Saturday, 1 December 2012

Augie Doggie — Let’s Duck Out

Produced and Directed by Bill Hanna and Joe Barbera.
Credits: Animation – Virgil Ross, Layout – Paul Sommer, Backgrounds – Dick Thomas, Written by Mike Maltese, Story Director – Alex Lovy, Titles – Art Goble, Production Supervision – Howard Hanson.
Voice Cast: Augie Doggie – Daws Butler; Doggie Daddy – Doug Young; Duck – Red Coffey.
Music: Phil Green, Jack Shaindlin, Harry Bluestone/Emil Cadkin.
Episode: Quick Draw McGraw Show M-035, Production J-112.
First Aired: 1961.
Plot: An orphan duck horns in on Augie and Doggie Daddy’s skating party.

The Warner Bros. cartoon studio provided a lot of permanent and casual staff for Hanna-Barbera in and around 1960. Before the Quick Draw McGraw Show got into the story stage in 1959, Bill and Joe grabbed Warners’ storymen Mike Maltese and Warren Foster, layout artist Bob Givens and background painter Dick Thomas (the latter two from the Bob McKimson unit). But Jerry Eisenberg, an assistant animator at Warners, recalled how he and animator Ken Harris came over to H-B and did piecework when the studio was in down-time. I suspect Virgil Ross did the same thing, as his name is on the credits of Let’s Duck Out even though he was still employed at Warners at the time, unless there was a brief resignation or layoff I don’t know about.

Ross was another veteran of 1930s animation. He applied at Disney in 1930 and couldn’t get a job. So he went to work for Charles Mintz’s Krazy Kat studio which had just moved to Los Angeles from New York. His next stop was at Ub Iwerks’ studio as an in-betweener, and then he moved to Walter Lantz. After Tex Avery left Lantz and was handed a unit by Leon Schlesinger on the Warners lot in 1935, Ross joined him. He stayed with the unit when Bob Clampett took it over in 1941 but shortly was transferred to another part of the building where he coped with the demands and shouts of Friz Freleng for the rest of his time at the studio, almost 20 years.

By all accounts (though maybe not some of Friz’s) Ross was a fine draughtsman. And in what seems to have been his sole entry in the Augie series, he draws the not-quite-Yakky Doodle very attractively. Certainly he was up to the rigours of TV animation as he drew 25 to 30 feet a week of full animation at Warners.

Paul Sommer came up with the layouts here. I like the red sports convertible he designed for Doggie Daddy. But I wonder if he’s the one responsible for changing the proto-Yakky’s colour to green in this cartoon. Dick Thomas is the background artist and provides some pleasant snow-dusted trees.

The Hollywood Reporter of April 11, 1960 reveals: Red Coffee and Jean Vander Pyl have been set for starring roles opposite Daws Butler in "Let’s Duck Out" episode of "Augie Doggie" series produced by Hanna-Barbera. It appears there was a re-write of the story because Vander Pyl isn't heard in this one.

This cartoon isn’t one of Mike Maltese’s finest hours. It was put into production late in the 1960-61 season (Maltese’s credit is “Written by” instead of “Story” like at the start of the season) and Maltese either was worn out or uninspired by the cutsey-wutsey duck that Bill and Joe loved and were about to put into a series. He gets in the standard catchphrases. Augie has to have some kind of moniker for his dad. In this one it’s “Olympic-calibre father of mine.” Daddy has to fit in his “If there’s one thing I can’t stand, it’s…” line. It’s “a hitch-hikin’ duck.” And Daddy has to end the cartoon with his “After all, how many…” question. We get “families have a genuine quack-quack clock in the house?” I wish I could say Maltese came up with some really clever stuff in between but there’s not an awful lot. In fact, he re-uses the “endless drinking” gag he put in “Gone With the Ducks” the previous season (which was borrowed from a Yogi/Duck cartoon the season before that). The only difference is it’s milk in this cartoon, not water.

The cartoon starts with Daddy and Augie picking up the hitchhiking duck while on their way to an ice pond, where Dear Old Dad intends to teach his son winter sports. The proto-Yakky may be too “small and puny” to fly south for the winter but he makes up for it intelligence, and demonstrates it with a math lesson. “Five and five is sixty-seven,” he announces. He spouts another equation, but Red Coffey’s duck voice cracks and it’s tough to decipher what he’s saying (by contrast, Jimmy Weldon as the later Yakky had excellent diction and a more expressive delivery).

The trio arrives at a frozen lake. That’s as far as Daddy is driving. But like in the other cartoons, the obsessively needy duck won’t go away and invents a reason to hang around. In this cartoon, he pretends to have a cold. Then after glugging down Daddy’s thermos of hot milk, he forlornly reveals he has no mommy or daddy (at least in this cartoon, he doesn’t tearfully wail about it) and suggests Doggie Daddy adopt him. Maltese comes up with a pun. “That’s a peachy idea,” Augie feels. “One peach is enough,” responds the furrow-browed Daddy. “A pair I couldn’t stand.” A pair of what, Daddy? There’s only one duck in this cartoon. The self-pitying duck walks away, vowing he’ll never speak to Daddy again. Of course, he’s full of it. The duck squawks away in English through the whole cartoon.

We’re at the cartoon’s half-way point. Daddy shows off his skating prowess. “A Figure Eight the hard way. A five and a four.” He crashes on the ice on his stomach instead. Then he fails to duplicate the duck’s barrel-jumping by crashing into the barrels. But he can still walk, he tells his son, before passing out face-first into the ice. The helpful duck goes to pour water on him, but the water’s turned into a block of ice. The best line of the cartoon’s ahead. It’s time to play ‘Snowball.’ Dad puts the duck in a snowball and rolls it down the hill. The ball collects more snow and becomes bigger. Just like a rock in a Wile E. Coyote cartoon Maltese wrote, the huge snowball rolls up the the side of a mountain and flies through the air. “All of a sudden, I have a feelin’ it’s gonna snow.” Crash!

The next “game”—an attempt to have the duck slide 100 miles away—suddenly fails when the pre-Yakky falls through a hole in the ice and he’s too puny to swim. Cut to a shot of Augie running, holding the duck in a cube of ice. The cube is put in a frying pan over a campfire on the snow which melts the cube (but not the snow) and the duck can be seen in the ice water-filled pan scrubbing his back. Quick, Daddy! Now’s your chance for a fried duck dinner that’ll end the Yakky series before it can ever start. But no! Instead we cut to the final scene where Daddy has found a use for the “useless” duck—as a substitute for a cuckoo in a clock. Thus ends the last of the three Doggie Daddy-meets-Duck cartoons. As for Virgil Ross, the worst was yet to come. He went to work at Filmation and on the early ‘70s Lantz theatricals. I’d rather watch Yakky, who at least had Fibber Fox (and Mike Maltese) going for him.

The sound cutter seems content to bang out a score in this one by letting cues run in their entirety through full scenes, though he’s edited a few bars into Jack Shaindlin’s “Mad Rush No. 3” to make it time out to the end of a scene. There are very few short cues used here. One of Shaindlin’s circus galops is back-timed to end with the cartoon but, for whatever reason, it begins toward the end of the cue and in the middle of a scene.

0:00 - Augie Doggie Main Title theme (Hanna-Barbera-Curtin).
0:24 - GR-155 PARKS AND GARDENS (Green) – Hitchhiking scene.
1:55 - GR-248 STREETS OF THE CITY (Green) – Milk drinking scene.
3:24 - jaunty bassoon and skippy strings (Shaindlin) – Figure 8/Barrel scene, Daddy faints.
4:33 - light symphonic strings (?) – “Do som’n’…”, ice bucket scene.
5:13 - GR-85 THE BRAVEST WOODEN SOLDIER BRIDGE No 1 (Green) – Duck in snowball, Daddy drops snowball down hill.
5:25 - LFU-117-3 MAD RUSH No 3 (Shaindlin) – Snowball rolls down hill, lands on Daddy.
5:47 - GR-457 DR QUACK SHORT BRIDGE No 1 (Green) – Daddy talks to duck, zooms him out of scene.
5:58 - fast circus chase music (Shaindlin) – Duck on ice, falls through hole, Augie carries duck in ice cube.
6:27 - CB-90 HAPPY HOME (Cadkin-Bluestone) – Duck in frying pan scene, two cuckoos.
6:57 - fast circus chase music (Shaindlin) – Third cuckoo, Daddy laughs.
7:08 - Augie Doggie End Title theme (Curtin).


  1. Oh, maaaan… First, no love for Charlie Shows, now no love for Yakky!

    The point of the Yakky cartoons, at least to me, was that he was SUPPOSED to be annoying (…and maybe you even WANTED him to be eaten, just to end the madness) and that the fun of the cartoons came from Fibber Fox, Chopper, and the great Alfy Gator – perhaps my all-time favorite H-B supporting character!


  2. Maltese probably got his "inspiration" for this cartoon from the 1960 Winter Olympics, which were held in Squaw Valley, Calif., and would have received a lot of publicity in the state that year.

    Even though Ross was a longtime Friz guy by now, a couple of the above shots, like Yakky's face ruffles while sliding on the ice or the smear-and-angles of him running past the highway sign, had a distinct mid-1960s Chuck Jones unit look to them. As with so many things about the production line, animators putting those little flourishes into their drawings would be completely weeded out of the production process at H-B by no later than the middle of the decade.

  3. Yakky's cartoons are far better when there is an actual threat against him, like Fibber and Alfy (or even, ahem, Yowp and his master back in '58) than when he's simply trying to be ingratiatingly cute with the other characters. Those are the fingernails-on-the-blackboard moments for me with the color-changing mallard throughout his run at MGM and H-B (and why I really like the endings Joe Barbera came up with for "Southbound Duckling" and "The Vanishing Duck").

    1. I agree, I always enjoyed Yakky's cartoons as they seemed to come across as sarcastic - 'OH MY GOODNESS! Isn't this duckling just the cutest thing ever?! Doesn't he make you want to throw up with his weetness?'


  4. Yeah, J.L., that sums it up. It's hard to get worked up about a character constantly wailing about his lot in life, cartoon after cartoon. Maltese must have realised that because it got downplayed in an awful hurry when Yakky got his own series. Fibber (I really like the one when he's on the phone to Whitney the Elephant) and Alfy are the best part.

  5. And now the metamorphosis of the annoying little ole duckling-wuckling from teal to yellow .. just like Yakky. (Also see {Pixie and Dixie/Mr. Jinks's third season "A Wise Quack", yet to be reviewed here.)

  6. It sounds like Yakky's other equation is "One and one is aught". (zero)

    Smooth-faced Yakky's cheek ruffles don't appear until arriving at the lake. Perhaps hanging on for dear life on the back of Daddy's speeding convertible brought out his feathery luster.

  7. HI Yowp,
    I always thought that when Doggy Daddy says punnily, "One peach is enough, a pear I couldn't stand" was inferring that he already had one kid and that a pair--two kids-- would be too much.
    This cartoon does have lots of funny things, such as the goofy looks on the dogs while the duck demonstrates his math prowess, and especially the *conk* when the frozen pail of water hits Doggie Daddy on the noggin.

  8. Dan beat me to it. That's what I figured Daddy meant with his pear of peaches crack.

  9. Thanks, guys. That makes sense to me.

  10. What record is GR-248 STREETS OF THE CITY (Green) from?

  11. Big City Suite No. 2, Doug. But it's on the Hi-Q L-27, EM-130B Light Activity.