Saturday, 1 August 2009

Yogi Bear — Big Brave Bear

Produced and Directed by Bill Hanna and Joe Barbera.
Credits: Animation – Carlo Vinci; Layouts – Dick Bickenbach; Backgrounds – Fernando Montealegre; Dialogue and Story Sketches – Charlie Shows and Dan Gordon; Titles – Art Goble; Production Supervision – Howard Hanson.
Cast: Yogi, Mac – Daws Butler; radio voice, Jack, ranger – Don Messick.
Production E-11, Huckleberry Hound Show K-006.
First aired: November 3, 1958.
Plot: Bank robbers hide out in Yogi’s cave. Yogi inadvertently captures them with the help of the aptly-named geyser, Old Dependable.

Any early H-B fan who has seen this cartoon is going to look at the credits that are posted and say “Lew Marshall?!” Because this short has Carlo Vinci written all over it.

No place is it more obvious than in the stomping-run/flying exit cycle that Carlo used on a whole bunch of characters in the first season of The Huckleberry Hound Show. It’s found several times here; in fact, it looks like an animation-saving device because it’s used over again.

Here it is when Boo-Boo realises Yogi is being held captive by crooks (you can click on a picture to enlarge it).

Boo-Boo breaks the news to a ranger, who does the same thing.

Boo-Boo follows in a re-used bit of animation and later in the cartoon, the two of them do it together.

So either Vinci animated part of the cartoon, Marshall copied his style, or the credit is wrong and Marshall wasn’t involved. It’s hard to tell because in some places, the animation is almost non existent.

We open with a shot of the Jellystone Park entrance followed by a right pan over the peaceful strains of Geordie Hormel to Yogi and Boo-Boo lazing around. Yogi is bored. The animator must have been, too, as the characters are practically stationary, other than some mouth movements. Yogi complains “Nothin’ ever happens around here.”

But that changes quickly. The scene dissolves to a car with no doors on a foreground cell, while the moving background cell does all the work. It cuts to the car interior—uh, aren’t those two right hands in the picture?—where a police radio (in a regular car?) warns bank robbers are on the loose. The bank robbers are the ones listening. After more footage of the car on top of a moving background (though the wheels are in an animation cycle now), the crooks decide to hide out in Jellystone. Specifically in Yogi’s cave.

This is a clue that the cartoon is in the early days of Yogi’s career when each and every character trait hadn’t been codified and used repetitively. It’s not Yogi vs. Ranger Smith. It’s Yogi vs. bank robbers. Another clues is in the next scene when Jack the Crook chows down on a bowl of berries. Berries?! Why would Yogi eat those? You’ll notice the raised pinky, showing Jack is a robber of quality. Incidentally, the crooked fingers are a Vinci trademark.

Another clue is Yogi and Boo-Boo don’t live together. Boo-Boo bids farewell as the bored Yogi goes into his cave for a nap. Writer Charlie Shows pulls out a Three Bears reference when Yogi remarks that someone has been eating his goodies, someone has been sitting in his chair, and someone is sleeping in his bed (which is more makeshift than in most cartoons). He yells it loud enough for Mac to get out of it, but the crook’s gun does the talking. Shows then pulls out one of his little rhymes based on the word ‘bed’ as Mac growls “You’re going to get it. Right in the head. And you’ll be dead, Fred.”

In the next scene, Mac forces Yogi to pose for Jack’s tourist-type pictures and this gives Shows a chance to get in one of those ass-violence jokes he loved so much. This touching sequence is interrupted by the ranger with Ranger Smith’s voice but has a buzzcut (he appeared in The Buzzin’ Bruin, drawn by Vinci). The ranger warns Yogi to be on the lookout for bank robbers.

Boo-Boo then shows up in a nodding-head, loping walk, asks the robbers if Yogi can come out and play. The robbers tell him “no,” Boo-Boo lopes out of the cave, then realises what’s going on, in a two-cell, throbbing-eye take. That brings about the stomping-run cycles mentioned already.

The crooks decide to make their escape by getting in the car and forcing Yogi at gunpoint to drive. Ranger Buzzcut calls the police who set up a roadblock, represented by a background cell where four seconds of a camera moving in and out substitutes for animation. During this time, we get the old ‘responding radio’ gag. The radio dispatcher says “Shoot to kill!” Yogi asks, “Me, too?” and radio responds, “Yes. You, too.”

Mac orders Yogi to turn around the car. But that uses up unnecessary animation. So the bear simply puts the car in reverse, and the background now slides left to right behind the car on a foreground cell. But he backs onto the top of Old Dependable Geyser, which fortunately erupts, sending the car into the sky. Yogi bails and the robbers, not wishing to do the follow the obvious lead and thus screw up the plot, are captured.

The final scene jumps to Yogi reading the newspaper headlines about how he captured the bandits. Mischievous Boo-Boo busts a paper-bag balloon, which scares the “hero” Yogi to the top of a Douglas fir. Yogi ends the cartoon by borrowing a line from Joe Penner: “Don’t ever doooo that!” which is apparently the best dialogue Shows could come up with as the strings of Geordie Hormel’s pick-up orchestra quietly fade out for a cute but not exactly a socko ending.

Hormel’s music takes up the beginning and end of the cartoon, but we get to hear one of Jack Shaindlin’s atypical pieces from the 1950s and a couple of cuts by Bill Loose and John Seely. There are a few places where there’s no music.

0:00 - Yogi sub title main theme (Hanna-Barbera-Curtin).
0:26 - ZR-51 LIGHT ANIMATION (Hormel) – Yogi is bored, shot of robbers’ car.
0:58 - ZR-49 LIGHT EERIE (Hormel) – Robbers listen to radio, hide-out in Yogi’s cave.
2:37 - TC-300 ZANY COMEDY (Loose-Seely) – Yogi goes into cave, poses for camera.
4:08 - F-? PIXIE PRANKS (Shaindlin) – Ranger calls for Yogi, Boo-Boo gets ranger.
5:18 - TC-217A CHASE MEDIUM (Loose-Seely) – Yogi and crooks drive out, drive onto geyser.
6:44 - ZR-48 FAST MOVEMENT (Hormel) – Car stuck up on waterspout, Yogi reads paper, scared by Boo-Boo.
7:10 - Yogi sub title end theme (Curtin).


  1. Monte did a good job in this one, putting enough texture and style in the backgrounds to belie the film's budget. I especially like his mountains ... and there's a nice little touch with a rock overhang behind the roadblock.

  2. I See No Lew Marshall in this cartoon, and the credits for the current version are incorrect,as they are probably taken from slumber party smarty. also this short isn't the only yogi bear short in which it's current (DVD) version is missing credits, stout trout (Carlo Vinci),yogi's pest guest (Don Williams) and ice box raider (hicks lokey?,i know the original credits are missing for that short because the opening titles are supposed to have an updated hanna barbera logo on the titles. ) both have current versions that are missing their original credits.

  3. I have a strange affection for this cartoon, as it was the first of four featured in a Colpix 33RPM soundtrack. The others were BRAINY BEAR, ROBIN HOOD YOGI, and BUZZIN' BEAR.

    Apparently many early H-B cartoons were showcased this way, with all of the dialogue and most of the SFX intact and some added narration when necessary ("Watch out, Yogi- you're headed for a tree!"). The narrator is an unknown quantity, sounding nothing like any voice normally used in the cartoons.

    There was some editing or rearranging of SFX to make gags work better on record. In the original cartoon, a stock THUD! is heard, followed by the tall robber seated on the floor next to the broken chair: "What kind of furniture is this? Early nothing?" In the record, the dialogue comes before the THUD!

    In the recorded BUZZIN' BEAR, the "Just call me Shorty" line is deleted- just two THUDs after the ranger collides with the tree- which the narrator warns us is about to happen.

    Well into my teens, I would play the record on our old four-speed player and laugh myself sick at the distortion of the SFX.

  4. I haven't heard it, Howard, so I couldn't tell you who did the narration. I'm sure someone out there has a copy; I've got some Colpix audio files but not that one.

  5. Why do carlo vinci animated the whole cartoon
    and not lew marshall?

  6. Anon, I don't know why the credits are wrong in this. So I've posted what the credits say and made some comments about it in the post.

  7. In one moment in this cartoon when Boo-Boo says "I like it" (he's talking about Jellystone) his voice completely changes. His voice sounds like Pixie from the Pixie, Dixie and Mr. Jinks cartoons. In another cartoon with a similar voice change was "Cock-a-Doodle Huck." Daws Butler voices a fox in that cartoon. When the fox first speaks, he sounded like Fibber Fox. A couple seconds later, he sounds like Hokey Wolf.