Saturday, January 3, 2015
Huckleberry Hound — Ben Huck
Credits: Animation – John Boersma; Layout – Tony Rivera; Backgrounds – Art Lozzi; Written by Tony Benedict; Story Director – Lew Marshall; Titles – Art Goble; Production Supervision – Howard Hanson.
Voice Cast: Huckleberry Hound, Crowd – Daws Butler; Narrator, Loudspeaker Voice, Referee, Mad Barbarian, Lion, Crowd – Don Messick.
Music: Hoyt Curtin.
First Aired: week of February 5, 1962.
Plot: In ancient Rome, Huck fights the Mad Barbarian.
Note: The title card is missing a yellow-boxed “Hanna-Barbera” above the title. It was on a separate cel.
Muttley and Precious Pupp snickered. But they didn’t wear out their welcome by snickering too often during a cartoon. This cartoon doesn’t have a dog (unless you count the humanised Huckleberry Hound) but it does have a Mad Barbarian who chuckles. And chuckles. And chuckles. 12 times in about five minutes. It’s too much. And it spoils the cartoon.
Tony Benedict follows the 1961 Huck story format. A narrator sets up the cartoon over a pan of a background. Huck and the narrator chat. Huck then takes on another character in a series of spot gags, commenting to us as things go along. This one has the addition of the main story being told in flashback, and then returning to the present at the end. It’s similar to the Yogi Bear cartoon “Hide and Go Peek” (1959), where it turns out a pile of rocks is really a camouflaged elephant. The same sort of thing happens here; Huck is disguised as a statue.
Here’s Art Lozzi’s background that opens the cartoon. Tony’s story plunks Huck into the days of Ben Hur (from the 1959 movie of the same name).
Intoning Narrator: Here amid the pomp and splendour of ancient Rome, stood many great monuments to the heroes of the Empire.
(fade into next background drawing)
Intoning Narrator: The great Caesar. The brilliant Augustus. And the most famous of all—Ben Huck.
At this point, Hoyt Curtin’s fan-fare cue is cut off and replaced with a dissonant trumpet making a questioning sound (I can’t explain it, but you’ve heard it on “The Flintstones”). The “statue” says “Howdy, narrator” and kibitzes with the off-screen voice about why he’s “hidin’ out, kinda secret-like.” Then we go into the flashback.
The next little bit may be the best part of the cartoon. Huck arrives at the Roman Coliseum (as the background drawing spells it). “And I outta go on inside so’s that everyone can shout and throw me posies and all.” That’s what they do. “And there’s just one thing about this hero business,” Huck tells us, as flowers start to cover him. “You just got ta like posies.” That’s when he’s clocked with a flower pot containing posies. Tony tosses in some sign gags.
Odds and ends...
● Huck’s vocabulary includes Bugs Bunny’s “stragedy.”
● Our hero mangles the language when he remarks about the Barbarian: “He must have a statistic sense of humor.”
● Daws doesn’t pronounce the “w” in “sword” like he did in countless cartoons, including at least one of Huck’s.
● For a moment, it sounds like Charlie Shows slipped into the writing room, as Huck asks “How about a truce, Bruce?”
● Near the end of the flashback, there’s a little bongo sound effect when the Barbarian runs in place before rushing off scene to find Huck.
● Hoyt Curtin’s trombone stomp that includes a sampling of “English Country Garden” as well as the minor key variation of the Flintstones’ “Rise and Shine” theme are included on the soundtrack.
With this post, we’ve reviewed every cartoon that appeared on the Huckleberry Hound and Quick Draw McGraw series.