Saturday, 13 October 2012

Augie Doggie — Yuk-Yuk Duck

Produced and Directed by Bill Hanna and Joe Barbera.
Credits: Animation – Lew Marshall, Layout – Paul Sommer, Backgrounds – Art Lozzi, Story – Mike Maltese, Story Direction – Alex Lovy, Titles – Art Goble, Production Supervision – Howard Hanson.
Voices: Augie Doggie – Daws Butler, Doggie Daddy – Doug Young, Duck – Red Coffey.
Music: Phil Green, Harry Bluestone/Emil Cadkin, Jack Shaindlin, Hecky Krasnow.
Episode: Quick Draw McGraw Show M-027, Production J-81.
First Aired: 1960
Plot: Augie tries to keep a duck in the home, but Daddy’s allergic to it.

If Mike Maltese had been a cartoon episode, he would have been named “Stuck with a Duck.” I can’t help but think Joe Barbera told Maltese to write some cartoons with the little noisy orphan duck that Barbera and Bill Hanna happily deposited in a bunch of Tom and Jerry shorts at MGM, then in a couple of Yogi Bear cartoons (as “Little Biddy Buddy”) when they started their own studio.

So it was in the 1960-61 TV season that Maltese dropped the duck in two of the 13 Augie Doggie cartoons, one with Snooper and Blabber, a theatrical with Loopy De Loop (released in 1961) and then was handed the assignment of writing the series when the duck was tweaked and emerged as Yakky Doodle. He had already visited the Doggie family the previous year in “Gone to the Ducks.”

Maltese is, unfortunately, going strictly with formula elements in his story. We get:
● The aforementioned duck being a pest,
● The Genius Inventor version of Augie,
● Augie wants to keep an animal in the house that Daddy doesn’t want.

And Maltese pads for time. We hear a knock at the door. We even see the sound lines coming from the door. “There’s someone at the door, dear old dad,” Augie says. Well, um, don’t we already know that?

But there are bits of dialogue reminiscent of his work at Warners. “Did you ever see a duck faint from being hungry?” asks proto-Yakky. “Yeah, it’s not a very beautiful sight.” He goes into histrionics and passes out, Augie rushes to get him some food, then the duck looks at the camera and smiling says “There goes a good boy.” Yes, he’s a trickster duck, much like Daffy was at Warners. And you could picture Daffy pulling this kind of routine on, say, Elmer Fudd. But the tame takes and direction make it a far less effective scene than it ever would have been during Maltese’s (and Daffy’s) heyday at Warner Bros.

Here’s an example of what I mean by “tame” from earlier in the cartoon, and I’ve mentioned this before in the cartoons where Alex Lovy has handled the story direction; I’m presuming he’s the one working out the timing by 1960 as Bill Hanna’s energies were directed elsewhere. Here’s Daddy when he sees proto-Yakky at the door. The frame count for these four drawings: 3, 2, 3, 2. The extreme, if there is one in this scene, is the second drawing. But it’s not held to allow it to establish. The whole bit is evenly timed and drawn. There’s no reason, certainly not a monetary one, that the extreme couldn’t have been held longer (and made funnier) and in-betweens eliminated. It just looks like the ears float up and down.

The layouts by Paul Sommer (misspelled as “Sommers” on the credits) are functional. Nothing fancy. The opening has a nice effect. Sommer has the colours change on the establishing drawing of the Daddy home when lightning flashes during the scene. I like Art Lozzi’s stormy sky swirls, too.

The premise behind the cartoon is simple. Daddy’s inside reading the paper on a stormy night. Augie’s mixing some kind of formula in a test tube and beaker. “This weather is for the ducks,” says Augie. Daddy sneezes. Even the mention of the word “duck” sets off his allergy. That sets up proto-Yakky’s knock at the door and the rest of the cartoon.

The duck is lost. He wants to know which way is south. Daddy tells him and slams the door in his beak. The duck knocks on the door again. “Your dear old dad bent my little beak when he slammed the door. I think I’m going to faint. Did you ever see a duck faint? Oh, it’s a terrible sight. Watch,” says the duck. Augie’s sucked in, caring nothing for his dad’s constant sneezing. “Oh, the shame of it,” says Augie, emulating Sylvester, Jr. (a couple of times in the cartoon), “My parental parent is cruel to ducks.” For good measure, we get the “my ears are tied” visual gag that was used in the first cartoon, “Foxhound Hounded Fox,” the previous season when Daddy tries to reason with his son.

Directions to fly south? That isn’t what the duck really wants. He raps at the window. He’s faint from hunger (we get the fainting dialogue for the second time). Well, he isn’t because as soon as Augie rushes off-scene to get him some food, he immediately is out of his faint, smiling at the camera. He made up the whole story. He’s a user. But they gave him a series. Go figure.

Biddy Buddy/pre-Yakky devours the food in a swirl of lines. Even a turkey leg. That’s getting close to cannibalism.

Now, while all this has been happening, Daddy’s been napping in an armchair. Augie put a clothespin on his nose. Daddy sneezes it off. “Gesundheit,” says the duck. Daddy chases after him. “If dere’s one thing I can’t stand, it’s a polite duck,” Daddy offers. “Help!” squawks proto-Yakky. “Don’t let him get me! I’m just a poor little duck.” Maltese evidently ran out of dialogue ideas; normally, he’d come up with some silly adjectives for the duck to add in the line.

Augie comes up with a mixture that will make Doggie Daddy like ducks. Like them to eat, that is. Daddy has the duck in his mouth (who pops out like a cuckoo in a clock with a superfluous bell on the soundtrack). Daddy could have saved the world a cartoon series by swallowing proto-Yakky (a series that could be substituted with a different star, say, Yowp) but, instead, the duck jumps off his tongue. Augie’s ready with a “super unallergic portion.” There’s not even any attempt at transformation animation after Daddy drinks the stuff. Lew Marshall simply has him stare and blink. Maltese comes up with a surreal ending (and I’m sure it was used in later H-B cartoons) where Daddy “feels kinda ducky all over”—so ducky, he decides to fly south for the winter. And that’s how the cartoon ends—Daddy, the duck and Augie (who drinks some potion so he won’t be left behind) quacking and flying in cycle animation over the same bare trees 16 times. No cartoon-ending observations to the camera by Daddy, let alone an incidental character that happens to be in the scene. Hey, what happened to the rain storm?

Art Lozzi wasn’t given much to do in this cartoon. There are a minimum of eight background drawings, ten if the drawings at the open door are separate backgrounds. One is a bare wall with a shadow that’s used in a bunch of running sequences.

The sound-cutter digs up the sad trombone/violin music from one of the production libraries for the duck’s tales of woe and it works really well. There’s also a snippet of the toodle-loodle music on an ocarina that was used in “Mars Little Precious” by Hecky Krasnow in the Sam Fox library. Spencer Moore’s woodwind workpart music L-1158 gets used for an effect twice, once over top of a cue by Phil Green. There’s also a Jack Shaindlin cue I don’t have that’s a march that ends much like his cue “Sportscope,” which was never used in cartoons.

0:00 - Augie Doggie Main Title theme (Hanna-Barbera-Curtin).
0:25 - GR-347 GATHERING THE PRODUCE (Green) – Shot of home outside.
0:35 - CB-90 HAPPY HOME (Bluestone-Cadkin) – Daddy in chair, sneezes, door knocks, duck at door.
1:19 - SWINGING GHOSTS (Krasnow) – Duck at door, Daddy slams door.
1:34 - GR-75 POPCORN SHORT BRIDGE No 1 (Green) – Daddy walks, door knock, Augie opens door.
1:49 - sad trombone music (?) – Duck with bent little beak, faints, Augie slams door.
2:15 - PG-160G LIGHT MOVEMENT (Green) – “Dad! Oh, Dad!...His beak is bent.”
2:28 - GR-78 CUSTARD PIE CAPERS BRIDGE No 1 (Green) – Dad runs with duck, “And don’t come back.”
2:41 - GR-65 BUSH BABY (Green) – “Oh, the shame of it!”, ears are tied, rap at window, clothes-pin on Daddy’s nose.
3:33 - sad trombone music (?) – Duck tale of woe, duck faints, looks at camera.
4:06 - PG-168J FAST MOVEMENT (Green) – Augie runs with food, duck eats it.
4:15 - L-1158 ANIMATION COMEDY (Moore) – “Nice try.”
4:19 - CB-83A MR TIPPY TOES (Bluestone-Cadkin) – Daddy snorts and sneeze, zooms off camera.
4:34 - medium circus chase music (Shaindlin) – Daddy chases duck, Augie mixes, hands mix to Daddy.
5:02 - CB-86A HIDE AND SEEK (Bluestone-Cadkin) – Daddy takes test tube, decides to eat duck, duck runs off camera.
5:26 - related to SPORTSCOPE (Shaindlin) – Duck won’t even make a small sandwich, Augie mixes, runs, skids to a stop.
5:49 - GR-255 PUPPETRY COMEDY (Green) – “Dad! You didn’t?”, cuckoo, Daddy glugs formula, Daddy flaps arms, sputtering.
6:36 - L-1158 ANIMATION COMEDY (Moore) – Daddy lifts off, shot of duck, “Come on, chum.”
6:40 - GR-255 PUPPETRY COMEDY (Green) – “Let’s hit the wild blue of yonder.”
6:44 - related to SPORTSCOPE (Shaindlin) – Duck flies up from floor; Augie, Daddy and duck fly.
7:09 - Augie Doggie End Title theme (Curtin).


  1. Daddy could have saved the world a cartoon series by swallowing proto-Yakky...

    Hey, that would put Fibber Fox and the Alfred Hitchcock alligator out of work!

    (You can tell Maltese enjoyed working with the duck as much as he enjoyed a Novocaine-free root canal, but at least having the damn bird in his own series allowed Mike to create new and far more interesting side characters; the problem here and in the other shorts is he's got to shoehorn the mallard in with the already-established characters, so there's no room for new schtick, and whatever 'cuteness' factor Yakky's MGM antecedent may have had is completely gone in limited animation.)

  2. That's all Maltese and Tony Benedict could do. The duck wasn't funny. And there were only so many times Chopper could tell him to close his eyes. So they gave Fibber and Alfie the material.

    At least Maltese eventually got him out of his self-pitying mode in his own cartoons. He's much more cheerful, and that's reflected in Jimmy Weldon's up-beat delivery.

    I wonder if Foster had written the series if he would have been more Tweety-like.

    1. It seems like what Mike and Tony did (or what Joe wanted them to do) was to borrow again from the Tom & Jerry series, but this time, graft Yakky onto the Spike & Tyke relationship. So as a result, we had a dog protecting a duck instead of his pup from the menacing fox, alligator or whatever the threat of the day was (story-wise, I actually prefer this set-up, even if a dog protecting a duck is a bit odd -- at least with Fibber and Alfred, they actually were trying to eat Yakky and were a real threat Chopper had to protect him from; with the Spike & Tyke shorts, Joe Barbera at times had to turn Spike into a clueless, angry idiot unable to even see Jerry or figure out that Tom was chasing the mouse and not trying to bother his son).

    2. Warren foster wrote 2 Yakky Doodles, which were Easter Duck and Duck hunting.

  3. Stop hating the duck. Surrender to the duck. The duck is adorable.

  4. I actually (and a surprise to me) liked the Yakky Doodle cartoons. Cutesy and violent at the same time - suits me! He should be an annoying character to me, but he just isn't. I like him. And all the supporting characters in his own series too. You're right though, making him a bit more cheerful was a good move. He even appeared in a Snagglepuss cartoon within The Yogi Bear Show, in addition to his own segment.

  5. I like Yakky, too… But think he was funnier as a pest, as in the great “Slumber Party Smarty” (“I shot a bear! I shot a bear!”)

    To me, the best moments of his cartoons belonged to Fibber and Alfie.

    He certainly had a long gestation period, for a duck without a “mama”!

  6. YOWP don't you think it is unfair to attack someone who won't answer you to defend himself. Would Yakky answer? Yakky: YOWP is a dope.
    Why does Joe Barbera take all the blame. After all Bill Hanna directed "Hard Luck Duck" for The What A Cartoon Show in 1996. Yakky was a nice character. OK, sometimes going overboard with pitying himself, but nevertheless, people go overboard with it.

  7. Diss the duck, and see what happens? The duck lovers step up to the plate. Surrender to the Duck!

  8. Aw, Yowp still has it in for the Duck, ever since that Yogi cartoon all those years ago! No secret there!

  9. Surprisingly, I like Yakky Doodle. Although I understand why you dislike him, I think he's actually pretty cute. When Mike Maltise and Jimmy Weldon got a hold of him, his quality improvied. By using antagonists like Fibber fox and Alfy Gator, he was alowed to get humor in his shorts. If Yakky guest stars in my Huckleberry Hound show revival, I'll let Tom Ruegger wright for him.