Saturday, 30 October 2010

Augie Doggie — Cat Happy Pappy

Produced and Directed by Bill Hanna and Joe Barbera.
Credits: Animation – Manny Perez; Layout – Dick Bickenbach; Backgrounds – Bob Gentle; Story – Mike Maltese; Story Sketches – Dan Gordon, Titles – Art Goble; Production Supervision – Howard Hanson.
Voice Cast: Doggie Daddy, Deliverman 1 – Doug Young; Augie, Kitten, Deliveryman 2, Wildcat – Daws Butler.
Episode: Quick Draw McGraw Show M-015, Production J-47.
First aired
: 1959.
Plot: Doggie Daddy mistakes a wildcat for a wayward kitten that Augie adopts.

Every once in a while, there’s a surprise when the credits of one of the early Hanna-Barbera shorts flash onto the screen. Virgil Ross’ name pops up as the animator of the Augie Doggie cartoon Let’s Duck Out (1961), even though his name continues to appear on Warner Bros. cartoons. And another animator known for his time at Warners also worked on at least a couple of cartoons for Joe and Bill.

Manny Perez spent more than 40 years in animation and, like most veterans who worked for years, went from the glory days of theatricals to something less sublime for television before finally retiring. Perez, for example, toiled on something in 1979 for Ruby-Spears called ‘Plastic Man’, a far cry from Bugs, Daffy and Sylvester. He arrived at Warners by 1938. He ended up in the Freleng unit after Friz returned from MGM and his name began to appear in the credits as an animator at the time Herman Cohen’s disappeared. His first credited cartoon is Porky’s Bare Facts (1941).

Manny spent a fair chunk of his career working under, or for, Friz; he animated on the Pink Panther shorts at DePatie-Freleng in the ‘60s and into the ‘70s. That’s despite the fact the two don’t seem to have gotten along. Animator Greg Duffell revealed in a series of posts on alt.animation.warner-bros in 1999:

There's also confusion about Manny Perez’ status. Virgil Ross told me that Perez was “Friz’s whipping boy”. If credits tell any story, Friz dumped Manny to take on Art Davis only to take Perez back when Chiniquy left. It’s acknowledged that Gerry Chiniquy was favoured highly by Friz above the other animators in his unit.

Why was this?

It’s well known that Friz was quite cantankerous. Virgil felt that Friz belittled Manny, then when Manny left Virgil felt that HE became the target of Friz’ wrath. The way Virgil told it, it was that everyone’s work was compared to Chiniquy’s, with Gerry’s work always deemed to be more appropriate and better than everyone else’s.
I met Manny Perez in 1975 at San Rio Productions during the production of a feature film (I've forgotten the title now) that was like a rock music Fantasia.
I was quite thrilled, of course, to meet Mr. Perez (didn’t know he’d be there) and started to ask him questions about his work. At that time, I wasn't clear which animator did what, though I could see the various styles while watching the cartoons. Manny was very elusive about identifying any of his work for me. At the mention of Friz’ name (Manny is credited on cartoons in the late ‘30's to the middle ‘70’s related to Friz) he said these words, with a tense smile, that I’ll never forget:
“You know, I worked so long for him....well...I got to HATE that little guy...”

In fact, Perez briefly ended up in Bob McKimson’s unit. Greg continues:

I remember Manny’s name on “Pop ‘IM Pop” and “Dog Collared” if memory serves me correctly. I don't know where Manny went...if he went anywhere. I learned from talking with Bob Givens that some top people could be at the studio and not get any screen credit. It’s also possible that Manny might have been demoted for a time during all the confusion that went on in the late ‘40’s.

Manny’s final Warners credit was in Lumber Jerks (released in 1955) by which time ex-Disneyite Ted Bonnicksen was being listed as an animator (Virgil Ross’ name disappears for awhile as well until Bonnicksen was banished to the McKimson unit by later in the year.

The next time Manny pops up in the world of animation, to best of my knowledge, is in this cartoon. The only other time I can find his name in the early Hanna-Barbera cartoons is in Treasure Jest in Augie’s second season, though the credits have been sliced off many of the others. It’s interesting to note Perez, Ross and Art Davis all worked at Hanna-Barbera at this time and all had been in Friz’ unit a few years earlier. Dick Bickenbach and Mike Maltese, who also worked on this cartoon, were with Freleng in the ‘40’s.

Maltese had a few clever sight gags here. He starts the cartoon with a bit reminiscent of the previous year’s Pixie and Dixie entry Jinks Junior, where daddy is teaching his son the facts about “in the run-of-the-millstream language, the ordinary house cat.” But because it’s Maltese writing, and we know his predilection for ersatz Latin names from watching the Roadrunner cartoons, Daddy continually refers to it as a “feline domesticus” during the full seven minutes. Augie is attentively listening as Daddy weaves a tale of a violent, coleslaw shredding animal. He tells dear old dad he’s “all ears” and raises his ears. Daddy responds by saying he’s “all ears, too” and raising his ears in three drawings on ones. It’s kind of corny but I still find it amusing.

Maltese never worked on the repetitious Sylvester/Hippety Hopper shorts at Warners, but bits and pieces of them often seem to work into an Augie Doggie cartoon. Just the way Sylvester brags to Sylvester Jr., Daddy boasts to Augie he’s “Fleetfoot, the Olympic Champeen Cat-Chaser.” And like Sylvester, Daddy’s demonstration of proof ends in clumsiness. “Was this table always here?” he asks the audience.

The lesson is interrupted by mewing and one of Bickenbach’s cute character designs. Augie, as he’s so apt to do, wants to keep the innocent little kitty. Daddy, as he’s so apt to do, says no and orders the animal out of the house. An Augie plot, as it’s so apt to do, usually means Augie gets his way. We’ll see.

The plot moves to another part of town where a delivery truck passing the same brown house 14 times on its way to the zoo loses its boxed cargo—a giant mouse wildcat. Maltese or someone came up with an imaginative idea. He shows the wildcat’s viciousness by turning him into a counter-clockwise-moving swirl accompanied by a buzzsaw noise. The little brown dots act like flying sawdust. We also get a unique walking cycle on ones. There are four drawings of the cat, three of them moved up on the background like the wildcat is rising. Then he “drops” back to the ground with a thumping sound and the cycle resumes. Here it is slowed down.

Back in the Daddy residence, the feline domesticus gets back in the house and runs past the same table a bunch of times into the basement. Coincidentally, the wildcat has clomped to the house and also zips into the basement through a window. You know what’s coming. Daddy gets attacked by the wildcat, but thinks the little kitten’s responsible. The first gags are a real disappointment. The shot is of Augie looking into the basement stairwell. The attack happens off-camera (after a reaction shot of Daddy), which is to be expected in an H-B cartoon; camera shakes and the soundtrack do the work. The first time, Daddy rushes up and closes the door. The second time he goes flying over Augie. But not once is there a cut to a funny drawing of Daddy mangled or something like that.

The best gag is Daddy wearing a suit of armour to do battle in the basement. He comes flying back out in a can with his name and picture on it.

A creative little routine follows. Daddy lowers a noose into the basement “to snare the little pincushion.” The wildcat’s ahead of him and pulls on the rope. Follow the action.

Aren’t the shingles on the Daddy house a little elaborate for a Hanna-Barbera cartoon?

Now Daddy realises it’s a wildcat and beats it out of the yard. Augie still think the kitten is causing all this. He goes to the basement to coax him out with a large saucer of milk. The wildcat’s arm reaches into the scene and grabs it. Augie goes into a bouncing boxer’s position. The wildcat looks at and predates the companion of one D. Dastardly by with a wheezy laugh (not supplied by Don Messick).

The feline domesticus has been hiding in a large work-boot while all this is going on. He pokes his head up and decides to rescue Augie. He turns into white counter-clockwise swirl which strips the fur off the wildcat. Cut to Daddy rolling into the yard—in a tank! But before he can do anything, the white kitten swirl chases the brown wildcat swirl away. Say! That brown house has now moved across from the Doggie home.

Yes, Augie can keep the kitten. We knew it would happen. “But I hope none of my dog chums find out I’m harbouring a feline domesticus,” Daddy confides in us as the iris closes.

What’s now called ‘Happy Home’ by its current rights holders is used twice. The first time when the kitten appears at the door, the sound cutter cues into the music at a bridge almost three quarters of the way through.

0:00 - Augie Doggie Main Title theme (Hoyt Curtin).
0:23 - EM-107D LIGHT MOVEMENT (Green) – Daddy teaches Augie about cats; crashes into table, Augie opens door.
1:46 - CB-90 HAPPY HOME (Bluestone-Cadkin) – Kitten outside door, door slams, kitten meows.
2:13 - CB-90 HAPPY HOME (Bluestone-Cadkin) – “Dad he wants to stay”; “That’s that.”
2:26 - ASININE (Jack Shaindlin) – Crate falls out of truck, wildcat thumps along street.
2:51 - GR-154 PICNIC OR COUNTRY SCENE (Green) – Daddy at cat diagram, runs after cat.
3:19 - EXCITEMENT UNDER DIALOGUE (Shaindlin) – Cat running, wildcat goes into basement, Daddy in can.
5:07 - CB-86A HIDE AND SEEK (Bluestone-Cadkin) – Daddy lowers rope, pulled into basement, wildcat attacks.
5:21 - circus running music (Shaindlin) – Augie looks down vent hole, Daddy slides into basement, Augie decides to go to basement.
5:53 - CB-83A MR TIPPY TOES (Bluestone-Cadkin) – Augie with saucer of milk, kitten attacks wildcat.
6:32 - SIX DAY BIKE RACE (Shaindlin) – Daddy in tank, kitten chases wildcat away, Daddy chuckles. Iris out.
7:08 - Augie Doggie End Title theme (Curtin).


  1. Gerry Chinniquy ended up at Hanna Barber as well, along with Ken Harris, but that was on 'Hey there Yogi bear'.

    This is the most I've read about Manny with Friz. I knew that Friz wasn't very nice, but I never knew it was like that.
    ...I wonder what Friz did in teh early 50s when he couldn't comapre anyone to Gerry Chinniquy?

  2. That canned Doggie Daddy gag is the high point of the film.Of course, he can't say your catch phrase, but he's gotta million of others.[My pal Gumby and I just know this dog who can only one, Nopey, "Noh-ohpe!" but he's just as fun despite the supposed single-catch phrase just as much as you.]

    "Asinine"'s appearance at the open is eaisly memorable as well.

    The buzzsaw of yet another of Hanna-Barbera many commonest stock sound effects.
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  3. It's kinda, sorta, a little bit like the basic plot for Sylvester's "Tree for Two", which Perez worked on for Freleng -- albeit the wildcat here causes problems in a 'gentler' way, since you couldn't do to Daddy what Friz did to Spike, even if you wanted to despite the limited animation budget, because you're supposed to like the character taking the pounding here. (Warner's also used the spinning-buzz-saw-to-show-violent-speed gag for Butch coming through the wall in Tashlin's "Brother Brat", but that was a one-off, and wasn't a running gag in the cartoon.)

  4. The gag of a character originally in a suit of armor becoming a 'canned' version of himself originated in 1946's HAIR-RAISING HARE, written by longtime Maltese cohort Tedd Pierce. The Anthill Mob would suffer the same indignity in an episode of 1969's PERILS OF PENELOPE PITSTOP, whose principal writer was Maltese.

    Likewise a character being dragged uncontrollably all over the house by a rope has its genesis in 1948's MOUSE WRECKERS, also written by Maltese.

    Even if one recognizes gags and routines from older- and higher-budgeted theatrical shorts, they still manage to play off amusingly in the H-B cartoons thanks to the background score and studio SFX.

  5. Oddly, I never drew a parallel between this cartoon and the repetitive “Giant Mouse” ones – even when Pixie and Dixie did it – because the wildcat COULD have been a very tough version of the “Feline Domesticus”.

    In other words, it was not A DIFFERENT species of animal dumbly mistaken for something it was not. In this way, Maltese actually makes the “old plot” plausible!

    And, yes the “can gag” was a great touch!

  6. I see what you mean, Joe. Daddy realises his mistake when he finally sees the wildcat. At least, we presume he hasn't seen it earlier. None of that is shown on camera.
    The Pixie and Dixie one is akin to Sylvester because Jinks insists the kangaroo is a giant mouse until the very end of the cartoon.

    Howard, that's the problem for me with the later HB cartoons. In some of them, the old gags just seem like old gags. In this cartoon, they're still distinctive enough.

  7. Who knows, Zartok? Maybe he just yelled a lot and sent stuff back. I can't see him intimidating Artie Davis, though. Artie had been around animation maybe a little longer than he had.