Saturday, November 29, 2014

Yogi Bear — Missile-Bound Bear

Produced and Directed by Joe Barbera and Bill Hanna.
Credits: Animation – Bill Keil, Layout –Tony Rivera, Backgrounds – Fernando Montealegre, Written by Warren Foster, Story Director – Paul Sommer, Titles – Art Goble, Production Supervision – Howard Hanson.
Voice Cast: Yogi Bear, General – Daws Butler; Boo Boo, Ranger Smith, Fired Soldier, Driver – Don Messick.
Music: Hoyt Curtin.
First Aired: 1961-62 season.
Plot: Yogi, Boo Boo and Ranger accidentally launch themselves into space.

Jay Ward cartoons were known for taking shots at things. Hanna-Barbera cartoons were not. This cartoon is about as satirical as Hanna-Barbera would get. The cracks at the U.S. military are the highlight of the cartoon. Not an awful lot else happens.

It opens with a general at a secret briefing in Washington, D.C., revealing how a rocket shot from Jellystone Park (a national park?!) will put a man in orbit for the first time. “We’re using an entirely new system of rocket launching,” says the general. “This new system is to launch the rocket first then talk about it. We’ve never done it this way before, but it’s worth a try.”

Yogi, Boo Boo and Ranger Smith end up in the rocket and accidentally make it lift off. A guard, who didn’t notice the three goes inside, watches the blast off. “Typical operation,” he says to the camera. “The enlisted man’s never told a thing.”

He reports the launch to the general. “The rocket? That is impossible. It would take hours to press the right buttons, pull the right switches, in the exact sequence. Even we don’t know how. That’s why we’ve been delayed.”

The three try to figure out how to get back to Earth. Boo Boo remembers reading about an escape hatch in a magazine article. Ranger Smith clasps his hands. “Thank goodness there are no military secrets in this country.”

The general fires the guard who reported the launch. The guard’s so delighted his helmet jumps off in excitement. “Fired?” From the Army? Mabel, baby’s coming home!” says the guard. So much for dedication for the serving the country.

The rest of the cartoon is the typical. It’s yet another cartoon where Yogi hibernates. It’s yet another cartoon where Boo Boo is “the good bear.” It’s another cartoon that ends with Ranger Smith promising Yogi a picnic basket if he won’t do something, in this case publicise the rocket launch (Yogi, ever the iconoclast, is willing to disobey the general’s “order” to keep quiet about it, while the uniformed, ex-military Smith is happy to comply). And it’s another cartoon that ends in a rhyme: “You’ve a lot of cheek, but when it comes to pic-a-nic baskets, I’m very, very weak,” says Yogi after the Ranger bribes him into silence with food. I do like the bit that Yogi is awoken from his sleep because Ranger Smith hadn’t finished singing the lullabye to him.

Let’s look at some background drawings.



The credits say Monty did the backgrounds for this cartoon. Monty’s stuff was much flatter in the earlier cartoons. The frame below has a tree with the fronds hanging down. Art Lozzi drew trees like that, so it’s possible he contributed some backgrounds. Lozzi once mentioned that the credits weren’t altogether accurate.



Bill Keil animates Yogi with a little line from the nose to the lip, with the head slightly turned.



Hoyt Curtin’s underscore is typical for 1961. For whatever reason, the ranger is humming Brahms’ Lullaby while one of Curtin’s tunes is playing. It clashes.

6 comments:

  1. The U.S.'s early problems with launching rockets after Sputnik led to some spectacular failures and likely made an easy target (so to speak) for Foster here and for H-B in general in a few other early cartoons.

    The other thing with the earlier cartoons in the series was the cynicism was put into the main characters, whether it be the original grumpy Yogi or the preparing-for-the-worst early personality of the Ranger. By 1961, we're locked into the 'brighter' more formalistic personalities, and Foster has to find his satire elsewhere, in this case through the supporting military characters. It wasn't a step up for the cartoons, just as brightening up the main characters' personalities on "The Flintstones" hurt the series' later seasons.

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  2. I've always found this pretty funny: The ranger and Boo-Boo, both thinking that Yogi's sleepwalking, find Yogi in the missile: Ranger goes into the old General Douglas MacArthur
    pronouncement:"You haven't even BEGUN to hibernate" at which minute the rocket takes off but the gang has to wait till the ranger looks at the earth being left more and more behind, innocently and blissfully commented on Texas's largeness pre-double-take, noting where they are, and the argument between the big bear and ranger over who's fault it is. I also love the miltiary guard's mixing twenty seconds up with twenty minutes with no passage of time (but no complaint on my part) and the comment Yowp mentioned above about (Yogi saying) the ranger having cheek, and the picnic baskets/weak part. Agreed TOTALLY with Yowp about the singing versus background music clash (always bothered me regardless of studio, franchise, composer, song---Huckleberry Hound, within the Hanna-Barbera uiniverse, sininging Clementine over Jack Shaindlin's "Fun on Ice" at the end of Season 3 Huck's "Nutts over Mutts" has the same effect though I still love the cartoon. I prefer Huck or any cartoon character singing a capella or to the music.) Not sure if I can side with the argument that Hanna-Barbera didn't really do satire, though the comparision against Jay Ward being really satirical I'll agree with though---HB with The Flintstones showbiz parodies in Seasons 1 and 2 (esp.with the Phil Silvers like character, one of those mentioned in the Jerry Mann article that Manndid as Silvers, in Season 1's "Hollyrock Here I Come", had a lot of glib references to bringing in any actor off the street - Fred's big "Frogmouth".). That was written also by Warren Foster (remaking Mike Maltese's Bugs, Elmer and Daffy short from earlier that year,1960, "From Person to Bunny", the Edward R.Murrow satire, with the "rigged stage fright gag" come the end....any cartoon that has a Sgt.Bilko guy seeing a fat caveman acting like Ralph Kramden, yelling, and the TV producer saying "Perfect! He';S PERFECT for 'The Frogmouth)' ranks as really higher satire even more so than this Yogi cartoon reviewed ("Missile Bound Bear") above..and of course Top Cat if only for the Sgt.Bilko-like antics (okay, maybe not specifically satire but definitely a much more biting show for trying something like using a Bilko like cat gang in a New York City alley.:-))

    Still, of course, Ward's satire is the gold standard in 60s cartoons and was much better, agreed, on satire especially as Hanna-Barbera became more of a mainstream, middle of the road cartoon studio by 1966.


    There must have been nigh half dozen "Missile bound..." Hanna-Barbera cartoon titles....a season 3 "Pixie and Dixie" ("Huckleberry Hound" show, 1960-1961, one of the last to use stock music before Hoyt Curtin's replaced it) that was a remake of Season 1's Zorro parody (which really wasn't much of one) "Mark of the Mouse" with a much more better idea for an avenger-----Season 3's "Missile Bound Cat", replacing the French mouse of the earlier with a space Cat, was the first "Missile Bound" cartoon at HB, "Missile Bound Cat".


    Steve

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  3. Yeah, J.L., Foster commented on stuff with secondary characters in other cartoons (the TV industry in a few, the music industry in others). Whether it's a step up or down doesn't make much difference, it still works when it's done well (like in "Droop-a-long Yogi," the review of which will appear soon). The straight Yogi-vs-1961 Ranger Smith is when the cartoons lose something.

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    1. The good thing is that the lines are still in the cartoons, which would pretty much disappear once we get to the Wally/Touche/Lippy efforts, that were done in a current event-free vacuum.

      I suppose by 1962 the mindset was any more adult-targeted lines would best by used in H--B's prime time shows instead of their syndicated fare. I find the last group of Yogi cartoons weaker than the first four dozen, but they're still more enjoyable than what followed (a handful of the earliest cartoons on Magilla Gorilla were allowed to have asides that referred to some current events or things more directed at adults, but the studio got rid of that post-haste in favor of things that both couldn't be dated but also had little or not bite in their dialogue).

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  4. Whether or not the satiric lines were delivered by the stars, or by ancillary characters, it was the VERY PRESENCE of such lines that separated the early Hanna-Barbera cartoons, from those that followed.

    Yogi *himself* might have been funnier in 1958, than in 1961, but his cartoons (and those of Huck, Quick Draw, etc.) were still great all-ages entertainment!

    …And, it’s that “all-ages” stuff that eventually went away!

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  5. This is one of the few times where the three characters, instead of opposing conflict, are in the same boat together.

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