Saturday 22 August 2009

Huckleberry Hound — Sheriff Huckleberry

Produced and Directed by Bill Hanna and Joe Barbera.
Credits: Animation – Ken Muse; Layout – Dick Bickenbach; Backgrounds – Bob Gentle; Dialogue and Story Sketches – Charlie Shows and Dan Gordon; Titles – Art Goble; Production Supervision – Howard Hanson.
Cast: Huck, Dinky Dalton – Daws Butler; Narrator – Don Messick.
Production E-31, Huckleberry Hound Show K-005.
First aired: week of Monday, October 27, 1958 (repeat, week of April 25, 1959 and December 14, 1959.
Plot: Sheriff Huck tries to arrest (not so) Dinky Dalton.

It’s rare that an early Hanna-Barbera cartoon would feature a sight gag that hadn’t been done over and over again in different variations in theatrical cartoons, but this cartoon has one. And it’s pretty imaginative.

Huck gets tired of being shot by the bad guy, so he dresses up in a protective suit of armour. Quickly, the bad guy shoves an anvil under Huck, pounds him into the shape of a toy car, inserts a wind-up key and sends the car over a cliff.

It all happens fast and out of nowhere (the gag slows down only when Huck pops up to remark something to the camera) that it works pretty well.

The rest of the cartoon has gags ranging from OK to “When’s the gag going to start?”, though the story-line’s structured pretty well.

This cartoon was the first starring Huckleberry Hound to be put into production.

The opening’s typical—camera-work over, and into, one of Bob Gentle’s backgrounds to substitute for animation while Don Messick intones about this being a story of the battle between good and evil. After 20 seconds of no work for animator Ken Muse, Messick announces “This is the lawman” and Huck walks onto the scene, giving a rendition of Clementine (whistling and singing).

Huck happens upon a sign, and Muse gets a bit of a rest for three seconds as the camera cuts to a sign we can read for ourselves, but Huck reads for us. Then he pulls out a pulls out a photo of his quarry, the Dalton Gang. Muse takes it easy for another nine seconds as Huck reads the warrant (we can also see for ourselves) for the arrest of the last of the Daltons. Then Muse puts his feet up for another 16 seconds as the camera pans across the picture (supposedly black-and-white but with a bluish tint). I really like the character designs here; I want to think Ed Benedict had something to do with them.

Muse brings us the walk cycle again as Huck reads the Burma Shave-style signs that lead to the Dalton shack. Huck tells Dinky Dalton to open up and the bad guy (we never actually learn what illegal things he did) shoots out of knothole of the door. Apparently, that’s Charlie Show’s idea of humour.

Huck throws the door open and finds Dinky isn’t so Dinky any more. He’s in such shock, apparently it turned his teeth red (see the frame below right).

Dinky’s hand is so huge, all Huck can do is handcuff his little finger. Dalton swirls him around by the chain and tosses him out the door. Huck, unharmed despite a camera-shaking crash, walks back to the shack and is greeted by a fist.

Next gag. Huck puts his pistol in the knothole, but Dinky bends the barrel. Huck counts three, fires, and apparently bullets cutting a hat in half is supposed to be funny.

Huck’s walk cycle takes him to a convenient booth to call Dinky (remarking “This fellow has a right nice voice over the telephone) and we get some typical “through the phone” gags.

The hound tells him to hold the phone and utilises the walk cycle to reach the shack’s window to try to sneak in, and proving his claim (with the help of Dinky’s gun) “A feller what takes a deputy sheriff job must have a hole in his haid.”

After failing to use a log as a battering ram (Dinky lifts the shack out of the way and Huck runs into a rock), we get the armour-anvil-car sequence mentioned above, though there’s a camera error and the “car” disappears and reappears.

Our narrator returns, informing us “All good westerns must come to an end.” And that means the inevitable showdown at five paces. Shows gives us the cliché that Dinky has one bullet left “And it has your name on it.” Indeed, it does.

That’s all Huck needs to know. The bullet can read signs and reaches its destination after 11 seconds of flying around on screen, where stock explosion animation presumably brings the plot to an end.

“And once again the law is triumphant, thanks to that bold, brave, lawman, Huckleberry Hound.” The narrator bids farewell to Huck, Huck tells us he’ll be seeing us, and continues with his walk cycle, whistling Clementine as the camera fades.

None of the music is left to run at any length, except we get Bill Loose and John Seely’s western-sounding ‘TC 205 Light Movement’ looped after Huck walks into Dinky’s cabin. L-1158 is a series of short bassoon bits by Spencer Moore used as musical punctuation. Clementine, by the way, is not found on any of the Huck cue sheets I have seen.

0:00 - Huck sub main title theme/Clementine (Hanna-Barbara-Curtin-Shows)
0:26 - TC-204A WISTFUL COMEDY (Loose-Seely) – Narrator sets scene.
0:45 - CLEMENTINE (Trad.) – Huck strolls into scene.
0:52 - L-1158 ANIMATION COMEDY (Moore) – Huck looks up at sign.
1:00 - TC-204A WISTFUL COMEDY (Loose-Seely) – Huck looks at Dalton family photo.
1:40 - CLEMENTINE (Trad.) – Huck walks.
1:42 - TC-205 LIGHT MOVEMENT (Loose-Seely) – Huck meets Dinky, tossed out.
3:03 - TC-202 ECCENTRIC COMEDY (Loose-Seely) – Huck punched; shoots self.
3:33 - TC-303 ZANY COMEDY (Loose-Seely) – Huck says “He’s a smart outlaw.”
3:41 - L-1139 ANIMATION COMEDY (Moore) – Huck calls Dinky.
4:20 - TC-202 ECCENTRIC COMEDY (Loose-Seely) – Huck says “Hold the phone”; shot through the hat.
4:53 - L-1158 ANIMATION COMEDY (Moore) – Huck lifts hat.
4:57 - ZR-48 FAST MOVEMENT (Geordie Hormel) – Huck charges at shack with log.
5:11 - LAF-20-5 TOBOGGAN RUN (Jack Shaindlin) – Huck runs into rock.
5:17 - TC-205 LIGHT MOVEMENT (Loose-Seely) – Anvil/car bit.
5:40 - LAF-20-5 TOBOGGAN RUN (Shaindlin) – Car heads toward cliff.
5:54 - L-31 SOMBER MOVEMENT (Moore) – Showdown
6:48 - CLEMENTINE (Trad.) – Huck walks away.
7:10 - Huck sub end title (Hanna-Barbera-Curtin-Shows)

1 comment:

  1. Dinky Dalton re-appears in another short: "Lawman Huck." In the late '80s, Hanna-Barbera made "The Good, The Bad and The Huckleberry Hound" where Dinky appears to put on a lot of weight and have a different voice actor (I wonder why Daws Butler didn't voice him in the movie. Maybe he was getting older that he couldn't make his voice gruff and tough like he used to.) Oh, well. One of Dinky's brothers was very little in the movie. Maybe HE should have been called DINKY. That would have suit him better.