Saturday, 6 June 2009

Huckleberry Hound — Hookey Daze

Produced and Directed by Bill Hanna and Joe Barbera.
Credits: Animation – Carlo Vinci; Layout – Bick Bickenbach; Backgrounds – Sam Clayberger; Dialogue and Story Sketches – Charlie Shows and Dan Gordon; Titles – Art Goble; Production Supervision – Howard Hanson.
Cast: Huck, Mickey – Daws Butler; Icky, Teacher – Don Messick.
First aired: week of Monday, December 29, 1958.
Production E-36, Show K-014.
Plot: Truant Ossifer Huckleberry sets out to bring two brats back to school. He finally succeeds—but is forced to go to school as well.

Do such things as truant officers still exist? The only place I’ve ever seen them is in cartoons and old movies. Nevertheless, that’s Huck’s occupation du jour in this typical, but fairly pleasant, cartoon, enlivened by probably my favourite Carlo Vinci take you see to your right. The bratty kids have tied him to the tracks. He hears the train a comin’. He thinks it’s a toy. It’s not. Carlo puts Huck in a bit of a scrunch, with his eyes closed, then expands him as he does one of those ‘scare takes’, where two frames are alternated for a few seconds. The director even pulled the camera back so we’d get the full effect of the take. It’s a shame the finish to the gag isn’t better. In a Warners cartoon, a huge train (or streetcar, like in The Trial of Mr. Wolf) would fill the frame with an instant BAM! The train in this one is too small, takes too long (about four seconds) to reach Huck, and has a wimpy, hissy sound.

But there’s lots here that’s familiar for Huck fans. He gets the crap beat out of him, cheerfully appreciates the gags being pulled on him, accomplishes his goal, but there’s a plot twist so he partly loses in the end.

We open with a phone call to Huck in his office from a teacher who wants him to get the Vanderblip twins back in school. So, Huck saunters to their mansion in a little sloping-posture walk cycle that Vinci even used on Jinks in a Pixie and Dixie cartoon.

After Huck reads a card which the audience can read for itself (we learn the kids have been absent from school five times this week and “it’s only Tuesday”), he rings the bell. And on a variation of the old water-in-the-carnation joke, Huck gets sprayed in the face.

Now comes the battle of wits. Huck anticipates a pail of water has been put over the front door. He throws open the door and the pail comes down. But he didn’t anticipate something else in a delayed reaction.

Huck finally meets up with Mickey and thinks he’s playing “injun” with him. So he tells Mickey to shoot him with the teeny bow and suction arrow. Icky comes out of hiding and fires a larger one at him, sticking him to the wall. Mickey then does that little sideways stomp running cycle that Vinci used in the first season cartoons.

The next little scene is cute. The kids run away like hell, but Huck just lopes after them through three sets of doors. The last one opens out onto the outside and Huck takes a fall (apparently, the ground level somehow grew several storeys while the cartoon was in progress). He drops head-first toward the swimming pool but Icky pulls the plug and drains it of water. Huck points out it was lucky for him the pool was empty since he might have drowned. He’s sucked down the drain but pops his head up to inform us it was a good gag.

Next, Mickey gives him a cigar. Huck anticipates it’s an exploding one. He pulls out a firecracker and now decides the cigar is safe. But he doesn’t anticipate the match is a fuse (apparently, fuses in cartoons can explode). A baseball routine is next, with Carlo drawing multiples of Huck (like he did with Huck nailing the cabin door in Skeeter Trouble) pitching, and finally getting whacked with the ball when Mickey tells him to move closer. Again, Carlo pulls out another animation trick, with a two-drawing shake take upon impact with the ball.

The choo-choo bit mentioned before follows, with Charlie Shows getting away with Huck saying “You know, I think I’m on the right track now.” The train didn’t hurt a bit but the expected sight gag afterward might. Huck walks out the door, informing us all that he knows when he’s licked. Ah, but he’s just being “right cagey with some kids,” as Icky and Mickey soon learn.

But in the wind-up gag, it’s Huck’s turn to do some learning. He informs the teacher he never to school. So he ends up in class, bollixing some simple arithmetic as the iris closes.

I imagine the cartoon’s title is a play on the old “School Days” song of the vaudeville era.

The sound cutter finally learned not to leave the stock music beds running in the background when Huck is humming Clementine, which happens twice in the cartoon. There are a couple of spots where there’s no music at all.

0:00 - Huck/Clementine sub title theme (Hanna-Barbera-Shows-Curtin)
0:26 - no music/CLEMENTINE (Trad.) - Huck gets call to go to Vanderblip home.
1:05 - TC 300 ECCENTRIC COMEDY (Loose-Seely) - Huck rings bell, gets face full of water; hit with anvil.
1:42-2:00 - no music/CLEMENTINE (Trad.) - Huck walks into home.
2:00 - TC 300 ECCENTRIC COMEDY (Loose-Seely) - Kid fires plunger in Huck's face.
2:31 - F-20 TOBOGGAN RUN (Shaindlin) - Huck lopes after kids, falls out door.
3:08 - L-81 COMEDY UNDERSCORE (Moore) - Huck lands in empty pool.
3:12-3:28 (no music) - Huck sucked down drain.
3:28 - TC 202 ECCENTRIC COMEDY (Loose-Seely) - Match explodes in Huck's face.
4:41 - TC 201 PIXIE COMEDY (Loose-Seely) - Huck hit with baseball bat; tied to train tracks.
6:07 - L-78 COMEDY UNDERSCORE (Moore) - Huck captures kids in cage; forced to go to class as well.
7:10 - Huck sub title closing theme (Hanna-Barbera-Shows-Curtin).

1 comment:

  1. That "Jinks" cartoon with the sloping you've mentioned, Yowp, is "Jiggers it's Jinks"