Saturday, May 7, 2016

Yakky Doodle – Whistle-Stop and Go

Produced and Directed by Joe Barbera and Bill Hanna.
Credits: Animation – Art Davis, Layout – Tony Rivera, Backgrounds – Dick Thomas, Written by Mike Maltese, Story Director – Alex Lovy, Titles – Art Goble, Production Supervision – Howard Hanson.
Voice Cast: Yakky Doodle – Jimmy Weldon; Chopper – Vance Colvig; Dog Catcher, Hunter, Fibber Fox – Daws Butler.
Music: Hoyt Curtin.
Plot: Chopper gives Yakky a whistle to use when he needs help.
Copyright 1961 by Hanna-Barbera Productions

In The Bodyguard, Jerry the mouse helps Butch the bulldog escape from a dog catcher and, in return, promises to run to him for help if he just whistles. 17 years later, the same plot gets revisited in this cartoon. The difference is the dog in this case (Chopper) gives Yakky Doodle a real whistle to blow for assistance.

Actually, the best version of this plotline was in the great Tex Avery cartoon Bad Luck Blackie (1949), written by Rich Hogan. It’s really unfair to compare a TV cartoon to one of Avery’s greatest pieces of work but Whistle-Stop and Go is plain lame. The clever Mike Maltese just didn’t seem to be terribly inspired by Bill and Joe’s fetish for a little duck.

There’s a sequence where a hunter is trying to get a bead on Yakky, who is jumping up and down blowing his whistle. Chopper rushes into the scene. He grabs Yakky and pulls him away just as the hunter fires and misses. “Are ya hurt, little feller?” asks Chopper. Yakky just shakes his head. Maltese couldn’t be bothered to even work up a quip like he wrote so well at Warner Bros. and for Hanna-Barbera on Quick Draw McGraw. There’s nothing funny or amusing in the whole sequence. Maltese doesn’t even try. It’s like the first half of the cartoon is a long set-up with no pay-off.

One of the things that keeps this cartoon from being a total loss is the appearance of Fibber Fox. I’ve always liked Fibber’s resignation to his fate and how he comments to the audience about it. “Can you guess what’s going to happen now?” he says to us after unexpectedly attracting the revengeful Chopper with a magnet instead of Yakky’s whistle. About 20 frames later—punch in the nose! The ending’s good, too, as Yakky tricks Fibber into being swooped away by the dog catcher (a faint echo of Maltese’s Hubie and Bertie cartoons at Warners. Now if Yakky had played head-games like those two mice, we would have a really good series).

This is a cartoon that will drive continuity freaks nuts. It tells a story of how Chopper and Yakky first met. Except there was at least one other cartoon which did the same thing. How can that be? Simple. No one cared about that kind of stuff then. No one kept track of it. There was no need to. As Yakky writer Tony Benedict puts it: “There were no bibles back then.” Writers were free to create whatever they wanted outside of the basics.

One of the fine veterans of the industry animated this cartoon. You can tell Art Davis’ animation in some of the Hanna-Barbera animal cartoons by the tight curved smile or grin that goes way up into the head. There’s sometimes a little row of teeth.



And some exit-from-scene drawings. The first pair are consecutive frames.



Dick Thomas’ backgrounds feature sketchy grass patches and outlines around bush foliage. For a change, his sky isn’t blue. He uses a drab shade of green. He adds a bit of bright colouring on the flowers to avoid everything looking like part of the same palette.

Joe Ruby, or whoever did the sound cutting on this, inserts Hoyt Curtin’s versions of “Strolling Through the Park One Day,” “Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star” and the William Tell Overture, along with some familiar bassoon cues from other cartoons around this time. And the soundtrack features the standard “Ain’t that cute!” and “Close your little eyes, Yakky. You shouldn’t oughta see...” catchphrases.

3 comments:

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  2. Yakky does one---just one,mind you--ingenious idea--when Fibber uses a clothespin on Yakky's beak, then, Yakky takes a bicycle pump and pumps it into the whistle to make it, uh, you know, whistle. I seem to remember this as the cartoon where Hoyt Curtin tries a version of Roger Williams's "Autumn Leaves", or variant, when FIbber tries using a balloon to float up while grabbing Yakky before Chopper does the same thing, pricking Fibber's(?).SC
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  3. Oh---looking at the last panel, where Chopper the Bulldog's cuts Fibber's balloon strings, it's clear that this IS the one with Fibber floating and an "Autumn leaves" like piano riff, apparently only done by Curtin for this one, played as Chopper comes down with the two letting loose their own "falling leaves": riffs. Excellent cartoon due to Fibber and the other bits..btw surprised the clothespin he uses is a more modern realistic looking one in 1961, not those wishbone like affairs we often see as clothespins in cartoons.SC

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