Credits: Animation – Lew Marshall, Layout – Paul Sommer, 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, Jr.; Cat – Daws Butler; Ducks – Daws Butler, Jimmy Weldon.
Music: Hoyt Curtin.
Copyright 1960 by Hanna-Barbera Productions
Plot: Chopper the dog protects Yakky Doodle the duck from an unnamed cat.
There were at least two cartoons that showed how Yakky Doodle and Chopper met. There was no “story bible” or “canon” full of trivia back in the earliest days of TV cartoons. I suspect this was the first “origin” cartoon. For one thing, it’s the only cartoon where Chopper hints at how get got his name (he tells the trespassing duck “I’ll chomp you with my choppers”). For another, the cartoon is full of Hoyt Curtin piano and organ music I don’t recall hearing in any other cartoon. And still for another, I believe this is the only Yakky cartoon copyrighted in 1960 (send me a correction if I’m wrong).
Most of the music is fairly up tempo. There may be a reason for that. As you may know, Yakky Doodle is descended from a little duck character that first appeared in the Tom and Jerry cartoon Little Quacker (1950). Bill Hanna and Joe Barbera apparently loved the duckling and put him in more MGM cartoons, then brought him along to Hanna-Barbera where he annoyed Yogi Bear and a number of other characters. The character was almost always full of self pity, whining how he didn’t have a mother and no one loved him.
Let’s face it. Who wants that in a starring character? So when Yakky got his own series, there seems to have been a deliberate attempt to try to make him less pathetic. When you’ve got tinkly upbeat piano music, instead of sad violins, in the background, it lends a more positive tone to the story.
The story opens with the duck unable to keep up with other ducks flying south for the winter because he’s too tired. He drops from the sky into Chopper’s water dish, splashing the dog in the process. The duck introduces himself to the dog. “Bow wow. Bow wow wow!” is the response. “Oh, you’re a dog, aren’t you?” says the astute duck. Chopper flicks him out of the scene, telling him to beat it. Yakky then pulls the pity act. “All right for you. You’ll be sorry. I’ll get lost and everything, and nobody will find me. And then you’ll be sorry. All right for you,” moans the duck as the happy Wurlitzer plays in the background.
(I don’t understand why Yakky is so pathological about playing head games. After all, he was flying south for the winter. Why doesn’t he just pick up after resting and carry on with his journey?)
The plot now takes a turn as a cat decides to have Yakky for a snack and Chopper feels the need to defend the defenseless duck. Hanna-Barbera cartoons reused old concepts (such as Yakky) all the time. The cat had appeared in other forms, but with the same intent, in other H-B shorts, such as Hum Sweet Hum with Augie Doggie and Humboldt the bird. After this cartoon, Maltese eventually turned him into Fibber Fox.
Lew Marshall is the animator in this cartoon. Here are the drawings as he flips the cat at a 180 degree angle and has him zip out of the scene to capture the duck. Marshall has a few good expressions here.
And there are some other old friends. The cat plants a phoney kiss on Yakky just like Sylvester used to do on Tweety when Granny gave him what-for. Yakky is rolled up in the cat’s tongue, which strikes me as being a Tweety thing, too. And Chopper uses a balloon with a hook attached to lift a latch and get into a locked house. I can’t remember what cartoon that’s from, but I know I’ve seen it somewhere.
Dick Thomas’ backgrounds are functional. Some are just coloured cards. I like the brown fence with the orange outlines.
I’ve always enjoyed Daws Butler’s Fibber Fox voice and though I’m not a fan of the Yakky character, Jimmy Weldon provides him with a fairly expressive delivery, far more so than Red Coffey, who did the MGM and early H-B pitiable ducks, let alone Clarence Nash at Disney, who is a chore to comprehend.