Saturday, 11 May 2013

Yogi Bear — Bareface Disguise

Produced and Directed by Joe Barbera and Bill Hanna.
Credits: Animation – Art Davis; Layout – Tony Rivera, Backgrounds – Dick Thomas; Written by Warren Foster; Story Director – Alex Lovy; Titles – Art Goble; Production Supervision – Howard Hanson.
Voice Cast: Yogi Bear, Narrator, Superintendent – Daws Butler; Boo Boo, Ranger Smith – Don Messick.
Music: Bill Loose-John Seely, Jack Shaindlin, Geordie Hormel, Spencer Moore.
First Aired: week of October 31, 1960 (rerun, week of March 6, 1961).
Episode: Huckleberry Hound Show K-029.
Plot: Ranger Smith disguises himself as a polar bear to get the goods on Yogi.

Art Davis had been in theatrical animation for more than 30 years before he headed over to Hanna-Barbera after a bitter break with Warner Bros. In this cartoon, he tries to adapt as best as he could to the limits of television animation and does his best. The expressions he gives the characters are basic but convey the emotions of the characters.

Here’s a good one, when it dawns on Yogi why Whitey the Polar Bear’s behaviour doesn’t add up.

And here’s Boo Boo being annoyed and trying to interrupt Yogi’s con job on Whitey. A simple expression but we know what Boo Boo’s thinking.

And here’s a slowed-down version of Boo Boo in shock and running to tell Yogi after thinking Whitey has swallowed Ranger Smith. The drawings are on twos. Artie had a specific way of drawing angular wide-open mouths on characters at H-B in some of his earliest cartoons. Nice balance by Boo Boo.

This cartoon’s a character piece as opposed to a gag-fest. Warren Foster doesn’t give anyone a lot of snappy one-liners; even Yogi’s rhyming phrases are kept to a minimum. It’s a simple battle of wits and Yogi comes out on top. There’s no need to punish him in this cartoon because he doesn’t do anything bad. It opens with Daws Butler as the narrator for a change (Don Messick has plenty to do as Ranger Smith) and a nice night-time background of Jellystone by Dick Thomas. The rounded tips of the bushes are at an angle and there are white and black outlines of trees in the distance. Cut to the Ranger Station where Ranger Smith is telling the superintendent on the phone that he has a sure-fire scheme to catch Yogi with a picnic basket. The superintendent wears his badge to bed. Smith’s scheme is to dress up in a bear costume and mingle with Yogi to catch the bear’s thievery. You can tell Tony Rivera’s the layout artist. Smith has little pipe-stem legs and 5 o’clock shadow lines.

Smith dresses up as a polar bear and walks into Yogi’s cave. The snoozing Yogi suddenly sits up. “Wake up, Boo Boo. It’s Opening Day! Hey, hey, hey, hey!” Uh, no, Yogi. It’s night. There’s even a full moon out. Now comes a long, humourless scene. Ranger Smith-as-Whitey tells how he’s come from the North Pole to learn how to live on picnic baskets in a national forest. Yogi is surprised that they know all about him. But then he reels off a list of all the rules that bears have to follow at Jellystone. That’s even though Yogi doesn’t follow any of the rules, and he’s just heard that bears at the North Pole know he doesn’t. So why does he say “check” as the Ranger begins to list each one? He doesn’t know yet that it’s Ranger Smith in a bear suit.

Ah, Yogi’s a crafty one. He reveals it in the next scene to Boo Boo after he asks Whitey to step outside, where it’s become daytime during their brief conversation. He was suspicious before Whitey even said anything because of his perma-smile and how he talks without moving his mouth. Nice suspicious look on Yogi’s face by Artie. The cave wall looks like chips have fallen off it; you can see the grey and blue-grey outlines that gives them their depth. I’m still working to see if this was something exclusive to Thomas’ backgrounds.

Outside, Ranger Smith lifts up the bear head to get some fresh air. Boo Boo sees it and panics, running to tell Yogi he saw Ranger Smith inside Whitey’s open mouth and thinks the polar bear has swallowed him. Ding! Yogi catches on to the Ranger’s con (hey, I can rhyme like Yogi, too! Hey, hey, hey!). He tells Boo Boo to be quiet as he pulls his own slick sell job, telling Whitey what a “brave, handsome woodsman” and great guy Ranger Smith is. Whitey tries to goad Yogi into stealing a sandwich from a nearby picnic basket (thus catching him in the act and allowing him to ship Yogi to the St. Louis Zoo). Instead Yogi goes into his patented phoney histrionics, like a character in a ‘30s Tex Avery travelogue. He can’t do it, he just can’t do it. “I can’t let the ranger down. He’s the best friend a bear ever had!” Yogi cries as he pounds the ground with his fists. Smith has had enough. He reveals that he’s really Whitey and Yogi reacts by “fainting.” Smith tells the bear he was only being tested and since he passed the test, he can have a pie from the picnic basket. Now Boo Boo finally clues in that “Whitey was Mr. Ranger all the time.” It seems to me Boo Boo’s usually more savvy than this.

The cartoon ends with the ranger force-feeding the bear, with a sneaky look from Yogi ending the cartoon (at least the superintendent doesn’t walk in on the ranger’s comfort-feeding like in “Do or Diet”).

The sound-cutter doesn’t seem all that concerned about the music; he changes cues in mid-sentence. There’s one brief snippet, joined in progress, when Boo Boo spots Ranger Smith inside Whitey and rushes into the cave to tell Yogi. I’m pretty sure it’s a Jack Shaindlin cue but I don’t remember hearing it in any other cartoon and don’t have a copy of it.

0:00 - Yogi Bear Sub Main Title Theme (Curtin-Shows-Hanna-Barbera).
0:28 - ZR-50 UNDERWATER SCENIC (Hormel) – Opening narration, Ranger on phone, holds polar bear suit.
1:19 - TC-432 HOLLY DAY (Loose-Seely) – “The first picnic basket he takes,” polar bear walks to Yogi’s cave, “Who’r you, Whitey?”
2:10 - TC-437 SHOPPING DAY (Loose-Seely) – “I’m a polar bear,” polar bear and Yogi talk, “Now who do I know…”
3:11 - LAF-27-6 UNTITLED TUNE (Shaindlin) – “And shoot off his mouth…”, Yogi talks to Boo Boo, Ranger lifts head on costume.
4:00 - horn and oboe music (Shaindlin?) – Boo Boo outside cave, talks to Yogi.
4:10 - LAF-10-7 GROTESQUE No 2 (Shaindlin) – Yogi stares at audience, Yogi cons Ranger as polar bear, picnic basket, “Get a sandwich. Go on.”
5:41 - L-75 COMEDY UNDERSCORE (Moore) – “Let’s see if you have your old cunning…”, Yogi hams it up, feints, Boo Boo finally cues in, “Have a bite to eat.”
6:46 - LAF-7-12 FUN ON ICE (Shaindlin) – “Oh, I don’t know, sir,” Ranger feeds Yogi.
7:10 - Yogi Bear Sub End Title theme (Curtin).


  1. Well, Yogi could be just getting up early for the opening day, even if it's still night.

    There's a lot of dimension in this episode.

    "Whitey's" comments about Yogi & Yogi's comments about Ranger Smith, although spoken with deception in mind, could be genuine compliments the Ranger and the Bear have for each other (Yogi does repeat 'the best friend a bear ever has!' line in "Slap-happy Birthday'). I suppose there is a part of Smith that wishes he was like Yogi, and a part of Yogi that wishes he was like Smith.

    Don Messick does some great work here. When "Whitey" says "He is?" to Yogi's remark about the Ranger, you can hear his Smith voice creeping out beside his disguised one. And then there is Boo Boo's "The Ranger is my friend!" It's Boo Boo's voice, but there is an anger to it.

    "Could I be wrong about Yogi?" Smith thinks to himself. Hmmm. Are you wrong that Yogi is a thief and a con? Nope. Are you wrong that Yogi doesn't care or respect you? Probably.

    Then again, I'm more in the 'Ranger Smith really does like Yogi' camp rather then the 'Ranger Smith thinks Yogi is the Antichrist' camp, so perhaps I'm looking in too much.

    I could think of a different ending. Yogi actually believes Whitey did eat the Ranger and confronts the "Bear" with revenge (in the kid friendly Hanna-Barbera way). Ranger Smith finds out his head piece is stuck and can't get it off. Running away from a PO'd Yogi and Boo Boo, he runs to the Ranger Station only to see his colleagues got informed by Yogi and Boo Boo about "Whitey's" actions and start shooting at him. And then the Bears confront "Whitey" again, commenting about what a fine guy the Ranger is while intending violence for the Bear that done him in. Eventually, after much slapstick, the mask comes off, and Yogi and Boo Boo bear-hug the bedraggled & beaten Smith. The Bears are ecstatic the Ranger is alive and well, while Smith's emotions are mixed between his injuries and his touched feelings about Yogi's regard for him.

  2. Yowp writes: “It seems to me Boo Boo’s usually more savvy than this.”

    Oh, I dunno… One of my all-time favorite bits with Boob is in “Oinks and Boinks”, when he says: “Why do you want the PIGS, Mister Wolf?

    This results in the Wolf asking the audience: “How SHELTERED a life can you lead?”, in response.

    I think Boo-Boo knew his way around the park and its rules, but may have been a bit more baffled when the world became any larger than that.

  3. Angmc...besides Boo-boo's slightly angry "The ranger is my friend" to Yogi, the big bear then adds to Boo Boo that the ranger is "everybody's friend" and the ending and other episodes verify it. And I agree on the ranger really thinking Yogi could be better than the anti-Christ exactly...why else would he be "just testing Yogi".Steve

  4. Well, Joe, he didn't know where Paris was in the fillet mignonny cartoon. Maybe you're right.
    AngMc, I can hear Bill Hanna sputtering about all the drawing your ending would take. Tony Benedict told me Alex Lovy had to modify his first storyboards to make the action more limited to be on budget. But you raise an interesting point about whether Yogi is sincere within his con job. I never thought about that; I took it at face value. But it's clear over the course of the series that the two really do like each other deep down, though the Ranger gets exasperated on a professional level because his authority is ignored or thwarted.

  5. While it may be a nice exploration of the Yogi-Ranger relationship and how Boo-Boo fits into it, I feel this cartoon is an extremely boring talkfest.

    On a totally unrelated note, I believe it's the last one to use 'Capital' music score.

    1. There's also "Love-Bugged Bear".Steve

  6. "Yowp-Yowp" Dodsworth,

    After this passage at Hanna-Barbera, Arthur Davis went to Universal Pictures/Walter Lantz to animate several shorts, among them, those ones which were directed by Sid Marcus (more exactly, the Woody Woodpecker and Chilly Willy shorts, between 1963 and 1965).

  7. We cannot forget that Arthur Davis and Tony Rivera worked, years after, at DePatie-Freleng.

  8. I always loved the bit when Yogi said, "I just don't trust anyone who's smiling all the time, and talks without moving his mouth!" as he imitates the polar bear mask's expression.
    Though there have been other instances where a character wears a similar disguise that DOES have a rather expressive mask, and even that is actually something that can happen in real life outside of cartoons :P