Saturday, 15 May 2010

Yogi Bear — Lullabye-Bye Bear

Produced and Directed by Bill Hanna and Joe Barbera.
Credits: Animation – George Nicholas; Story – Mike Maltese; Story Sketches - Dan Gordon; Layout – Dick Bickenbach; Backgrounds – Joe Montell; Titles – Art Goble; Production Supervision – Howard Hanson.
Voice Cast: Yogi, Theodore Bear, Boy Tourist – Daws Butler; Sammy Bear, Ranger Smith, Boo Boo, Woman Tourist – Don Messick.
First Aired: week of September 21, 1959 (rerun, week of May 16, 1960).
Plot: Yogi tries to stay awake all winter.

Late note: Since this review, full credits have surfaced. Mike Maltese wrote this, not Warren Foster. It appears Maltese wrote the first two cartoons for the Huck show’s second season before Foster arrived from John Sutherland Productions.

Two people make their Hanna-Barbera debut in this cartoon and it’s a shame the two of them didn’t work as well together in later cartoons.

This is the first Yogi Bear cartoon to be drawn by George Nicholas after his arrival from Disney. And it is also the first cartoon with Ranger Smith. Before this, there were a variety of rangers with different appearances, voices and even names, but this is the first one where the look, sound and name of the character were put together. And Nicholas does something with him I wish he’d done more often.

Here’s a surprise take by Smith toward the end of the cartoon. Whenever I see this, I wonder what would have happened if Tex Avery had been producing these cartoons instead of the relatively tame Hanna and Barbera. Joe and Bill weren’t exactly known for their exaggerated takes—they still had a lot of Rudy Ising in them—while Avery could get over-the-top expressions out of a less-than-MGM-budget crew over at Walter Lantz. La Verne Harding once said he’d tell her to take a reaction drawing and double it.

There’s really no reason that same philosophy couldn’t have been used at Hanna-Barbera. You judiciously make one drawing in a take really wilder than normal, like Nicholas did above. Unfortunately, he didn’t do much of it again, though he came up with some good expressions in various H-B shows into the 1960s and is certainly the star of this cartoon.

Nicholas also developed a little loping walk cycle that he later used in Hoodwinked Bear. It’s right at the start of the cartoon and is used five times in the first three minutes (not including a sixth time when Yogi’s upper body is seen through the ranger station window). It’s on eight drawings on twos. You’ll notice Nicholas doesn’t move the left leg the same as the right.

I really like how the trees are together in the background. Monte did the same thing in ‘Foxy Hound Dog’ (starring Yowp) and it’s kind of what Chuck Jones tried, though more geometrically, in ‘Tom Turk and Daffy’ (1944).

Yogi goes calling on the homes of his bear friends. They tell him it’s winter and to get lost. The first bear’s head appears and there are several drawings of transparent heads swooshing into place. The second bear lives in a tree for reasons known only to Warren Foster.

The third bear is Boo Boo, who has moved up in the world since the first season’s cartoons and now has his own home. Evidently he was too poor to keep up the rent and moved back in with Yogi as he can’t even afford a blanket in this cartoon. But he can afford a two-toned back wall to frame Yogi in the shot. Yogi wakes him by popping a paper bag. He evidently saw Rosalind Russell in Auntie Mame (1958) because he quotes her line that “We’re going to live, live, live!” (skipping the next sentence about life being a banquet). Boo Boo politely but firmly tells Yogi he’s going to hibernate. Instead of having him walk out of Boo Boo’s cave, he ducks under the small opening and leaves. Yogi also has crooked fingers here and throughout the cartoon to add a bit more to the animation.

So Yogi decides to live it up himself. And that brings us to the debut of Ranger Smith, sounding blasé as he gives a weather report to someone on the phone. Perhaps Mike Maltese is commenting on the uneventful and dull world of the federal bureaucrat. Yogi lope-walks past the ranger’s rear window. Smith already knows this means trouble. He stops Yogi but, evidently new on the job and not familiar with all the bears, simply says “Hey, there, you!” When Smith suggests he hibernate, Yogi gets a stunned, small-pupilled, blinking expression and explains he’s studied the park rules “and there is nothing covering a non-conformist bear.” He carries on with his lope-walk and tells the ranger he intends having a ball. Then Nicholas gives him a crazy head-tilt expression.

First, Yogi decides to go skating. But he falls asleep. And falls through a hole in the ice. Here are four of Yogi’s expressions as the bear yells for help. Nicholas uses a sixth drawing cycle, and then slides the sixth down to simulate Yogi going under. The sound-cutter appropriately has ‘The Sailor’s Hornpipe’ playing in the background.

“It’s a shame to chop him out of there,” says Ranger Smith with the odd nose. Yogi warms up by a fire in the ranger’s cabin but refuses to admit his plunge through the ice was accidental. “I always take a brisk dip this time of year,” remarks the shivering bear, as he lets out with another crazy laugh.

So now, Yogi decides to go skiing. And it appears he’s not acquainted with Ranger Smith, either, because he calls him “that ranger” as opposed to “the ranger” in later cartoons. Of course, Yogi falls asleep and slides down the hill, with the sound-cutter using an airplane motor sound effect to emphasize the speed picking up. Then the shot cuts to Ranger Smith in a banal conversation on the phone. He looks out the window a couple of times and then we get the take that we showed you above. The Ranger realises he’s coming toward the cabin, so he does the old open-the-front-and-back-doors trick and Yogi sails through both doors. That works until the bear goes up another hill and the force of gravity sends him back to whence he came. Ranger Smith frantically decides to hammer shut the back door. All that does is stop the bear outside the back door with a bang but the force collapses the four walls of the cabin. The elk head on the wall is a nice touch.

Ranger Smith, looking a little pudgy, takes Yogi back to his cabin. Yogi gives his opinion of the development.

With Yogi confined to his cave, we get a few sight gags as he endeavours to stay up all winter. He tries clothespins on his eyes. They don’t stay on. He decides, like every other sleepy cartoon character from Sniffles onward, to drink coffee to stay awake. However, it’s winter and Yogi doesn’t have heat in his cave. “What a time for ice coffee,” he laments.

Alarm clock earmuffs and a contraption where an alarm clock springs a mousetrap which lights a match that gives him a hot foot are the other gags. And they work. Spring has arrived and Yogi is awake. Boo Boo comes calling for him, Yogi announces his success and immediately passes out. At that convenient moment, tourists ogle the pair of bruins and Boo Boo puts his buddy, emitting a weary sound, to smile for the cameras as the iris closes. There’s a great splooshing sound as Boo Boo hoists Yogi’s eyelids. Notice the flowers that look like plus signs? Joe Montell liked drawing those. There are plants in other scenes with a dot on the top, another Montell trait. So my guess is Montell drew handled the backgrounds.

The familiar Bill Loose-John Seely music is here. Jack Shaindlin’s ‘On the Run’ gets uses during the ski-cabin scene.

0:00 - Yogi Bear sub main title theme (Hoyt Curtin).
0:14 - TC-202 ECCENTRIC COMEDY (Loose-Seely) – Yogi walks to Sammy Bear’s cave and knocks.
0:20 - TC-303 ZANY COMEDY(Loose-Seely) – Yogi talks to Sammy and walks away.
0:30 - TC-202 ECCENTRIC COMEDY (Loose-Seely) – Yogi walks to Theodore’s tree, Boo Boo sleeping.
1:08 - TC-432 HOLLY DAY (Loose-Seely) – Yogi pulls out paper bag, Yogi leaves Boo Boo’s cave.
1:42 - L-81 COMEDY UNDERSCORE (Spencer Moore) – Ranger Smith in office; talks to Yogi, “There goes my winter.”
2:49 - LAF-21-3 RECESS (Shaindlin) – Yogi goes skating, falls through ice hole.
3:16 - SAILOR’S HORNPIPE (Trad.) – Yogi yells for help, Ranger on phone.
3:28 - LAF-10-7 GROTESQUE No 2 (Shaindlin) – Ranger chisels Yogi out of ice block, Yogi by fire in Lodge.
3:54 - ZR-50 UNDERWATER SCENIC (Geordie Hormel) – Yogi on skis, Ranger on phone realises it’s Yogi.
4:33 - LAF-2-12 ON THE RUN (Shaindlin) – Yogi going down hill, Ranger opens cabin doors, cabin collapses.
5:04 - L-78 COMEDY UNDERSCORE (Moore) – Ranger takes Yogi by ear to cave, Yogi sticks out tongue.
5:24 - TC-204A WISTFUL COMEDY (Loose-Seely) – Yogi looks out window, clothespins, coffee, alarm clock earmuffs, hotfoot.
6:19 - LAF-21-3 RECESS (Shaindlin) – Ranger on phone, Boo Boo poses Yogi for cameras.
6:58 - Yogi Bear sub end title theme (Curtin).


  1. For the record, Earl Klein was doing Chuck Jones' layout work in 1944.

  2. Hi, Zart. Klein arrived in early 1944, according to Mike Barrier, but was this cartoon made before he arrived, considering the difference between completion and release dates?

    Barrier says John McGrew left in Sept. 1942 but his work was still seen on screen in 1943. It's quite possible whoever Klein replaced would have been responsible for 'Tom Turk and Daffy.' There's obviously a gap. (I've wondered if Klein and Bob Gribbroek arrived together).

    Graham Webb's book credits "sets" in the cartoon to Art Heinemann, but Barrier says he was at Lantz from June 1943 to Sept. 1944.

  3. Great, funny observations about this cartoon, Yowp!

    By the way, this cartoon is one of the TV episodes featured in the big Huckleberry Hound Giant Story Book put out by Whitman in 1961. I went back and re-read the book version and of course, they made a few adjustments, such as having Yogi refer to the ranger as Mr. Ranger and the ranger refer to Yogi by his first name. The illustrator of the book, Frank McSavage even gave poor Boo Boo a blanket and a comfortable pillow!

    Strangely, the other bears' names are dropped in the book, as well as the total destruction of the ranger's cabin.

  4. Ironically, what lead me to watching this short was when I watched a "remake" on the Cartoon Network website - back when Web Premier Toons was all the range then. The remake, I believe, was done by in "felt-o-vision", and animated by one Sean Dickens.

    History lesson aside, the "remake" doesn't really compare to the original here. George's animation is so goofy and fun, and I'll always get a kick out of that final shot with Yogi and Boo-Boo =)

  5. Great final drawing; it's now the background screen on my computer.

  6. This was actually one of the first " Yogi Bear " cartoons I saw as a child. " Ranger Smith's " conversation on the phone with another ranger talking about a recent date with some poor woman is hilarious! " And I says to her that if you count the rings, you can tell how old the tree is. And she says..So What?". To this day I still laugh out loud at that line. Shows a little bit about the Ranger's dating life.-Ha!!Yowp..Banal is right.

  7. This Yogi Bear episode brings the layout made by Dick "Bick" Bickenbach.

  8. That cue under the David Rose-ghost written John Seely-William Loose cue "TC-204A WISTFUL COMEDY" is the old Rube Goldberg device. Speaking of which, sometimes when [all these times] I'm on the Simpsons ride at Universal Hollywood [yesterday was an example] when Dan Castelletta as Homer yells in the quasi-Pirate ride, "I hate chain reactions", I'll yell back "to Homer", "Rube Goldberg Loved them" [that's right, right next to other riders, though some might say the same thing but anyway under THAT ride's cannon fire, who can hear a Rube Goldberg comment coming from the peany gallery anyway?:)]

  9. I love George Nicolas' animation

  10. When Yogi gave himself a hot foot and yelled "Yow," he sounds like Snooper from the "Snooper and Blabber" shorts. Mr. Ranger's debut. The only time where he has a different color uniform instead of green.