Saturday 27 October 2012

Yogi Bear — Bare Face Bear

Produced and Directed by Bill Hanna and Joe Barbera.
Credits: Animation – Gerard Baldwin; Layout – Walt Clinton; Backgrounds – Bob Gentle; Story – Warren Foster; Story Sketches – Dan Gordon; Titles – Art Goble; Production Supervision – Howard Hanson.
Voice Cast: Yogi, Crook– Daws Butler; Yowp, Sheriff – Don Messick.
Music: Jack Shaindlin, Bill Loose/John Seely, Geordie Hormel, Spence Moore.
First Aired: week of Sept. 28, 1959 (rerun, week of May 23, 1960).
Episode: Huckleberry Hound Show K-029.
Plot: A jewel thief disguises himself as a bear and gets Yogi to protect him from sniffer dog Yowp.

Bare Face Bear marks the final on-screen appearance of Yowp, and the fact that this enjoyable character was never used in a cartoon again shows the significant change that took place in the Yogi Bear series.

During Yogi’s first year on the air in the 1958-59 TV season, the happy-go-lucky bear was placed in a variety of situations by the writing team of Joe Barbera, Dan Gordon and Charlie Shows. He was in spot gag cartoons (involving a freeway and a fish). He was the helpmate of weaker creatures (including an eaglet, several young boys and a little fox). And he was a pain to rangers around a park (occasionally named Jellystone), rarely involving food and never involving Ranger Smith. Boo Boo appeared only on occasion.

That started changing in the second year when Shows left the studio and the bulk of the writing seems to have been entrusted to Warren Foster, formerly of Warner Bros. The generic rangers were merged into one character, Smith. Yogi displayed a desire for pic-a-nic baskets. But he still got mixed up in non-Jellystone adventures, including a couple of funny ones involving fairy tale characters. And he was also placed in one cartoon where, for a third time, he matched wits with a dog that only said “yowp!” with no Boo Boo or ranger in sight.

Evidently, a conscious decision was made for the third season that Yogi should be shoved into a strict format, perhaps anticipating he would be getting his own show (The Yogi cartoons still aired on the Huckleberry Hound Show from September 1960 to January 1961, when the Yogi Bear Show, announced the previous October, finally debuted). Yogi became married to Jellystone Park, Ranger Smith was to be his permanent nemesis and Boo Boo was to be the voice of caution. And that’s what viewers got after the season’s first cartoon, a very funny, Ranger Smith-less fairy tale send-up. Having a format meant that each story didn’t need a set-up; regular viewers knew what the score was and the cartoon could get right into the action. And they also knew what they could expect every week when they tuned in. The decision turned out to be a huge success. It even spawned a feature film as the characters had a ready-made situation to jump into. But it also meant there was no more place in the Hanna-Barbera world for helping eaglets or rescuing little boys. Or a dog named Yowp. Yogi had a human nemesis and adding a tracker dog into the mix just wouldn’t work. To me, the Yogi Bear series lost something good when it became more restrictive but fans, even today, love the Yogi-Ranger-Boo Boo combination, so who am I to argue?

This final Yowp cartoon was animated by Gerard Baldwin during his first brief, and apparently unhappy, stop at Hanna-Barbera (in the biographical addendum in Keith Scott’s book The Moose That Roared, Baldwin doesn’t even mention the studio). He was soon snapped up by former UPA colleague Bill Hurtz to direct cartoons for Jay Ward. Baldwin had an unusual drawing style at times. In this cartoon, he balloons Yowp’s stomach in running cycle animation, and Yogi has a cleavaged snout and a little mouth tucked up in his face when in three-quarters view. Occasionally, the neck gets stretched.

For some reason, there are some extremely tight shots in this cartoon (see above). The layout man was Walt Clinton. Whether writer Warren Foster would have had the close-ups indicated on his storyboard or Clinton did it in his layout drawings, I don’t know, but it’s certainly unusual. I doubt Baldwin, as an animator, would have drawn the scenes that way on his own. You can tell Clinton’s at work here because of the collar-height ear and the bags under the eyes. Clinton went through a baggy period, especially on the Quick Draw McGraw Show.

The best-known bits in this cartoon are both variations of something found in old theatrical cartoons. The clueless western sheriff character drags the highly-intelligent Yowp by the tail reminding him “We’re after crooks. C-R-U-K-S.” The misspelling gag worked best in Jack-Wabbit and the Beanstalk (1943) where the giant tells Bugs Bunny “You think you’re pretty C-A-T-Smart, don’t you?” Then there’s the routine borrowed from the end of Tex Avery’s Ventriloquist Cat (1950), where the title character meows over and over at an annoyed dog, with the tone of his meows changing as the situation he’s in dawns on him. Yowp angrily yowps at the bad guy disguised as a bear. The bad guy disappears and is substituted with the sheriff, ticked off that Yowp has snared a bear and not a crook. Yowp’s expression goes from angry to hopeful to forlorn to sheepish over the span of 35 seconds as his yowps get quieter and farther apart, with Spencer Moore’s “Comedy Underscore” playing in the background, before the sheriff explodes. It could have been a static scene that played too long but it’s timed just right, and helped by Don Messick’s acting as the inimitable Yowp.

The plot’s set up pretty quickly. The cartoon opens with a long shot of a big, black, tail-finned car zooming along a mountain road. Cut to a closer shot of the gate to Jellystone. The car zips through it and stops at the edge of a cliff. A news announcer on the car radio tells us a thief has made off with a million dollars in jewels. Bill Hanna was no doubt happy to save money by having no animation for five seconds during a close-up on the drawing of the radio.

Naturally, the jewel thief is in the car. He picks up the story and tells the audience what he’s going to do. After kicking his car over the cliff as easy as kicking a bucket (and there’s no sound of the car dropping or crashing) he puts on a bear costume to “mingle with the bears until the heat’s off.”

The rest of the cartoon is similar in nature to the first Yowp cartoon, Foxy Hound-Dog. Yowp can easily see through the disguise while the sheriff (as opposed to the English hunter in the first cartoon) does not. The difference is even smarter-than-the-average-bear Yogi doesn’t clue in as he protects his new friend, abusing him in the process. And unlike the mute fox, the bad guy-as-bear speaks. So, there’s dialogue.

Crook: Listen, brother bear. I’m in a jam. You gotta help me.
Yogi: “Lend a Paw.” That’s the Code of the Bears. What kind of a jam? Blueberry, I hope. Nyea, hey, hey, hey!
Crook: Uh, eh, I only swiped one teeny peanut butter sand-a-wich. Without jelly.
Yogi: A peanut butter sand-a-wich? Why liberatin’ goodies from a pic-a-nic table is a bear’s per-rogative.
Crook: Yeah, that’s what I thought. Whatever you said.

Yogi shoves him in a cookie jar, under a stream, in a hollow tree, under a heavy boulder and then into a hollow log, as the bear outfit becomes rattier from the abuse. Baldwin’s Yogi looks fine in profile but odd when he faces in other positions.

It turns out the end of a the hollow log is over a cliff. The crook drops, with the bear suit snagging on a tree limb and ripping off. Yogi races to the bottom and catches the falling crook. Remarkably, he shows no surprise whatsoever that the bear really isn’t a bear. Did he know all along? If so, he sure doesn’t let the audience in on it (unlike when Warren Foster wrote for Tweety, who let the audience knew his innocence was a façade).

The cartoon ends like Foxy Hound-Dog, with Yowp crying in frustration. The sheriff still doesn’t realise Yowp was tracking the thief and gives Yogi all the credit. Frankly, Yowp should have bit him on the butt and chased him into the distance. A far more satisfying way to end an on-screen career.

Appropriately, when Yogi is running with the crook/bear, the soundtrack plays Jack Shaindlin’s “On the Run.” There’s a lot of Shaindlin’s music in this cartoon; it finishes with the button end from his “Recess.” There’s very little by Bill Loose; a couple of his “children’s” cues were popular the following season.

0:00 - Yogi Bear Sub Main Title Theme (Curtin-Shows-Hanna-Barbera).
0:24 - ZR-48 FAST MOVEMENT (Hormel) – Car speeds into Jellystone.
0:37 - bassoon and zig-zag strings (Shaindlin) – Crook listens to radio, ditches car, puts on bear suit, Yowp finds suitcase, Yogi welcomes “bear.”
2:00 - TC-301 ZANY WALTZ (Loose-Seely) – Yogi continues welcome, hides “bear” in cookie jar, Yogi talks to sheriff.
2:56 - LAF 10-7 GROTESQUE No 2 (Shaindlin) – Yowp yowps at Yogi, “bear” and Yogi look out cave entrance.
3:31 - LAF 2-12 ON THE RUN (Shaindlin) – Yogi runs away with “bear,” Yowp chases Yogi to stream.
4:08 - L-78 COMEDY UNDERSCORE (Moore) – Yowp yowps at Yogi, drags away, Yogi and “bear” zip from scene.
4:31 - LAF 2-12 ON THE RUN (Shaindlin) – Yogi runs with “bear,” skids to stop.
4:42 - LAF 7-12 FUN ON ICE (Shaindlin) – Yogi hides “bear” in tree, Yowp finds “bear.”
4:56 - L-78 COMEDY UNDERSCORE (Moore) – Bear head is substituted for sheriff’s head, Yowp keeps yowping, “C-R-U-K-S! Crooks!”
5:42 - LAF 5-20 TOBOGGAN RUN (Shaindlin) – Yogi runs with “bear,” hides him under rock, throws him through log, drops from air.
6:16 - ZR-48 FAST MOVEMENT (Hormel) – “I will save you!”, bear costume rips off, Yogi catches crook.
6:41 - LAF 10-7 GROTESQUE No 2 (Shaindlin) – “Caught you!” Sheriff criticises Yowp, Yowp cries.
7:06 - LAF 21-3 RECESS (Shaindlin) – Yowp cries. (two notes)
7:09 - Yogi Bear Sub End Title Theme (Curtin).


  1. Why, Yowp, I'm a bit more reviews? Anyway, glad to see all your ythree appearances reviewd. The sherriff mispronouncing words was son to be a longtime Fred Flintstone trademark ("O-W-T!" for Out in fourth season "Groom Gloom"; "N-y-s" for as another example,etc.)SC

  2. Really got me into watching these gems again on youtube..then reading after your review...its been a brilliant blog..

  3. The image of Yowp whimpering into the camera sums up how I feel right now. This blog has been my favorite web destination ever since the first review. Thanks for all the great information and entertaining reviews, Yowp!

  4. “The reviews began a couple of years ago with the first Yowp cartoon and will end with the last Yowp cartoon.”

    …Oh, Man! It’s kinda like when (small) Coyote finally caught the (to-him-giant-sized) Road Runner, at the end of that 1980 Jones cartoon… “NOW, what do I do?!”

    …Trails off, dragged by the tail, uttering some plaintive yowps!

    Thanks for YEARS of informative fun!

  5. Don Messick is amazing in the scene with the changing YOWPS and he was also the sheriff.

    Did YOWP mutate into Muttley?

    By the way script is kinda like ''Baby Buggy Bunny'',the "hide under this rock" bit was used in Daffy cartoon ''Tom Turk and Daffy''.

    1. I totally agree with Anon. I have always thought Don Messick showed his incredible voice acting skills in that thity second " Yowp " scene. From commanding to oops, I'm in trouble. What a talent!

  6. No, Yowp quietly went into retirement.

    Muttley was based on the Iwao Takamoto-designed dog in the Yogi Bear feature movie. He was given the snicker used by dogs in various Huck cartoons.

  7. All good things must come to an end, I guess. For what it's worth, as the sophisticated 3-year-old television viewer when Yogi's show debuted, I could feel something was going wrong as Season 1 moved into Season 2. The stories were getting more by-the-numbers and contrived, and whatever boost the series got from giving Yogi a set opponent to battle was fast disappearing (Ramger Smith being better defined allowed Foster and company to do a little bit more personality animation with him, but duevtobthe animation limitations, the personality had to be plot/dialog driven, especially as the little animated touches from Seasons 1-2 disappeared in the name of budget efficiency.

    Sometimes, you can get more personality out of a beaten-down, monotone world-weary Ranger than one stuck in plots that telegraph their direction. Chuck Jones was right in saying that having to do as many cartoons in a season as they used to do in 3-4 years, Foster and Maltese used up the material pretty quickly. But it was a fun ride while it lasted, and to be fair, there was still a few moments of creatiivity from the studio over the next few years (at least until Fred Silverman got is hands on Bill & Joe's story department).

  8. The other difference between 1 & 2 is Foster relied far more on dialogue than Barbera and Shows (though Shows, supposedly, was there solely *for* dialogue). Sometimes, the cartoons don't shut up. But dialogue's cheaper than action.
    The other thing is by season 3, the limited animation became even more limited and less interesting.

  9. "Yowp-Yowp" Dodsworth & HB-fans from the whole world,

    John Kricfalusi - who's fanatic for the Walter Clinton's artwork from the Hanna-Barbera cartoons from the 50s and 60s - should see this topic.

  10. Yeah, before Mugger, the dog in Hey, There, it's Yogi Bear!, there was Griswald, another snickering dog on Top Cat. It's funny how in the Missing Heir episode, he's bad and trying to do in Benny the Ball. In another episode, he's a police dog trying to keep T.C. in line. And he looks different, even though his frame's the same. Could he have reformed or could there have been two Griswalds?

  11. Yeah, before Mugger, the snickering dog in Hey, There, it's Yogi Bear!, there was Griswald, the snickering dog on Top Cat. It's funny, in the Missing Heir episode, he was a bad dog who tried to do in Benny, yet in a later episode, he was a police dog trying to keep T.C. in line. And he looks different, too, though his frame's the same. Could he have reformed or could there have been two Griswalds?

  12. The sheriff reminds me a lot of Yosemite Sam, too!

  13. Gérard Baldwin, who animated this Yogi Bear short, also worked with the legendary John Hubley, animating the short Herb Alpert & The Tijuana Brass Double Feature (1966), produced and written by John Hubley and his wife Faith, and directed by Hubley himself for Paramount Pictures, featuring three Herb Alpert's hits: Mexican shuffle, Spanish flea and Tijuana Taxi.