Saturday, 10 August 2013

Augie Doggie — Treasure Jest

Produced and Directed by Bill Hanna and Joe Barbera.
Credits: none; Layout – Dick Bickenbach, Backgrounds – Bob Gentle, Story – Mike Maltese, Story Direction – Alex Lovy, Titles – Art Goble, Production Supervision – Howard Hanson.
Voice Cast: Doggie Daddy, Roger – Doug Young; Augie, Captain Plasma, Roger’s wife, sailor, captain – Daws Butler.
Music: Phil Green, Jack Shaindlin, Harry Bluestone-Emil Cadkin, unknown.
Episode: Quick Draw McGraw M-038, Production J-117.
First Aired: 1961.
Plot: A parrot teaches Doggie Daddy how to be a pirate.
(Note: dubs of this cartoon are circulating on-line with a 1959 title card. It belongs to another cartoon).

Jokes about Confederate money were still commonplace when this cartoon was made, almost 100 years after the start of the American Civil War. The impression I got was as a kid when this cartoon aired is the countryside in the U.S. was littered with the stuff. That may have been the case, but the gag was that all those mounds of bills were absolutely worthless. And that’s the gag which ends this cartoon.

Mike Maltese draws on some old favourites of his to come up with a nice little story. We get a string of Wile E. Coyote/failure gags. There’s the proof-through-quizzing routine featuring far-too-obvious, but wrong, answers, like Maltese used in the Quick Draw McGraw cartoon “Treasure of El Kabong.” And Doggie Daddy favours us with silly words and phrases we don’t expect.

The short opens with a pan across Augie’s cluttered bedroom. Bob Gentle’s fussy angles and warps look quite different from his literal pastel-coloured homescapes at MGM 20 years earlier. The swirling trees in the background are the same he drew in “Plutocrat Cat.”

I like the little talking-to-the-camera bit in this scene. Doggie Daddy shouts “Oh, Augie, my boy!” then gives an aside to himself—“Who’s never around when I want him”—and continues, “Where are ya?” Augie answers: “Here I am, dear old dad,” then turns to the camera and says as an aside to us “Who never knows where to find me.” Augie’s carrying a pick and a shovel and quickly explains why. He has a pirate friend who’ll tell him where there’s buried treasure. A parrot with a blue pirate hat. Maltese has named him “Captain Plasma” which, I can only presume, is a pun on Errol Flynn’s swashbuckling “Captain Blood.” This situation is concerning to Doggie Daddy, who gets out the “child psy-co-co-logical book.”

Fade to the next scene, as Daddy reads the index that Maltese has filled with entries of escalating improbability. “Beatin’ up on kid brothers. Paintin’ the cat blue. Invitin’ crocodiles for tea. Ah, here it is! Boys hangin’ around with pirate parrots.” The ridiculous theory in the book: “Sometimes, a boy shows his gratitude to his dad by bringin’ him a treasure, which only a pirate parrot can help him find.” His book-reading is interrupted by counting outside. Daddy zooms to the window in a rare (for 1960) piece of smear animation. There’s the sound of digging.

Daddy: Augie, wait! You’re ruinin’ my night-bloomin’ nasterniums, (turns to audience) not to mention my spring-bloomin’ avunculars.

Daddy walks to a hole in the ground. Augie pops up his head. “Oh, the shame of it! Mine own male parent prefers nasteriums to pieces of eight.” Daddy relents when Augie and parrot decide to go hunting on Treasure Island instead. The cartoon’s half over.

Cut to a bunch of holes with no treasure in them. “If I don’t do somethin’ soon,” says Daddy, “My yard will look like somethin’ to throw old razor blades in.” Huh? Maltese comes up with a better line when Daddy emerges wearing a pirate hat. “Well, If you can’t lick ‘em, join ‘em. Then ya can lick ‘em.” The parrot is sceptical that Daddy’s a pirate. Daddy demands to be quizzed.

Parrot: All right, now. Name the Seven Seas.
Daddy: Ha, that’s easy. 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7.
Parrot: All right. What’s a hatch?
Daddy: A hatch is what a chicken does to an egg.
Parrot: And me final question—what’s a Jolly Roger?
Daddy: A happy fellow named Roger. What else?
Augie: Hurray. You’ve passed 100 per cent, Seaworthy Dad.

Ah, but now Daddy has to pass the pirate physical. “What do I have to do?” Daddy asks, then turns to the audience, “A question I’m sure I’ll be sorry I asked.”

Test No. 1: Walking the plank. Daddy’s on a board sticking out a second storey window. The parrot stabs him with a sabre. Down he goes into a barrel of water. Ho hum.
Test No. 2: Boarding an enemy vessel. This gag’s better because Maltese turns it into a running gag. Daddy swings from one of those Hanna-Barbera ropes that doesn’t seem to be attached to anything. In his best Robin Hood Daffy impression, he smashes into a tree on his property line. He comes down on the other side of the fence where his neighbours, a husband and wife, are resting in lounge chairs. I like how Augie and Daddy are surrounded by humans in their neighbourhood, who don’t think anything of the fact they live next to a pair of dogs.

Wife: Roger, I do believe there is a pirate hanging from our sycamore tree.
Daddy: Heh, heh. Have you read Treasure Island lately?

The camera shakes and Daddy’s head crashes through the fence, sticking out in his own yard.

Augie: Who did it, dad?
Daddy: It was that Jolly Roger I was tellin’ you about.

Test No. 3 – Sailing the bouncing main in search of swag. Daddy’s on a make-shift sailboat, made from a dolly with a brookstick for a mast. The parrot shoves him down a hill. He then rolls down a city street, passing the same skyscrapers eight times. Cut to a pier. Daddy rolls off it and into the ocean. He’s spotted by a naval shift which blasts him at close range.

The scene jumps back to the Daddy back yard. Daddy returns with only some ruffled fur. But while he was gone, Augie and the parrot found a treasure chest “filled to the gills with bills.” “Jumpin’ government mint sauce!” exclaims Daddy, who takes a close look at the green cash and realises there’s only one thing that can be done with it. Cut to the final scene where there’s a quick pan across Augie’s bedroom. “After all,” catchphrases dear old dad. “How many boys are so rich, they can paper their walls with money? Confederate money, dat is.”Their treasure is worthless. But Daddy laughs at the end. It’s not like he lost anything.

The sound cutter uses few cues in this one. We get the full Jack Shaindlin cue with the skipping strings, including the little introduction. And the symphonic sounding piece with a string section, which could be by Louis De Francesco from the Sam Fox library, gets a little extra tacked on to stretch it out.

0:00 - Augie Doggie Main Title theme (Hanna-Barbera-Curtin).
0:25 - GR-65 BUSH BABY (Green) – Pan shot across bedroom, Augie-parrot scene, Daddy reads psychological book.
2:00 - jaunty bassoon and skippy strings (Shaindlin) – Parrot counts, backyard scene.
3:27 - CB-89A ROMANTIC JAUNT (Cadkin-Bluestone) – Augie in hole, Daddy answers pirate questions.
4:47 - light symphonic strings (?) – Walk the plank test, rope swinging scene, makeshift ship scene, explosion.
6:19 - EM-107D LIGHT MOVEMENT (Green) – Augie and Daddy in backyard, Daddy looks at money, “Confederate money, dat is.”
7:05 - GR-79 CUSTARD PIE CAPERS SHORT BRIDGE No 2 (Green) – Doggie Daddy laughs.
7:10 - Augie Doggie End Title theme (Curtin).


  1. Apartment buildings in New York used to have slots in their bathrooms - usually in the medicine cabinet, for depositing used razor blades (where they went is anyone's guess, but our apartment had had one in each bathroom). Given Mike's NYC upbringing, and the old Gillette Razor Blades commercials Warner Bros. did in the 1950s featuring Sharpie the Parrot and his "How are you fixed for blades?" tag line, that might have been the thought process that went into coming up with Doggie Daddy's aside.

    1. I had a feeling it'd been something like that!

  2. To add to the mystery about the razor blades remark, "Let's Take a Walk Around the Block," a 1934 song by Harold Arlen and Ira Gershwin, features the lyrics:

    You're just the companion
    I want at Grand Canyon
    For throwing old blades down the rock.

    Was throwing old razor blades in outdoor locales a pastime at some point in the early part of the 20th century? Is that the source of Maltese's now-oddball line?

  3. Cool postings! I was wondering, have you access to old exposure sheets from these shows? Just out of curiosity, since I write x-sheets for a living, I'd like to see some from the old days that were used for cartoons I watched as a kid.

  4. I wish I did Swinton. I've never seen one for the first HB shows and don't know if today's corporate owners even kept them.

  5. Given the lack of the proper opening titles for this cartoon, the animator is a mystery. I can usually identify most animators of most pre-1963 H-B cartoons provided they contribute to multiple cartoons. But not in this case- at least based upon the stills. (Most Augie shorts had been available on Youtube until recently.) My uneducated guess is that it's Brad Case, LaVerne Harding or even Paul Sommer, who receives credit for one Quick Draw cartoon from the same era.

  6. Dick "Bick" Bickenbach, who did the design and the layouts from this Augie Doggie episode, would be involved, at this season, in The Flintstones.
    He did the layouts and the designs for some episodes from the 1st sesaon of this series, such as: At the races, The Golf Champion and The Snorkasaurus Haunters.