Saturday, 19 May 2012

Huckleberry Hound — Ten Pin Alley

Produced by Bill Hanna and Joe Barbera.
Credits: Animation – Ed Love; Layout – Ed Benedict; Backgrounds – Dick Thomas; Story – Warren Foster; Story Sketches – Dan Gordon; Titles – Art Goble; Production Supervision – Howard Hanson.
Voice Cast: Announcer – Don Messick; Huckleberry Hound, Pierre – Daws Butler.
Music: Jack Shaindlin, Bill Loose/John Seely, Geordie Hormel, Spencer Moore.
First aired: week of Sept. 14, 1959 (repeat, week of May 9, 1960).
Episode: Huckleberry Hound Show No. K-027, Production E-71
Plot: Huck takes on Powerful Pierre at the Final, Final, Final of the Bowling Congress.

Poor Huckleberry Hound. Nobody’s pulling for him, not even the narrator in this cartoon, the first written by Warren Foster to be broadcast. They’re all under the spell of Powerful Pierre, even when he blatantly cheats, chuckling “he’d do anything for a laugh.” By contrast, the bowling announcer is dismissive when he introduces our hero:

Announcer: And here’s the challenger, Huckleberry Hound! (muttering) My, he’s a puny one.
Huck: Not really. I’m small, but I’m wiry.

Foster comes up with an okay little cartoon after taking over from the Barbera-Shows writing team. Foster ditched (except for Yogi) the annoying rhyming pairs of words. And while his cartoons seem to rely more on dialogue, there are sight gags as well. Foster’s joined in this cartoon by another recent Warner Bros. defector, Dick Thomas, who drew a nice little background shot (re-used near the ending) to open the cartoon. Had this been Warners, the spotlight beams would have been animated but that’s a bit much for cost-pinching Hanna-Barbera. In fact there’s reused cycle animation a couple of times in this cartoon.

The two Eds worked on this, Ed Benedict and Ed Love. The designs are pretty conventional for a Benedict cartoon, though perhaps that’s because there are only two characters and the bulk of the cartoon takes place in a bowling alley and few background layouts are used. The only thing that remotely reminds me of Benedict is one shot of Powerful Pierre where his eyes look like flattened eggs. It’s a shame he didn’t go for a stylised character, like when he teamed up with Love in ‘Nowhere Bear’ where he designed a really flat version of Ranger Smith. And Benedict liked designing characters with a hump at the back of the head, though Dick Bickenbach did it on occasion. You can see the hump on Pierre.

But you can’t miss Love in this one. His limited animation style for dialogue is all over the place, including the teeth with the curly upper lip. Love moves Huck’s head up and down in at least five different positions. He also has some fine animation of Pierre bowling. He moves with balletic grace when he approaches the line and throws the ball but in between, he rolls his large butt at an angle toward the camera.

The cartoon opens with the announcer setting up the match. Pierre shows us why he’s an “international favourite” and “a great personality” by wiggling his moustache and then his ears in a bit of limited personality animation that the studio would eschew in its short cartoons not much later. Pierre then rolls his ball along his arms and deliberately allows it to land on Huck’s head. The announcer laughs “See what I mean?” So if anyone missed Pierre’s two first-season cartoons, they’ll now know Huck’s the underdog. The announcer has a dismissive tone of voice when he mentions Huck’s name and asks them to pose with the cup. Pierre bashes it on top of Huck’s head. As for Pierre’s sense of humour, Huck says (after finally pulling the cup of his head) he can take it or leave it.

The remaining gags:

► Pierre ties Huck’s fingers in the holes of his bowling ball. Huck bowls. The arm stretches and snaps back, then back and forth some more. Huck is left with a long length of a hose-like arm. “Who could have done such a dirty treek?” laughs Pierre as he pumps Huck’s other arm to bring the two arms back to size. Love engages in a little bit of animation that story directors in future would deem superfluous. The tied fingers in the bowling ball hole stiffen and point up when the arm gets stretched out as far as it can go, three sets of drawings on twos. Love’s trying to get avoid static drawings.

► Love has time to make the drawings as he reuses the animation of Huck bowling in the next scene. You can tell because his fingers are still knotted together in the ball like in the previous scene. Pierre uses his foot to slide back the boards of the lane, creating a hole that Huck’s ball falls through, missing the pins. “Ha, ha, ha. What a devil that Pierre is,” chortles the announcer.

► Pierre bowls a 7-10 split. “Sacre fooey!” No matter, he bowls again (the animation is re-used), this time using a barbell to make the split. Huck starts getting annoyed about it, but the announcer, still overcome by Pierre’s star-power, comments “This is an embarrassing display of poor sportsmanship on the part of the challenger.”

► Pierre offers his “favourite ball” as a peace offering. It’s a trick. It’s an iron ball. Huck bowls again in re-used animation. Pierre pulls the ball back with a magnet. For whatever reason, Pierre puts the magnet in his back pocket. The ball zooms into Pierre and literally bends him out of shape.

► Now comes the final gag, one reminiscent of the ones Foster wrote at Warners when Daffy tried to trick Bugs into doing something but ended up getting frustrated, doing it himself, and getting blasted. Pierre disguises a helium-filled balloon as a bowling ball and puts glue “in zee holes for zee ‘Ucklesberry’s fingers. The idea is Huck will get stuck in the ball and float away. But Huck innocently grabs the wrong ball. “Sacre stupid! Zat is zee wrong ball!” yells Pierre, who puts his own fingers in the glued balloon ball and rises out of the frame. Huck is declared the new champion by forfeit (and he rolls the ball, thanks to reused animation).

The final scene shows a silhouette of Pierre in the night sky floating over some cities. “Flash!” says the announcer. “We have just received a report that the ex-champion is passing over Wichita. We’re going to miss him. He’d do anything for a laugh.” Cut to close-up of Pierre crying, his body shaking. Iris out.

Pierre is apparently airborne for almost two years before he lands in France. He resurfaces as a crook in Huck’ déParee in Huck’s fourth and final season (it’s the cartoon where Huck, when told about a bank robbery, asks “Was that the Left Bank or the Right Bank?”).

The cartoon may be named “Ten Pin Alley” but there’s no Tin Pan Alley music in it. We get the standard stock music, with a few of the beds re-used. One difference between the first and later seasons is the sound cutter tended to use more, and therefore, shorter pieces of background music.

0:00 - THE HUCKLEBERRY HOUND SONG (Curtin, Hanna, Barbera, Shows) – Opening Titles.
0:06 - ZR-45 METROPOLITAN (Hormel) – Shot of bowling alley, pan across lanes.
0:22 - LAF-7-12 FUN ON ICE (Shaindlin) – Huck strolls past balls.
0:35 - LAF-4-1 FISHY STORY (Shaindlin) – Pierre balances ball, Huck conked with ball.
1:08 - L-81 COMEDY UNDERSCORE (Moore) – Huck’s eyes roll, pose with cup.
1:52 - ZR-52 LIGHT QUIET (Hormel) – Pierre presents ball, ties fingers.
2:30 - LAF-20-5 TOBOGGAN RUN (Shaindlin) – Huck flies with ball, “..such a dirty trick.”
2:46 - L-1154 ANIMATION COMEDY (Moore) – Huck with stretched arm, pumped up.
3:00 - TC 202 ZANY COMEDY (Loose-Seely) – Fat goose egg, Huck bowls, Pierre moves floor.
3:31 - TC-301 ZANY WALTZ (Loose-Seely) – Pierre moves back, rolls split.
3:42 - L-1154 ANIMATION COMEDY (Moore) – Huck sorry, Pierre makes split, Huck protests, apologises, Pierre hands blue ball to Huck.
4:35 - TC-201 PIXIE COMEDY (Loose-Seely) – “It is my favourite,” Huck bowls.
4:48 - LAF-20-5 TOBOGGAN RUN (Shaindlin) – Magnet scene.
5:10 - TC-202 ZANY COMEDY (Loose-Seely) – Shot of score sheet, balloon ball, filled, Pierre puts fingers in ball.
6:02 - TC-303 ZANY COMEDY (Loose-Seely) – Pierre floats up, Huck bowls.
6:30 - ZR-45 METROPOLITAN (Hormel) – Pierre passing over Wichita.
6:39 - LAF-7-12 FUN ON ICE (Shaindlin) – Close up of Pierre floating.
6:49 - THE HUCKLEBERRY HOUND SONG (Hanna, Barbera, Curtin, Shows) – End titles.


  1. Greg Chenoweth19 May 2012 at 07:50

    I have always liked this Huck cartoon on bowling. I think Powerful Pierre was a great "villain" to pair up with Huckleberry Hound. I have always wondered why they didn't put Pierre in "Laff-a-Lympics".

    1. Greg, I always enjoyed it when Huck was paired against Pierre. When my sons were younger, these were some of our favorites. It made for some great laughs.

    2. Greg Chenoweth19 May 2012 at 12:30

      My favorite with Powerful Pierre is "Tricky Trapper". I think it's my favorite Huck cartoon of all time. He was a great character. "Pierre does not scare. So there."

  2. Greg: Me,too.."Pierre..full of laughs".

    Yowp: The final scene used "Rodeo Day", did it not? I seem to remember it bein gused at the final scene.Steve C.

  3. Think I've found a new fave animator.

  4. Nice tribute to Ed Love, Yowp. Ed was hated by his assistants (especially Kimi Calvert) in his H-B years, because he worked so rough and left so many drawings to be made. He was so adept at timing and knowing exactly which extremes were important, that he could do 100 feet in a day! That bowling shot is a great example of his timing, which used the concept of delay. He would add extra extremes in an action, like Pierre turning his rear to the camera, and that great little extra push of the ball before he comes to his "follow-through" pose. When I used to animate on commercials, Ed picked up a spot for Libby's "Libbyland" kid's frozen dinners from Spungbuggy Works (A commercial house where I was on staff), and did 45 feet (30 secs.) of crowd shots, a pirate ship and a swashbuckling pirate in one week-end! It took us mere mortals TWO WEEKS to clean up and fill in all the inbetweens he left, and when the smoke cleared, the spot looked exactly like Ed had done the whole thing himself. Don't forget that Ed was a "Duck Man" at Disney, and did some splendid work in such cartoons as "The Riveter" and "Bill Posters". Mark Kausler

  5. "Yowp-Yowp" Dodsworth and HB-fanatics from the whole world,

    This is another Hanna-Barbera short that involves the "two Eds", in the animation (Ed Love) and in the layouts (the legendary Ed Benedict).
    The Yogi Bear episode Nowhere Bear (whose topic is included on this blog) brings this same chemistry, involving the animation and the layout made by the "two Eds".
    And these two shorts bring the script made by another legend: Warren Foster.

  6. Didn’t Pierre – looking VERY different (and slimmer) – appear in Huck’s “Foreign Legion” cartoon (title?) before settling into “Huck De Paree”?

    …Or was that another “Powerful Pierre”? …Ya know, kinda like all those “Daltons”!

  7. Joe, yeah, Pierre's there, so there. (that's our Charlie Shows invocation for you).
    All I remembered about that cartoon was the long opening routine. Bick's Pierre looks different in that than the one he used in 'Ski Champ Chump' or in the other cartoons, but he sounds and behaves the same. I like the contest format for Huck and Pierre; it seems to suit them.

    1. Yes, not unlike Droopy and Spike (or was it Butch?) Those names never stuck!

    2. Oh, and thanks for the "Shows Shout", Scout!

  8. I’ve always thought of Pierre floating away as Karma, like the lion soaring away in another episode.