Saturday, 1 October 2011

Augie Doggie — Swat’s the Matter

Produced and Directed by Bill Hanna and Joe Barbera.
Animation – Carlo Vinci; Layout – Paul Sommer?; Backgrounds – Bob Gentle?; Story – Mike Maltese; Story Sketches – Dan Gordon; Titles – Lawrence Goble; Production Supervision – Howard Hanson (no credits available).
Voice Cast: Augie, Mosquitoes – Daws Butler; Doggie Daddy – Doug Young.
Music: Phil Green; Jack Shaindlin; Harry Bluestone/Emil Cadkin.
First Aired: week of February 22, 1960 (rerun, week of August 22, 1960).
Episode: Quick Draw McGraw Show M-22, Production No. J-64.
Plot: Doggie Daddy takes on mosquitoes invading his home.

On a temperate spring day in 1959, Mike Maltese was relaxing in his office at the Hanna-Barbera studio, as he was apt to do, when an idea came to him. “Musketeers,” he laughed to no one in particular. “It sounds so much like ‘mosquitoes.’ Why not do a cartoon where mosquitoes are musketeers?”

Now, that may not have happened at all. But, considering Maltese’s sense of humour, it’s not much of a stretch. It seems he loved playing with words. There’s something off the wall—Maltese’s specialty—about sword-wielding mosquitoes that buzz “All for one and one for all!” And there’s really only one fall-guy character Maltese was writing for that would run afoul of insects interrupting his life, and that’s Doggie Daddy. Dear Old Dad had already battled ants in In the Picnic of Time earlier in the season.

Maltese, the vaudeville-loving ham, would never have made a Method actor. For if his mosquito were to ask “What’s my motivation?” he’d have a hard time finding it in Maltese’s story. He and his buddies invade the Daddy residence for no particular reason and go after dad in a combination of violence and gallantry. They win in the end, but it’s not clear what they’ve really gained. Either Maltese didn’t have time to flesh out the plot, or he didn’t care, and was more interested in the musketeer/mosquito pun.

The cartoon starts out like it’s going to be one about trying to sleep. That’s what Daddy’s attempting to do on the couch as Augie is doing his homework nearby. “Can’t you use soft lead in dat pencil?” Daddy enquires, grimacing over the noise. Augie agrees to be quiet and Daddy goes back to snoozing.

Three mosquitos zip across an attractive little background drawing, land on a window sill and agree to attack Daddy. A cute gag has the three flipping coins to decide who’s going to poke him with their stinger. You can see a bit of Carlo’s early H-B animation style here with the thick row of teeth and the winning mosquito’s head jerking from side to side (it seems to me Carlo used the puttering-mouth sleeping animation on Huck that Doggie Daddy has in this cartoon). But his animation is less distinctive than it was in the earlier cartoons. His outrageous takes are missing here (and got watered down after the first season of The Flintstones). Still, Carlo was no hack and his cycle animation of Doggie Daddy in the mosquito sabre fight later on is pretty fluid. Some of it is on ones and Daddy twists his body as he thrusts and parries.

Maltese drags out an old gag. Augie goes to swat the mosquito over Daddy’s nose and swats Daddy instead. “Run for your life! Da ceilin’s fallin’,” cries Daddy. In the next scene, Daddy resumes his attempt to “Cruis’ da Sout Pacific” in his dreams. Meanwhile, Augie gets the unusual idea to put glue on Daddy’s nose. That way, the mosquito will get stuck when it lands there and he’ll catch him. The mosquito’s ahead of Augie. He jumps on a shovel in the fireplace which conveniently has a hot piece of coal on it. The coal lands on Daddy’s nose. You can guess what happens. “When I wake up, I’m going to give a yell,” predicts Daddy. And he does.

Daddy comes up with his own brilliant idea. He has a saucepan ready. Just as the mosquito’s about to jab him, Daddy puts the saucepan over his face. There’s a metallic smack and the mosquito lays stunned on the ground. Just in time, the mosquito gets out of the way of a flyswatter. Daddy chases him with the swatter. They go off stage right. Back they come. The “chicken mosquito” is chasing Daddy and swatting him. They go off stage left. Augie chases the mosquito with a DDT spray canister (ah, the ‘50s!) “You can’t do that to my dad,” he cries. They go off stage right. Back they come. The mosquito is spraying Augie. “I guess you can.” The pace of the scene is fast. I don’t know whether Bill Hanna was still timing cartoons at this period or if Alex Lovy had started doing it, but the timing’s great.

Dad answers Augie’s cry for help. He grabs a “king-size stinger.” Here’s Carlo at work again. He gives Daddy a little “I’ll get you” expression and an appropriate bent wrist as he prepares to do battle. Carlo always adds a little something.

Now we get the mosquitoes as musketeers duelling with Daddy, who gives a little commentary as we go along. “Why couldn’t we have mosquitoes dat play chess?” Daddy rhetorically asks us. The one mosquito twirls Daddy’s sabre into the ceiling. “Have mine. You’re welcome” buzzes the mosquito. At least, I’m guessing those are the words. The mosquitoes simply say “Bzzzz, bzzz” the whole cartoon, even while crossing sabres with Daddy, who is shouting “Ha, aha! Take dat” during the match.

Augie captures him inside a toilet plunger shot from a bow that’s shot against the wall. That’s the cue for the other two mosquitoes to come to the rescue. They back Daddy through a door, which he slams shut and hangs horizontal between the door and a stairwell post. The mosquito shoves his sabre through the door’s keyhole. I’d rather not think where it ended up.

Daddy pins the second mosquito with his sabre. The third cuts a ceiling light which crashes on top of Daddy. The two mosquitoes push Daddy back toward the entrance of the basement stairs. Down he goes off-camera. Daddy knows when he’s licked. The shot cuts to the mosquitoes with their sabres crossed buzzing “One for all and all for one.” Daddy proves he’s a good sport. “After all, how many folks can say they’ve got the Three Mosquito-Teers in dere livin’ room?” And Daddy chuckles away to end the cartoon.

The sound cutter was smart enough to accent the noise of Augie’s pencil at the beginning of the cartoon by not having any background music. Most of the music in the first half is by Phil Green. There’s a lovely fast quasi-classical piece that I’m guessing is from the Sam Fox library. It was used in a few Augies and at least one Snooper and Blabber over the next two seasons.

0:00 - Augie Doggie Main Title theme (Curtin).
0:05 - no music – Augie doing homework.
0:26 - GR-257 BEDTIME STORY (Green) – “I’m tryin’ to take a nap,”
0:46 - no music – Mosquitoes fly onto Daddy’s window sill.
0:55 - GR-255 PUPPETRY COMEDY (Green) – Mosquitoes flip coins, Augie swats Daddy, apologises.
1:48 - GR-257 BEDTIME STORY (Green) – Dad snoozes, Augie gets an idea.
2:08 - EM-107 LIGHT MOVEMENT (Green) – Coal scene.
2:45 - GR-258 THE TIN DRAGOONS (Green) – Saucepan over face, mosquito on floor, swatter comes down.
3:27 - light symphonic music with strings (?) – Mosquito buzzes away, swats Daddy, Augie sprays mosquito, mosquito sprays Augie, Daddy grabs sabre, yells “En guard-ee.”
4:05 - jaunty bassoon and skipping strings (Shaindlin) – Mosquito puts down sprayer.
4:22 - tick-tock flute music (Shaindlin) – “If there’s one thing I can’t stand,” mosquito gives Daddy his sabre, Augie captures mosquito with plunger.
5:08 - CB-89A ROMANTIC JAUNT (Cadkin-Bluestone) – Mosquito struggles, other mosquitos grab sabre, Daddy goes through door, mosquitoes chat.
5:44 - LFU-117-2 MAD RUSH No 2 (Shaindlin) – Mosquito shoves sabre through keyhole, Daddy pins mosquito, light fixture lands on Daddy, Daddy crashes down stairs.
6:13 - PG-161H LIGHT MOVEMENT (Green) – Augie runs to Daddy, points to mosquitoes.
6:27 - tick-tock flute music (Shaindlin) – Mosquitos are musketeers, Daddy tag line.
6:49 - Augie Doggie End Title theme (Curtin).

1 comment:

  1. A personal fave of mine, mainly due to the fact that this was part of an old Augie Doggie & Doggie Daddy VHS I have lyin' about, which I'd watch over and over again. Carlo's animation here always struck me as neat-looking long before I knew HB inside and out =)