Saturday 31 July 2010

Yogi Bear — Snow White Bear

Produced and Directed by Joe Barbera and Bill Hanna.
Credits: Animation – George Nicholas; Layout – Dick Bickenbach; Backgrounds – Bob Gentle; Story – Warren Foster; Story Director – Alex Lovy; Titles – Art Goble; Production Supervision – Howard Hanson.
Voice Cast: Yogi, Stupid, Lazy, Itchy – Daws Butler; Narrator, Boo Boo, Nutty, Sloppy, Crazy, Prince – Don Messick; Snow White, Gooney, Queen – Jean Vander Pyl.
Episode: Huckleberry Hound Show K-038, Production E-100.
First Aired: week of February 15, 1960.
Plot: Yogi’s hibernation is interrupted by seven dwarves and Snow White.

You’d swear making fun of fairy tales was written into the contracts of the writers and directors at Warner Bros. cartoons since it was done so often and successfully. So it was that when Warner’s writers Mike Maltese and Warren Foster migrated to Hanna-Barbera, they took the successful formula with them.

I hesitate to add to the over-use of the term “cartoon trilogy,” so let me just say that Foster wrote three cartoons where Yogi Bear and Boo Boo had their lives intruded upon by a fairy tale in progress. Two were in the second season of The Huckleberry Hound Show, the third was in the third season and later on Yogi’s own show. For some odd reason, Foster didn’t pick Goldilocks as a target. Instead we got Little Red Riding Hood (Hoodwinked Bear) and the Three Little Pigs (Oinks and Boinks), both with the Phil Silvers wolf that Daws Butler had great fun with. The subject of this cartoon is pretty obvious by its title.

Two were animated by George Nicholas and this is probably the lesser of the two. He stopped using the big mouth movements on Yogi that were so much fun in some of his other cartoons, instead drawing the bear talking in a horseshoe shape out of the side of his mouth. Maybe it was quicker to animate him that way. There are few goofy expressions like you see in Lullabye-Bye Bear. However, Nicholas’ clump of skipping dwarves is a lot of fun. Coincidentally, Nicholas came to Hanna-Barbera from Disney.

The cartoon starts with a friendly narrator informing us, as the shot lingers across Jellystone Park, that tourist season is over. The scene fades to Yogi and Boo Boo doing the little leap-walk of Nicholas, except in this cartoon, Yogi’s hat is bouncing off and on his head. Our hero, naturally, has to fit in his catchphrase “we did better than the av-er-age bears,” adding “I can hardly wait to hi-ber-nate.” So they go into their cave, but their goal is interrupted by the sound of banging at their door.

Boo Boo: Who’s that Yogi?
Yogi: It’s not opportunity. Opportunity knocks only once.

It turns out not to be someone selling “Girl Scout cookies, raffle tickets, light bulbs,” none of which Yogi wants, as he explains to the girl at the door. It’s Snow White, who even bats her eyes for Yogi in a nice subtle bit of animation. Yogi thinks it’s a “tourist kid” playing a joke when she explains she’s looking for the Seven Dwarfs because they’re not at their home. Snow asks Yogi to tell the dwarves that she’s at their place and off she goes. By the way, notice in the frame grab how Yogi, Snow and the tree in the background are at an angle, but not the same one.

Sure enough, Yogi’s sleep is again interrupted by knocking on the door. We can guess who it is before the bear answers it. But since it’s 1960 and sci-fi is still big, he decides they’re “little men from outer space.” (Actually, Yogi’s Space Bear aired on the following week’s show). Warren Foster takes a swipe at Disney giving names to the little men by coming up with his own—Stupid, Nutty, Gooney, Sloppy, Lazy, Crazy and Itchy—with Nicholas coming up with appropriate cycle animation on some of them to prove their point.

He tells them to hit the road back to their place where they’ll find Snow White. Nicholas now comes up with a fast bouncing walk cycle for the dwarves, treating them as one lumpy character, with legs and hats all over. The chant a rhyme—“Ho! Ho! Ho, ho, ho! It’s off to Snow White’s house we go!” They’re landing on the ground in four drawings on twos, but to make the animation less monotonous, Nicholas puts in two extra drawings on twos before they land at the end.

No, Yogi still can’t sleep. “This sounds like a convention of woodpeckers,” he grouses as he is awoken again by the knocking Snow White, wondering if the dwarves showed up. “Grouchy old bear,” she says, after Yogi slams the door in her face (Nicholas has the bear purse his lips as he mimics her). The dwarves hop back into the scene as Snow disappears to head to her own home. Yogi has them wait in his cave while he goes to fetch Snow White and, eventually, sleep.

There’s a little scene which Foster throws in just because it’s silly, not because it advances the plot. The dwarves are in bed with Boo Boo.

Stupid: Of course we’re the Seven Dwarfs. Count us.
Boo Boo: One, two, three, four, five, six, seven, eight. Gosh! That’s right.

Boo Boo counts himself. By the way, could those dwarves look any more like characters in a Hanna-Barbera cartoon?

Yogi arrives at Snow White’s house. Now, let’s look at Nicholas’ approach to limited animation. When Yogi opens the front door, he peers down to see who is inside, then smiles. Sure, Nicholas is only moving the head, and it’s certainly not outrageously well-crafted animated. It’s the fact he does it at all for a subtle effect. He could have simply had the door fly open and left it at that. Just about anyone would have. He’s trying to get as much as he can out of TV-style animation throughout the whole cartoon. I’ve slowed this down a bit so you can see it. It was originally animated on twos.

“I never saw such a moving around gang like this,” Yogi gripes. Then the door knocks again. Yogi does another head shake take, in four drawings on twos. Nicholas has a couple of drawings to get into it, as the bear bends over and moves his butt up slightly. This one has been slowed down a little more.

Then Yogi straightens up in a couple of drawings and the camera moves into a medium shot. Here’s more of Foster’s dialogue.

Yogi: Aw, no. Even here it starts. (sound of door opening, Yogi looks toward door): Who are you?
Queen: I’m the queen around here, you dusty old bear.
Yogi: Oh, boy. The deeper you get in the woods, uh, the more nuts you find.
Queen: None of your lip. I’m looking for Snow White.
Yogi: That figures. The kid is reeeeal popular today.
Queen: Give her this apple when you see her. I’m got to get back and ask the magic mirror on the wall if I’m the fairest one of all. Toodle-loo.
(Queen races away and the door slams shut in her wake).

Yogi decides to eat the “one measly apple. She’ll never miss it.” Here are Nicholas trademarks—the snaky mouth-line and the curly tongue inside the wide mouth.

So Yogi flies onto the bed and passes out. That signals the arrival of... well, you know the story. Look. His right hand has four fingers and a thumb.

Prince: Ah, the Seven Dwarfs’ house! Now, let’s see. Snow White has eaten the poisoned apple and is asleep. Prince Charming—me—enters and kisses her. Yup, that’s it. I got to give her a smooch to wake her up. (leaps into doorway) I am here, Snow White! Your Prince Charming has arr-oh, boy! What an off-beat Snow White. Ewugh! Well, I gotta go through with it. Eeekh!

So the Prince kisses Yogi, the bear awakens, and the guy in “the Hallowe’en outfit” explains who he is. Yogi now starts counting on his fingers (three and a thumb) as he adds up the characters and “remembers the story. We could get a happy ending out of this mess yet.” The Prince appears to be a not-so-distant relative of George Jetson.

Cut to Yogi with the prince and Snow-What’s-Your-Name. And he tells them to live happily ever after. “Some place. Any place! Just make it far away. My achin’ back wants me to hit the sack.”

Yogi walks into his cave. We get another head shake take as he sees the dwarves asleep in his bed. He kicks them out of the cave with a Bilko-style military yell.

Stupid: What a grouchy old bear.
Nutty: They’re always grouchy this time of year.

The annoyed Yogi finally goes back to bed and the bears snore as the camera fades out.

Foster’s script is interesting in that Yogi is peeved throughout almost all the cartoon. He’s not the happy, hungry, Ranger-battling bear which became his formula. He’s a little more upbeat the following season in Oinks and Boinks when the three little pigs put upon him.

Ranger Smith is absent in this cartoon and no mention is made of him.

The background music is pretty familiar, except for the opening music as we see the gate to Jellystone Park and a scan of the forest. It comes from the Capitol Hi-Q ‘M’ series (M-8). I don’t believe this one was used in any other cartoons. Bill Loose wrote a bunch sounding somewhat similar to it; some were labelled ‘Documentary.’ This particular piece was an odd choice, considering the next cue, Loose and John Seely’s ‘Shining Day,’ was used to open a number of Yogi cartoons and would have been effective here. Perhaps the sound cutter was going for a mood change. The cutter also decided to edit together Loose and Seely’s ‘Zany Comedy’ to lengthen it.

0:00 - Yogi Bear sub-main title theme (Hoyt Curtin).
0:14 - C-71 ROMANTIC MAIN TITLE (Loose) – Pan across Jellystone Park.
0:25 - TC-436 SHINING DAY (Loose-Seely) – Yogi and Boo walk into cave, knock at door.
1:01 - L-80 COMEDY UNDERSCORE (Spencer Moore) – “Opportunity” line, Yogi walks to door.
1:11 - C-3 DOMESTIC CHILDREN (Loose-Seely) – Yogi and Snow White talk.
1:52 - 8-MR-377 creepy reverb trumpet music (Raoul Kraushaar) – Yogi wakes up, tells dwarves to get into space ship.
2:19 - TC-303 ZANY COMEDY (Loose-Seely) – Dwarves introduce themselves; bounce off to Snow White’s home, Yogi walks toward bed.
2:52 - TC-303 ZANY COMEDY (Loose-Seely) – “I must be having a night-time-mare”, answers door again.
3:13 - C-3 DOMESTIC CHILDREN (Loose-Seely) – Yogi and Snow White talk, dwarves arrive at Yogi’s.
3:42 - LAF-4-1 FISHY STORY (Jack Shaindlin) – “Can’t you stay put?”, Boo Boo counts dwarves, Yogi goes into Snow White’s home, Queen and Yogi talk.
4:55 - 7-MR-183 creepy reverb trumpet music (Kraushaar) – Yogi eats apple.
5:16 - LAF-27-6 UNTITLED TUNE (Shaindlin) – Prince and Yogi, Yogi walks into cave.
6:22 - LAF-7-12 FUN ON ICE (Shaindlin) – Yogi in cave, kicks out dwarves, Yogi and Boo Boo sleep.
6:58 - Yogi Bear sub-end title theme (Curtin).


  1. Peeved sleep-deprived Yogi kind of goes back to Charles Shows' "Slumber Party Smarty" (which would have been a lot shorter, albeit it a far more satisfying cartoon, if Yogi had just double-time marched the duck out of the cave in the first place, the way he did with the dwarfs here...).

  2. The scene that still puts me on the floor to this day is the " counting scene " with Boo Boo. After fifty years..Funny is Funny. You're right, when Yogi marches the Dwarfs out " Double time ", Definitely some " Bilko " in the cadence.( Hey-ho-ho-Hey.hey.hey!!).

  3. Probably the funniest dialogue in a Yogi cartoon, brimming over with hilarious one-liners. Seven Dwarf parodies were nothing new by 1959, but the dwarves are very funny here- especially with Yogi's one-word assessments of each one as they introduce themselves.

    An added bonus is how, each time Yogi is awakened, he does a triple-take accompanied by the standard H-B 'wooden block' SFX.

  4. Snow White looks almost like Aurora from Disney's Sleeping Beauty