounds – Fernando Montealegre, Written by Mike Maltese, Story Director – Lew Marshall, Titles – Art Goble, Production Supervision – Howard Hanson.
Voice Cast: Doggie Daddy – Doug Young, Augie Doggie, Harold – Daws Butler.
Music: Hoyt Curtin.
Episode: Quick Draw McGraw Show M-044, Production J-129.
First Aired: 1961-62 season.
Plot: Doggie Daddy tries to teach Augie how to be fun at parties.

Here’s a cartoon with a great premise that, unfortunately, is victimised by being trapped by the confines of television animation. If Hanna-Barbera was producing, say, a dozen shorts a year, Mike Maltese would have had time to come up with punchier observations by Augie Doggie as his dad miserably fails at being an entertainer. And, of course, if budgets were in the theatrical range, someone like Ken Harris could have done a hilarious job of Daddy’s vaudevillian soft-shoe. But the studio had neither the time nor money, so it did what it could.

Harry Holt is the animator on this one. Holt had been living in Portland in 1936 when he visited his mother in Los Angeles and, pretty much on a whim, applied at the Disney studio. There he stayed for 20 years. He worked in Chicago from 1956-60 (for Leo Burnett, perhaps?) and then came back to the West Coast for a job at Hanna-Barbera. He died in Florida in 2004 at the age of 93. You can read more about his life here.

Holt animates Doggie Daddy with lots of head wagging and nodding and even a Dick Lundy-like snout roll at one point. A few times, he has Daddy look at the camera almost straight on. H-B’s animators tended to avoid doing it. Here are four drawings from a stunned reaction. Daddy has thick eyebrows in this cartoon, too.



Doggie Daddy was kind of an animated Ozzie Nelson. “Ozzie and Harriet” was on the air for years. Ozzie was always able to support his family but he never went to work. Doggie Daddy doesn’t seem to have a job. In many cartoons, he’s sitting in a lounge chair reading a newspaper. At least in this cartoon, we know that Daddy did have a job at one time. He reveals he was in vaudeville. Considering his material, we suspect he didn’t play the big time. I can’t help but think besides Ozzie, there’s a little bit of Mike Maltese in this cartoon. Maltese could do a soft shoe dance and seems to have had a pining for performing at the Palace.

The lounge chair in this cartoon is supplied by Monte, who didn’t work on a whole lot of short cartoons in 1961-62. I don’t have credits handy, but I imagine he was spending his time on “The Flintstones” and “Top Cat.” Monte also seems to have loved oval throw rugs in the Daddy residence.

There’s rare interaction between Augie and a human child in this cartoons (“TV or Not TV,” for example, featured a humanised puppy as a neighbour). Here’s Tony Rivera’s design.



The Augie in this cartoon is the boy genius version, who would rather continue his boy genius studies in solitude and avoid the other neighbourhood kids, partly because he doesn’t fit in with them. Today, he’s rechecking Einstein’s Theory of Relativity. “I do believe I caught old Albert in a slight error,” he tells “naïve dad.” His Monte-designed bedroom doesn’t have an “H-B” pennant this time.

Daddy forces Augie to go to the party next door and then reminisces about his own days as young party-goer. They were genteel affairs, apparently, as Daddy recalls how he bowed for the ladies. That’s Augie’s cue to walk in blindfolded and stab Daddy in the butt (off-camera) with a tail from a pin-the-tail-on the donkey game.



Daddy now decides to help Augie fit in with the other kids, so he gives him a riddle to tell the kids: “What has four eyes and but cannot see. The answer is Miss-Eye-Sippi.” Augie isn’t laughing. “The joke is based on a play on words, which makes it a childish pun,” he says. One wonders if Maltese was once told that at a story meeting. “I got a thousand of ‘em. A thousand of ‘em,” the Durante-like Daddy tells us (Durante’s line on radio was “I got a million of ‘em”). Augie returns with his head down.

Daddy: Did you forget the funny joke?
Augie: I wish I had, father of old vaudeville days.
Daddy: Ya mean ya told it?
Augie: I mean I told it and I laid a great big egg.
Daddy: Well, maybe it was over their pointy little heads.
Augie: Oh, no, they got it. But the new generation with their pointy little heads also have very sharp brains.

Interestingly, Augie’s comment reflects Joe Barbera’s feelings in interviews about why kids got “adult” jokes in Hanna-Barbera cartoons.

Undaunted, Daddy decides to teach Augie his old vaudeville routine to try on the kids, complete with his rickety-tick fancy dance. Maltese hands Daddy what may be the oldest one-liner in vaudeville—“Folks, on my way to de tee-a-ter, a panhandler stopped me and he said he hadn’t had a bite in a week. So, I bit him!” (“Tsk, tsk, tsk,” reacts Augie). “Go lay ‘em in the aisles,” Daddy tells him. “Why fight it?” Augie shrugs. He returns with Daddy’s straw hat broken over his head. “Another egg, my disappointed father. Rickety-tick and all.”



Finally, dear old dad gives Augie the best advice—be yourself. Augie is. And he’s a hit, showing off the workings of a rocket to the kids next door. A rather nice ending to a well-rounded cartoon. I can’t help but think if this were “Yogi’s Gang” or some such ‘70s cartoon dreck, the “be yourself” message would be unsubtly and didactically hammered into viewers in the least entertaining manner possible.

Daddy ends the cartoon with a Durante catchphrase paraphrase: “Dat’s my boy of tomorrow who said dat today!”

Hoyt Curtin’s version of “While Strolling Through the Park One Day” makes an appearance during Daddy’s vaudeville routine. It’s preceded by an organ cue that I don’t believe was used too often.

With this review, we bid farewell to Augie and dear old dad. All 45 cartoons made in the series have been reviewed.

9 comments:

  1. Achacha.! Farewell Doggie, wherever you are..:) I noted that Doggie and Augie had one ear in those scenes...Maltese, of course, also used a soft shoe by Mama Bear in the WB short "A Bear for Punishent" (ironically, also a last short, for the Three Bears),1951).

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  2. I can’t help but think if this were “Yogi’s Gang” or some such ‘70s cartoon dreck, the “be yourself” message would be unsubtly and didactically hammered into viewers in the least entertaining manner possible.

    The difference between Joe Barbera having to make the network boys happy (especially network boys who'd like to become network men, and move into meaningful prime-time entertainment and news programing) and Joe Barbera simply trying to make Kellogg's and Leo Burnett happy (just make sure the box of Gro-Pup is animated into the Snuffles sequences and you're good to go).

    This is a nice cartoon to end the reviews of the series on, because it shows the difference between the late 50s-early 60s H-B efforts, which were only trying to entertain the viewer and attract as many viewers as possible, and they way things had gotten a decade later, where if you were going to revive the characters (or, a few years later, Tom & Jerry) it had to be justified in some socially responsible way, either via fun-killing messaging or de-fanging most of the theatrical-based bits that made the original TV cartoons enjoyable in the first place.

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  3. First: J. Lee is right-on in his observation above!

    Doggie Daddy did have another job – as a watchdog (or, perhaps more accurately, a security guard) which Augie once wanted to emulate. The title of the particular cartoon eludes me, because these are not on DVD for me to review.

    If there is any criticism to be made, it is that Augie is inconsistently characterized – sometimes as a boy-genius and sometimes not. Though, maybe there was an “evolution” of sorts that I just failed to observe because I have no way of viewing the cartoons in any sort of order, or totality. …Thanks again, Warner Home Video!

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    Replies
    1. "Watch Dog Augie"

      ... these are not on DVD for me to review.Thanks again, Warner Home Video!

      As Daddy/Durante would reply, "Dem's da conditions dat prevails!"



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    2. Sorry, link was supposed to go to:

      www.yowpyowp.blogspot.com/search?q=watch+dog+augie

      Delete
  4. This cartoon was very boring- virtually all dialogue and no action or sight gags, unless you count Augie returning home with the straw hat broken over this head. It would have fun to see him attempt this routine and his friends' reaction to it- which obviously was not favorable.

    A kid watching this cartoon might not think much of a anthropomorphized dog-kid hanging out with 'human' kids, but watching it as an adult I do find it a bit odd.

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  5. I also agree with J.Lee's observations about the difference in the message between this and the 1970s-later "do-gooder network/parental" types favorites...not to mention the all star fever that plagued those shows mentioned like Yogi's Gang and later ones.SC

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  6. We cannot forget that Harry Holt - who animated this Augie Doggie & Doggie Daddy episode in question - was the responsible to create the animatronic puppets from one of the atractions from Walt Disney World: It's a Small World.

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  7. Speaking of Yogi's gang, if Michal Maltese had wrote for that show, it might have handled its morals better.

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