Saturday, December 27, 2014

Pixie and Dixie — Magician Jinks

Produced and Directed by Joe Barbera and Bill Hanna.
Credits: Animation – Ed Parks, Layout – Jerry Eisenberg, Backgrounds – Art Lozzi, Written by Warren Foster, Story Director – John Freeman, Titles – Art Goble, Production Supervision – Howard Hanson.
Voice Cast: Pixie, Muggs, Monster – Don Messick; Mr. Jinks, Dixie – Daws Butler.
Music: Hoyt Curtin.
First Aired: 1962.
Plot: Jinks uses a magic kit to make Pixie and Dixie disappear.

That Mr. Jinks. What a phoney.

His only intention during this cartoon is to rid his life of Pixie and Dixie. Miraculously, he succeeds (sort of), thanks to an incantation from a book of magic. But when he’s fed a line by the dog next door that the meeces have been left a million-dollar inheritance, he wants them back. For only one reason, of course. Soliloquises the cat: “My buddies, Pixie and Dixie. They have untolled wealth. And I made ‘em disappear before they could tell me.” So he tries a different magic phrase to bring them back. It doesn’t work. “No millionaires. I mean, no buddies,” he forlornly tells himself.

This is the second cartoon where Jinks tries to make the meeces disappear. The first one was “Jinks’ Mice Device” in the first season. In that one, he turns them invisible and they decide to play some tricks on him. In this fourth season cartoon, Jinks’ magic phrase transports them from their basement to somewhere behind the house next door where Muggs the dog lives. How? Why? Who knows. Evidently Jinks isn’t following the instructions in the book for he somehow summons a blue creature when he tries to get them back. Jerry Eisenberg, being the layout artist, would have designed the dog and horned beast. The dog looks a lot like the huge-jawed one in the Huck cartoon “TV or Not TV,” or perhaps Chopper with different proportions, and the scale-backed creature (with a great voice by Don Messick) could have escaped from a Flintstones episode.



The credits say Ed Park animated this cartoon and I really can’t say one way or another if that’s right or wrong. But a few weeks back, it was mentioned that John Boersma liked drawing characters with the hand extended flat and the pinkie crooked up. You can see that in this cartoon. Perhaps Boersma did part of the cartoon or it’s a drawing quirk that belonged to more than one H-B animator. The rest of the artwork doesn’t remind me of Boersma.



There’s brushwork when characters zip out of the frame.



Do postmen blow whistles any more after they leave mail at a home? Did they ever? It happens to open this cartoon. Jinks’ magic kit has, like, arrived (Mr. Jinks has his very own mailbox, labelled as such). Jinks tells the curious Pixie and Dixie to get back in their “meece-hole” and does a little angry stomp in place when he orders them. “I wonder what’s in that package, Dixie,” says Pixie. Dixie responds “I don’t know. But I’ve got a feeling we’re going to find out. During the scene, Pixie puts his right arm behind his back, making it look like he has only one arm. Oh, well. Not drawing a second arm saved some money.



Fade to Jinks in the cellar, following the instructions in his do-it-your-self magic kit. He admits to us he only bought it “make those two miserable meeces go into, like, the Twilight Zone.” As Pixie and Dixie listen behind a closed door, Mr. Jinks practises his disappearing trick by twiddling his fingers (“it’s a certain twist of the wrist that does it”) and shouting “Crackey-Sackey-Nackey-Poof!” “I did it! Hurrah! I did it! The apple is gone!” he cries in success. The puzzled meeces look at each other. “The apple is gone?” says Pixie. “That’s not all that’s gone,” Dixie observes. Jinks follows with a song lyric. “I got it! I got that old black magic in my spell!”



Jinks cons the meeces into taking part in his magic act and he makes them disappear (evidently he brought the magic stand upstairs because the background is a green living room wall, not the reddish confines of the cellar). Jinks nods his head at us in affirmation. But Pixie and Dixie don’t really disappear. They merely get transported to the neighbour’s back yard. Note the downward-pointing fronds on the bush. Art Lozzi at work.



In “Party Pepper Jinks,” the neighbouring white bulldog who decided to help the meeces get revenge on Jinks was named Rocky. In this one, he’s named Muggs. And, as we’ve mentioned, he concocts a story about Pixie and Dixie being millionaires, so the desperate Jinks tries to bring them back with the magic words “Afraghani Whosistan.” Instead, he makes a snarking monster appear. There’s a really interesting take when it happens. Jinks is suspended in mid-air while he flaps his arms and feet, then crosses his feet. He tries to make it disappear—Daws has a really great delivery when Jinks puts the magic cloth on the creature’s horn and says “Gee, you look better already”—but he’s forgotten the magic words. The meeces can’t help because they’re forgotten the words, too. Instead of grabbing the instruction book and looking them up, Jinks simply runs. And the cartoon ends with another eternal chase, the monster running after Jinks as they pass the same tree eight times before the fade out.



A side note for you youngsters reading: among the incorrect magic words that Jinks chants are “Ishkabibble” and “Cucamonga.” The former was the nickname of a cornet player and sidekick on Kay Kyser’s radio show. The latter is a town in California popularised on the Jack Benny radio show as part of a list of railroad stops shouted out by train announcer Mel Blanc.

Hoyt Curtin had a bunch of electric organ cues (someone can tell me if it’s a Wurlitzer or a Hammond) that were plunked down in cartoons around this time. The underscore also has a couple of bridges popularised on “The Flintstones” and “Paddle faster, Hardy!” music closes the cartoon.

I’m afraid we now bid adieu to Mr. Jinks and the miserable meeces. We’ve reviewed all 55 Pixie and Dixie cartoons.

5 comments:

  1. Looking around, it was normal for postmen to carry a whistle back then, but it got phased out around the early 1950s.

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  2. The blue monster looks like a combination of Alfie Gator, Wally Gator, Chopper and Dino.

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  3. Sure does, spacecat. (I recall the Ishkabibble,lnes (besides, of course, being on Kay Kyser's radio show he was novelty/cornet persona on many Kyser vocalists) and Cucumonga (Mel Blanc reference which was now getting "closure" with Mel having a season before started being Barney on "Flintstones" not to mention being written by Mel's buddy from WB Warren Foster.)

    Adieu, miserable meeces.

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  4. 12/28/14
    RobGems.ca Wrote:
    I say Muggs the bulldog was later re-designed by the H-B staff to become Chopper. That's what I call re-using your characters for limited animation. After all, wasn't The Catanooga Cat's Kitty-Jo re-designed to become Scooby Doo's Daphne Blake? (a cat-to-human transformation, I believe.)H-B studios did this trick a number of times.

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  5. Oh yes...Ishkabibble, remember the name well on Kay Kyser " from the College of Musical Knowlege ". As for Mel, I still can't keep a straight face when watching or listening to any of the Benny Shows that feature our favorite depot announcer. I can't count how many times I've heard the routine. Still funny. Great writing and timing. Super job on reviewing all the Pixie and Dixie shorts. Jinx has always been one of my favorite Daws vocal creations.

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