Saturday, 20 August 2011

Augie Doggie — Ro-Butler

Produced and Directed by Bill Hanna and Joe Barbera.
Animation – Ken Muse; Layout - Dick Bickenbach?; Backgrounds – Bob Gentle; Story – Mike Maltese; Titles – Lawrence Goble; Production Supervision – Howard Hanson.
Voice Cast: Doggie Daddy – Doug Young; Augie Doggie – Daws Butler; Robot – no voice.
Music: Hecky Krasnow; Phil Green; Jack Shaindlin; Harry Bluestone/Emil Cadkin.
First aired: week of February 1, 1960 (rerun, week of August 1, 1960).
Episode: Quick Draw McGraw Show No. M-019, Production J-48.
Plot: A robot servant Augie builds for his dad on Father’s Day doesn’t work as Daddy hoped.

Do robots ever work properly in cartoons? A sampling going back to the early 1930s would indicate either “no” or “too well.” Mike Maltese knew that, and could point to the experience of Hubie and Bertie in House Hunting Mice (1947) that he wrote for Chuck Jones at Warners.* In this cartoon, Maltese has decided to marry the concept of a robot that follows orders to the letter, a Father’s Day gone awry (he had experience with that in the great 1951 cartoon A Bear For Punishment) and the enthusiastic boy-genius version of Augie Doggie. Unlike Maltese’s Super-Genius, Wile E. Coyote, the invention doesn’t backfire on the inventor, but on Dear Old Dad.

The cartoon starts off with Augie hammering the robot together in the basement (the one seen in Cat Happy Pappy) and Daddy in bed sleeping. Daddy talks in his sleep, too, and mutters “Get in the roundhouse, mouse. The cat can’t corner you there,” leaving it up to us all to figure out what his dream is all about. The robot tries to wake Daddy and startles him into jumping into the light fixture in the ceiling. There’s a shot that’s supposed to be from Daddy’s viewpoint but the angle strikes me as being too low. Daddy agrees to allow the mechanical man to be his Father’s Day butler.

The rest of the consists mainly of a series of sight gags, based on the robot taking everything Daddy says literally. Let’s go through them.

● Let me have a couple of lumps. We all know where this gag’s going. Daddy wants it for his coffee. The robot bashes him on the head with a coffee pot.

● Toast. Daddy says “give to me straight.” So the robot shoves the toaster straight in Daddy’s mouth. His ears pop up like toast. Cleverest gag in the cartoon.

● Morning bath. The robot grabs Daddy by the neck and throw him in the tub. Everything goes fine until Daddy says “How about hanging me out to dry?” Cut to Daddy hanging from the clothes line by his ears.

● Morning paper and cigar. The “alu-minium val-let” brings them. Daddy orders “First, the cigar, then the paper, then light it.” The robot shoves the cigar in Daddy’s mouth, then the newspaper to encase it, then puts a match to it. Flames flash up and dear old dad is left with a charred stick extended from his mouth (remarkably, his face isn’t touched). “I mean first the cigar, then the paper, then. The robot reversed the order of insertion with the same end result. Daddy has a squarish flat head here, like Huck Hound in some early cartoons.

● Get the dust pan and the broom. Daddy changes his mind about firing the “lachry-mose ro-butler” and gives him a final order to “get rid of the mess in this room here.” The robot decides that means Daddy, and picks him up with the dust pan before dropping in a garbage can outside.

● Let me have that broom and dust pan. Before Daddy can get out the word “pan,” the robot brings the broom down on him, and smashes the remote control at the same time. That means the robot has to repeat the order over and over until Augie can get a new control box. It’s remarkable, and perhaps a bit unsettling depending on how you look at it, that Daddy is smiling as he’s getting bashed. “Take your time, son,” he says. “After all, how many fathers are lucky enough to get a butler on Father’s Day?” Hmm. The robot is obviously not the major invention here. Augie must have created a battery that never goes dead.

Only six background tunes have been used by the sound cutter in this one. They’re pretty well timed to end when a scene does. Afraid I don’t have names for a couple of the Jack Shaindlin tunes.

0:00 - Augie Doggie Main Title theme (Curtin).
0:05 - THE HAPPY COBBLER (Krasnow) – Daddy sleeping, Augie builds robot, pushes button.
1:11 - ASININE (Shaindlin) – Augie orders robot to get Daddy breakfast, Daddy jumps into light fixture.
2:20 - jaunty bassoon and skipping strings (Shaindlin) – Daddy gets lumps, toast, bath, dries off.
3:55 - EM-107 LIGHT MOVEMENT (Green) – Cigar/Paper gag.
5:06 - CB-89A ROMANTIC JAUNT (Cadkin-Bluestone) – Dustpan scene.
6:06 - fast circus chase music (Shaindlin) – Smashed control box, robot chases Dad.
6:49 - Augie Doggie End Title theme (Curtin).

* House Hunting Mice owes a little something in plot to Jones’ earlier Dog Gone Modern (1939), written by Rich Hogan.


  1. I love how the robot hobbles around on it's wheel and has a blinking antenna reminiscent of the alien that gave Huck such a hard time in " Cop And Saucer ". Even though one was a space alien and the other was a robot, I'm suprised that they give it the same little voice. Ha!

  2. Weird, I was thinking about suggesting this short to you not long ago while on vacation/holiday. Good to see it turn up naturally =)

  3. I had 18 of these in the can and have 13 now. A couple are cartoons people asked about some time ago. So it'll take a while to get to them all.

  4. I found a copy with the credits. Bickenbach is the layout man and Dan Gordon was Story Sketches.