Saturday 28 September 2013

Quick Draw McGraw — Ali-Baba Looey

Produced and Directed by Bill Hanna and Joe Barbera.
Credits: Animation – Dick Lundy; Layout – Walt Clinton; Backgrounds – Art Lozzi; Story – Mike Maltese; Story Director – Alex Lovy; Titles – Lawrence Goble; Production Supervision – Howard Hanson.
Voice Cast: Narrator, Quick Draw, Baba Looey, Snuffles, Deputy, Dodge City Sheriff, Wichita Sheriff, other town sheriffs – Daws Butler, Slinkerton deputy; Shadow Bandit, Laramie Sheriff, Abilene Sheriff, other town sheriffs, Slinkerton Agent – Don Messick.
Music: Jack Shaindlin, Phil Green, Geordie Hormel, Harry Bluestone-Emil Cadkin.
Episode: Quick Draw McGraw Show M-031, Production J-89.
First aired: week of May 8, 1961.
Plot: The Slinkerton Detective Agency enlists Quick Draw and Snuffles to find the Shadow Bandit.

Was this cartoon a case of Mike Maltese coming up with a pun for a title and then building something on it? “Ali-Baba Looey” seems a little odd at first because you’d expect to have Quick Draw in Arabia. But the connection involves the part of the plot where the Shadow Bandit says “Open Sesame” to make the stone door to his secret cave rise to allow him in. You know, “Open Sesame” as in “Ali Baba and the Forty Thieves.”

Of course, all that “open” and “close” stuff can’t fill a full seven minutes. So Maltese brings in one of the funniest cartoon dogs of all time, Snuffles. And he takes up about a third of the short with a running gag with the kind of word-turnaround you’d expect in one of his cartoons.

Art Lozzi gives us a really nice background to open the cartoon. I can’t clip it together from screen grabs without ruining the colour. Lozzi uses a palette of reds in the sky behind the street welcoming us to Laramie, Wyoming. The camera pans past a gunsmith, livery stable, hotel and cafĂ© before stopping at a bank. Incidentally, the TV Western series “Laramie” was into its second season on NBC when this cartoon aired.

Daws Butler gets the opening narration job for a change in this cartoon, explaining the Shadow Bandit is on a bank robbing spree. For the first part of the cartoon, we only see him in silhouette.

Note the background gag in the frame above. There’s a money bag for dollars and one for cents.

Lawmen lose the bandit’s trail at the foot of a sheer cliff. The narrator tells us it leaves the sheriff “perplexed and puzzled.”

Deputy: Where could he go, sheriff?
Sheriff: Don’t ask me. I’m perplexed and puzzled.

That’s the running gag. After each hold-up, the sheriff turns to the camera and tells us he’s perplexed and puzzled. Finally, the pay-off. After the last robbery, a crowd of lawmen with collar-length ears showing they were designed by Walt Clinton tells us “We’re all perpluxed and pezzled.”

Finally, the Slinkerton Detective Agency sends for Quick Draw to solve the mystery. Quick Draw’s odd logic determines “this town” is where the bandit will strike next because all the towns he’s robbed spell “GIVE” on a map and “he’s got to come back and dot the ‘i’.” That’s even though the letters are all capitals.

The rest of the scene is taken up with Snuffles going into his familiar ecstasy act after being fed a dog biscuit. The wavy and mouth and beady eyes look like George Nicholas’ work, but Dick Lundy is the credited animator on this and you can tell he worked on it (there’s some rolling-head dialogue earlier in the short), so I’ll presume Lundy did this. The Snuffles animation was re-used in “Scooter Rabbit” later that season.

Quick Draw tells Snuffles he won’t give him another biscuit until he catches the crook. Snuffles, as usual, grumbles under his breath (“cheapskate” is one of the words that’s intelligible) then pulls Baba Looey along with him as he gallops after the crook. I love Quick Draw’s line: “Hold on thar, Shadow Bandit, Snuffles and Baba Looey! In that order.” Snuffles only screeches to a halt when Baba Looey tells him he’ll get no more biscuits. Baba flies over the dog and crash-lands on the dirt, then lets out a string of faux Spanish, just like Ricky Ricardo used to do when he was angry at Lucy. Ricky’s Spanish was real; Daws engages in gibberish for Baba, though we get the words “enchilada” and “Tijuana.”

Baba sees the bandit (who is now fully visible) go in the cave and after Quick Draw arrives, tries to open it with the same secret words the bandit used. It’s reminiscent of the scenes in one of Maltese’s best-known cartoons, “Ali Baba Bunny” (released by Warner Bros. in 1957) where Hassan tries “Open Saddlesoap” and “Open Saskatchewan.” Baba’s are weaker because he uses Mexican clichĂ© words but accidentally blurts out “says me” and that works. Quick Draw’s are funnier after the bandit closes the entrance; I particularly like “Open Mustard Plaster” because who knows how he came up with it.

Quick Draw feeds Snuffles a biscuit (with reused animation) but demands three of them after the bandit points a gun at him. Quick Draw acquiesces, Snuffles lets out a Tarzan yell then crashes through the closed stone entrance to capture the crook. Quick Draw immediately hands Snuffles the full $10,000 reward (how’d he get it so fast?). Snuffles doesn’t realise he could buy a lot of biscuits with it. Instead, he wants one now and flings back Quick Draw’s offering with his contempt, grumbling again; Lundy uses different drawings than the first time. Baba tags out the cartoon, as usual, but it’s an obvious line without even a pun: “Money isn’t everything to Snuffles, that’s for sure.” Maltese locked himself into a formula ending cartoons with Baba Looey because he ran out of clever lines for the burro.

The sound cutter tends to use short snippets of music in this cartoon; one cue lasts only four seconds. I don’t know where the tinkling bell music comes from that you hear when Snuffles comes back down to earth after eating a dog biscuit.

0:00 - Quick Draw McGraw Sub Main Title theme (Curtin).
0:15 - Oh, Susannah (?) – Narration over start of opening pan over Laramie.
0:23 - ZR-94 CHASE (Hormel) – Gunfire, robbery, silhouette rides.
0:45 - GR-454 THE ARTFUL DODGER BRIDGE No 1 (Green) – Sheriff and deputy approach closed cave.
1:03 - EXCITEMENT UNDER DIALOGUE (Shaindlin) – Dodge City shooting, Abilene, Wichita, “perpluxed and puzzled.”
1:45 - GR-348 EARLY MORNING (Green) – Outside of Slinkerton office.
1:50 - GR-472 HICKSVILLE (Green) – Quick Draw dialogue with Slinkerton man, Snuffles leaps into air.
2:57 - tinkling music (?) – Snuffles lands.
3:02 - PG-160G LIGHT MOVEMENT (Green) – “He sure loves..” gunfire.
3:08 - tick tock/flute music (Shaindlin) – Head shakes, no dog biscuit, Snuffles dashes away.
3:35 - fast circus chase music (Shaindlin) – Baba pulled off camera, Snuffles stops, Shadow bandit goes into cave, Quick Draw slides into scene, “What cave?”
4:28 - GR-99 THE DIDDLECOMB HUNT (Green) – “Wait, I show you,” Baba accidentally opens cave, “Your mysterious getaways…”
4:55 - fast circus chase music (Shaindlin) – Quick Draw zips out of scene, crashes into cave, lands.
5:02 - CRAZY GOOF (Shaindlin) – “Open Mississippi…” Snuffles eats biscuit, leaps into sky.
5:27 - tinkling music (?) – Snuffles lands.
5:32 - CB-86A HIDE AND SEEK (Cadkin-Bluestone) – “Hurry it up will ya?” Snuffles dashes off.
5:36 - ‘FIREMAN’ (Shaindlin) – Snuffles gallops into cave, eats dog biscuits, Tarzan yell, Snuffles on bandit.
6:27 - GR-346 FIRST BUDS (Green) – Quick Draw offers reward, Snuffles throws bag of money back at Quick Draw.
6:45 - LAF-6-16 Sportscope-ish (Shaindlin) – Snuffles grumbles, Baba tag line, iris out.
7:00 - Quick Draw McGraw Sub End Title theme (Curtin).

Wednesday 25 September 2013

You Can Meet Huckleberry Hound

Everyone wants to meet celebrities. It’s a little difficult when the celebrities are cartoon characters but someone figured out a way around that, probably in the silent days of Felix the cat—get people to dress up as the characters.

To be honest, it seems kind of silly. You know someone in a six-foot costume isn’t really Huckleberry Hound. Huckleberry Hound is something drawn and on a screen. But I suppose if one can accept the fact a blue dog can drive a car, talk to you and be a knight in the Middle Ages, one can accept some guy in a costume as a character. And, like I say, everyone wants to meet celebrities.

So it was that Screen Gems decided cartoons, comic books and merchandise wasn’t enough. They had to put Huck and Yogi (and later Quick Draw McGraw and others) out on the road. They eventually hit the county fair circuit with a human emcee, Eddie Alberian, with professional mimes in $800 outfits dancing and singing to the tape recorded dialogue of Daws Butler.

Here’s a syndicated newspaper story, unbylined, published in the
Binghamton Press of May 21, 1960. The Carlo Vinci drawing accompanied the story.

That TV Hound Sure Gets Around
Hollywood—Two of this year's most widely travelled TV personalities are a blue dog with a deep southern drawl and an oversize bear sporting a pork-pie hat.
The pair, Huckleberry Hound and Yogi Bear, have managed to accept 73 invitations since last August and still show up weekly on the Huckleberry Hound television series.
What makes this possible is the fact that they're cartoon characters, the creations of Joe Barbera and Bill Hanna.
"In the past eight months we've booked Huck and Yogi into department stores, shopping centers, football and baseball games, concerts, parades, factories and exhibitions," says Ed Justin of Screen Gems, who's in charge of the personal appearances.
"They are scheduled for the Memorial Day '500' Race at the Indianapolis Speedway," he added. "Fans will be relieved to hear that Huck does not plan to drive in the race."
Confronted with so many playdate opportunities for the cartoon stars, without a body to deliver, Justin had special Huck and Yogi costumes made, at a cost of several hundred dollars apiece. The costumes are filled by local heat-and claustrophobia-resistant actors.
What led to the travels of the ubiquitous dog was the unusually widespread popularity of the Huckleberry Hound show that emerged soon after it went on the air. Some of the kudos came from rather far afield.
In Hull, England, the traditional Jazz and Cycling Society changed its name to the Yogi Bear Club, and within a few months the membership doubled.
Huckleberry Hound was invited to play for either side at the Stanford-Washington football game, but the offer was declined on the ground that no helmet would fit him. He wound up a cheer leader for both teams.
The 57th Battalion of the Duke of Wellington's Regiment at Huddersfield, England, asked for permission to make Yogi Bear the official mascot of the outfit.
In Tucson, Ariz., an official questionnaire given to all police officers included the question: "Do you watch Huckleberry Hound on television?"
In West Seneca, N. Y., an organization known at Machemer's Chestnut Lodge Yogi Bear Appreciation Society was founded.
Seven scientists at the White Sands Proving Grounds in New Mexico requested an El Paso (Texas) television station to show Huckleberry Hound at a later hour since they were too busy working on missile projects during its air time.
The scholarly Yale Alumni Bulletin made a survey of undergraduate viewing tastes and revealed that Huckleberry Hound was among the four top programs with Yale men.
And the world's newest geographical designation is an Island off Antarctica named Huckleberry Hound, after the TV, cartoon hero. The island, located at 70° 40' West, was discovered a short time ago by the U. S. S. Glacier, an Icebreaker assigned to explore Bellingshausen Sea, the last uncharted area of the vast frozen continent.

As you can see by the story, the Huckleberry Hound Show was an almost-instant fad after it debuted. At the time, television comedy consisted mainly of laugh-tracked domestic sitcoms and old radio stars hosting variety shows. The Huck show characters were new, wise-cracked to the audience and (fitting the leisurely, suburban 1950s) not too manic or goofy; they were in (generally) adult situations behaving like adults. It’s no wonder parents were attracted to the early shows just as much as kids.

Saturday 21 September 2013

Augie Doggie — It’s a Mice Day

Produced and Directed by Bill Hanna and Joe Barbera.
Credits: Animation – Carlo Vinci; Layout – Paul Sommer; Backgrounds – Fernando Montealegre; Story – Mike Maltese; Story Director – Alex Lovy; Titles – Art Goble; Production Supervision – Howard Hanson.
Voice Cast: Doggie Daddy, Filabert – Doug Young; Augie Doggie, Cat – Daws Butler.
Music: Phil Green; Jack Shaindlin, Spencer Moore, Harry Bluestone-Emil Cadkin.
Episode: Quick Draw McGraw Show M-028, Production J-83.
First Aired: week of October 30, 1960.
Plot: Augie deals with a sick mouse friend that a cat wants to catch.

A white cat running from Augie Doggie and his broom slams right into Doggie Daddy, then tries to make pleasant small talk to avoid being clobbered.

Cat: Oh, you look awfully familiar, sir. Didn’t we meet in Cincinnati?
Daddy (to audience): If dere’s one thing I can’t stand, it’s a wise-guy cat from Cincinnati.

And, with that, Daddy drops him into the garbage can.

It’s the best exchange in this cartoon. Mike Maltese tries hard with the mouse at the centre of everything but the character is just too wimpy and needy to be likeable. It’s not that he’s preying on Augie and Doggie Daddy with an act; he’s just a wuss. Maybe the two of them got sick of him, too, because this is the only cartoon he appeared in.

Carlo Vinci’s your animator in this one and his tell-tale signs are all here. Here’s the wide-mouth on the cat.

And diving exits off screen.

And the big row of upper teeth.

It’s the only Augie cartoon that Carlo worked on after the first season of The Quick Draw McGraw Show (1959-60). In fact, he only animated this and one Snooper and Blabber cartoon during the remaining two seasons. Perhaps he was too busy with The Flintstones. This was the second Augie put into production in the second season.

This cartoon features the boy genius version of Augie. He’s mixing with his test-tubes at the start of the cartoon when he tells Filabert, the mouse who lives in a hole in their wall, to help himself to some cheese. “It’s good to have neighbours with miles and miles of heart,” says the wimpy mouse. Watching all this is a white cat with the voice Daws Butler later gave to Fibber Fox and he had used in several other cartoons. To sum up the scene, the cat fails to pounce on the mouse, who runs into its hole. Broom-wielding Augie chases the cat, who runs into Daddy carrying a snack. Daddy drops him in the garbage.

“Alas, Augie, it was too much for me,” laments Filabert. “I’ve been forced to take to my little bed. I’m not too strong, you know. The pathetic mouse groans that he wish Augie could come into his hole and feed him “some strength-giving hot cheese soup.” I’d tell him to get a life, but genius Augie instead drinks what he’s been mixing (four litres of decalcitrating alum and one of tetrahetra) and shrinks, enabling him to take cheese from “generous dad…who shares and shares alike” to Filabert in his bed. “Observant dad, who’s more than a little flabbergasted” then notices Augie has shrunk and after failing to convince him to come out of Filabert’s hole, shrinks himself.

The white cat is watching all this through the window and decides he can take advantage of the situation, being bigger than everyone now. He bashes Daddy onto the floor with his tail (“What a catastrophe!” says, Daddy, correctly pronouncing a word his inspiration, Jimmy Durante, never could). The shrunken dog hides in the barrel of his hunting rifle, which the cat fires, and Daddy rides the bullet into a bottle containing a ship. The cat then walks over to the bottle wearing an old British admiral’s hat and engages in some “Mr Christian” dialogue just for the sake of it. Unfortunately, he doesn’t realise the ship has a working cannon, which Daddy fires at the cat’s face (“That’s a heck of a way to treat an admiral,” is the singed cat’s verbal reaction).

The next scene finds Doggie Daddy being chased by the cat, who tilts his arms in a four-drawing run cycle (one per frame). Augie comes to the rescue by drinking something to grow to normal size (Filabert moans he “can manage somehow” with Augie gone) and then cons the cat to drink some of the shrinking potion. Unfortunately the cat’s holding a firecracker, which explodes after he shrinks. Augie vanquishes the enemy.

The final scene has Augie delivering “some hot liver soup to a sick friend.” “Dear old inquisitive but sensitive-to-others’-pain dad” then peers into the mouse hole. Both the cat and Filabert are in separate beds and thank Augie for his thoughtfulness. “After all,” Daddy says to us to wind up the cartoon, “how many boys can bring hot soup to a sick cat in a mouse hole?” So it is that everyone comes out a winner in this cartoon.

As for the stock music, the cutter uses Spence Moore’s oboe workpart piece L-1158 Animation Comedy for the shrinking and growing, and Moore’s ‘Animation Nautical’ is heard during the ship-in-a-bottle scene.

0:00 - Augie Doggie Main Title theme (Hanna-Barbera-Curtin).
0:24 - GR-65 BUSH BABY (Green) – Filabert walks, cat crashes to floor.
0:55 - fast circus chase music (Shaindlin) – cat slides to mouse hole, runs into Daddy, laughs.
1:21 - GR-65 BUSH BABY (Green) – “You look awfully familiar,” Daddy tosses cat in garbage, Augie mixes and drinks formula.
2:25 - L-1158 ANIMATION COMEDY (Moore) – Augie shrinks.
2:26 - GR-255 PUPPETRY COMEDY (Green) – “It worked,” Augie takes cheese, Daddy sees he’s shrunk, Daddy drinks formula.
3:31 - L-1158 ANIMATION COMEDY (Moore) – Daddy shrinks.
3:33 - COMEDY SUSPENSE (Shaindlin) – “I guess dis is known…” Daddy picks up cat.
4:00 - fast circus chase music (Shaindlin) – “Hey!” Daddy hides in gun, rides bullet, lands in bottle.
4:41 - L-1121 ANIMATION NAUTICAL (Moore) – Daddy falls to bottom of bottle, fires cannon at cat.
5:17 - SIX DAY BICYCLE RACE (Shaindlin) – Cat chases Daddy, Augie runs to rescue.
5:38 - PG-161H LIGHT MOVEMENT (Green) – “This’ll make me big,” Augie drinks formula.
5:45 - L-1158 ANIMATION COMEDY (Moore) – Augie grows.
5:49 - CB-83A MR TIPPY TOES (Cadkin-Bluestone) Daddy in sugar bowl, cat drinks formula, explosion, Daddy watching TV, peers in mouse hole, “how many boys can bring hot soup…”
7:01 - GR-79 CUSTARD PIE CAPERS BRIDGE No 2 (Green) – “to a sick cat…” iris out.
7:10 - Augie Doggie End Title theme (Curtin).

Wednesday 18 September 2013

Mike Road

He played good guys and bad guys on a host of TV shows in the late ‘50s and early ‘60s, but you never saw him in his biggest role. That’s because Mike Road played the voice of Race Bannon on the great action/adventure cartoon “Jonny Quest.”

There’s a report on David McRobie’s blog that Mike Road has passed away. The post doesn’t say when it happened or how. I can’t verify the report as I haven’t seen it elsewhere, but wire services are sometimes notoriously late with stories about the deaths of people in animation.

Even if Mr. McRobie, who I don’t know, has been given the wrong information, this is a good opportunity to post something about Road on the internet as there isn’t really much gathered together in one place.

Road was born Milton Brustin in Malden, Massachusetts in 1918; his World War Two Army enlistment record lists his occupation as an actor but the Census taken the year before in 1940 reveals he was making his living painting signs.

His big TV break came in the summer replacement show “Buckskin” in 1958. The
Boston Globe wrote about it in its edition of June 29, 1958.

Former Malden Man Gets The Starring Role in “Buckskin”
The resident director of the John Hancock Summer Theatre in 1952, Mike Road, has won a regular starring role in the new TV series “Buckskin” which will be seen every Thursday at 9:30 p.m. over ch. 4 and the NBC-TV network.
Mike, a Maiden boy who started acting while a student at Lincoln Junior High and Malden High, is cast as Tom Sellers the Marshal of Buckskin, Montana, a frontier town which is the nerve center of a territory through which the displaced persons of the post-Civil War period are moving to make a new homes and fortunes in the West. Mike is shown here with Tommy Nolan who stars as Jody O'Connell, through whose eyes the rough life of the Montana frontier will be seen in “Buckskin.”
The Malden thespian started acting doing "character parts" while still a student at Lincoln Junior High, Malden. At Malden High Mike decided on a professional career in the theatre despite discouraging advice from people who knew the theatre.
"They told me I had talent, but that the acting business was too tough," Mike says. The young actor put the advice to the test and found the advice was sound. A series of jobs from waiter to truck driver, to usher kept him "not quite alive" for several years in New York while he looked for a Broadway part.
The dearth of New York parts led to taking "room and a little board" jobs in New England summer stock companies. The background finally paid off and Mike was off and running—for three weeks in the Broadway play "The Moonvine." He shared a dressing room with another aspiring actor in "The Moonvine"— Yul Brynner.
After the Broadway play closed came a Hollywood with RKO and jobs in "Tender Comrade" and "Hitler's Children." Mike returned to Broadway and the longest run of his career—14 months in "Dear Ruth."
Directorial ambitions have kept the actor busy between engagements in recent years. In 1952 he was resident director at the John Hancock Summer Theatre at the John Hancock Hall. He has directed feature films in Sweden and an, as yet unsold, pilot film for American television.
Mike is married to an actress Ruth Brady. They have a daughter, Donna Brady Road. Mike's brother, Charles Brustin, lives on Furnace Brook Parkway in Quincy.

The Lewiston Evening Journal ran this syndicated squib on June 16, 1962 with a bit more about his career.

Mike Road Got Start in Boston
HOLLYWOOD—Mike Road made his acting debut as a teenager with a little theatre group in Boston and, later, while trying to connect on Broadway, accepted all kinds of jobs to keep himself in eating money. First, he was an usher at a theatre in the Yorkville section of New York while also acting with a stock company across the river in Hoboken. Other jobs included that of waiter, stock boy in a clothing store, elevator operator and sign painter.
Mike made his Broadway debut in “Doodle Dandy of the U.S.A.,” which ran ten days. His next short-lived play was “The Moonvine.” Finally, however, he landed the leading male role in “Dear Ruth,” which ran six months.
Hollywood beckoned, but lean times forced him again into sideline jobs such as house painter, delivery man for a florist and a hi-fi salesman. In time, he played leading roles in such plays as “Separate Rooms, “The Square Needle” and “Twin Beds.”
His role of Marshal Sellers in the “Buckskin” TV series led to a variety of appearances in the medium, including some of the Warner Bros. headliners, “77 Sunset Strip,” “Lawman,” “Hawaiian Eye,” and “SurfSide 6.” The studio put him under contract in August, 1960.
Prior to this, Road established himself as a director in the repertory and stock company field. His stars, here included Vincent Price, Ilona Massey, Luther Adler, Kim Hunter and Uta Hagen. In Sweden, he directed Signe Hasso in the feature film, “True and False.”
He is a native of Boston, and is married to Ruth Brady (July 21, 1948). They have two daughters, Donna and Terry (by a previous marriage). [Yowp note: Ruth died in Los Angeles on June 3, 1997]

Road was also one of the stars of “The Roaring 20’s,” a show about newspaper reporters and crime. The Towanda News of September 9, 1961 offered this bit of trivia.

Mike Road Breaks Age-Old Tradition
Mike Road, as Lt. Joe Switolski, crime-buster in ABC-TV's (Ch. 7) “The Roaring 20’s” series, has broken with tradition for this or any period by his refusal to play the role with a hat on his handsome head.
“If the wardrobe man presents me with one of the snap-brim models during rehearsal, says Mike, "I have a convenient way of losing it before the scene is shot.
“This is my ‘secret weapon’ as an actor — nothing more. I don’t hate hats, as such. I just thought it was a good gimmick to keep me from looking like all the other crime-busters in show business.”

Road should have been busy elsewhere. In January, 1961, he and Peter Breck were announced as stars of a new Warners cop show called “Las Vegas File” for ABC but it never arrived on the fall schedule, despite word the following month that the network had purchased 26 one-hour episodes. Jonny Quest came along three years later and Road’s baritone was perfect for role. And, as you can see above, he had a bit of experience with the B-movie detective/Johnny Dollar-style dialogue that Race Bannon was given on necessary occasions. He was given a few other roles in H-B cartoons, notably Zandor in “The Herculoids” but Road, more or less, had one voice.

By the ‘70s, he returned to stage directing in Los Angeles; he won the Los Angeles Drama Critics’ Circle award in 1973 and the L.A. Times talks in 1988 about a one-woman play he was directing. Whether he preferred acting or directing hasn’t been revealed in available press clippings, but when you think of Mike Road, you’ll think of the white-haired guy who protected and befriended Dr. Benton Quest’s pre-teen son.

Flintstones Weekend Comics, September 1963

Maybe Gene Hazleton and his freelance writing staff got tired of tossing Pebbles into the plots of the Flintstones Sunday comics. 50 years ago this month, she really only plays a role in one of the comics and doesn’t even appear in one of them. The last two for the month remind me a lot of the early Flintstones cartoons, especially the September 29th comic where Fred’s a know-it-all with the usual disastrous results.

It’s a shame a number of papers only ran the last two rows of panels so they could fit in three comics per page instead of two. Readers missed some fun drawings. September 1st features an elaborate first panel with Dino on the top of the Flintmobile. Nice use of perspective. I like Fred and Barney’s wailing expressions in the final panel.

Nice switch in the end gag on September 8th. Where’s that sign hanging from in the opening panel?

Ah, women drivers! Where would 1950s and ‘60s nightclub acts have been without women-driver and mother-in-law jokes? Here’s one in the September 15th comic. Love the jagged CRASH panel. Can you hear the crashing sound effect with the tin cans?

Is the September 22nd comic by Bick Bickenbach? The yawning Fred is great. I like the Dino throwaway gag in the opening panel. Too bad some readers missed that first row.

Another great opening panel on September 29th with the astonished look on Dino. Wilma didn’t say “darn” on the TV show, did she? If this were a TV cartoon, Hoyt Curtin’s trumpet cue based on the William Tell overture would probably be played as Fred gallops to the doorway.

You can click on any of the cartoons to enlarge them.

Saturday 14 September 2013

Yogi Bear — Biggest Show-Off on Earth

Produced and Directed by Joe Barbera and Bill Hanna.
Credits: Animation – Ed de Mattia, Layout – Tony Rivera, Backgrounds – Dick Thomas, Story – Warren Foster, Story Director – Alex Lovy, Titles – Art Goble, Production Supervision – Howard Hanson.
Voice Cast: Yogi Bear, Blue Clothed Circus worker, Ranger 1, Voice in helicopter – Daws Butler; Boo Boo, Elmo, Ranger Smith, ringmaster, Ranger 2 – Don Messick.
Music: Bill Loose/John Seely, Jack Shaindlin, Geordie Hormel, Spencer Moore.
Episode: Huckleberry Hound Show K-047.
First Aired: week of January 23, 1961 (week of Feb. 29, 1961 on the Yogi show).
Plot: A vicious circus bear exchanges places with Yogi.

Yogi Bear is a happy, rhyming schemer. Elmo the Circus Bear can’t talk; he just angrily growls. So how is it that people who know them can’t tell them apart? Are they that stupid?

That’s something that’s always bothered me about this cartoon. Well, that and the ending. But at least it’s a change from the Yogi-vs.-Ranger Smith which stifled the series a bit. And if people could tell the two apart, it’d botch the story a bit.

The trio of Rivera-de Mattia-Thomas from “Do or Diet” and “Huck Hound’s Tale” handled the artwork in this cartoon. Rivera’s parallel face lines and pipe-stem legs are evident here, as is his fixation with trees shaped like isosceles triangles.

Ed de Mattia animated, as best as I can tell, four cartoons at Hanna-Barbera before being hired at commercial house Animation, Inc. in 1960 (unless he was merely freelancing at H-B). He has the same animation quirks in the two he did with Rivera. He spends the time to draw hand and finger gestures; there’s a nice bit of work where Elmo wiggles his fingers before grabbing Ranger Smith. Here’s an example with Yogi.

The back of Yogi’s mouth is rounded in dialogue where he’s not smiling. He also like grilles of teeth to show some emotions, like anger. Here’s an example of Elmo. Note the fingers again.

Some drawings just look odd; they’re a little more stylised than what you’d find in many Hanna-Barbera cartoons.. Check out these rangers. The one on the phone could almost fit in a Gene Deitch Tom and Jerry cartoon.

We mentioned in the “Talky Hawky” post that it looked like de Mattia drew the close-ups at one time and the longer shots at another because the shots don’t always match. Here’s just one an example from this cartoon. The cartoon cuts from animation of Yogi and Boo Boo to a close-up of Yogi. But Yogi’s not in the same position from one frame to the next.

Dick Thomas painted the backgrounds. Here’s part of the one used to open the cartoon.

Warren Foster’s story starts with Elmo the Performing Bear breaking out of a circus train which is stopped at a siding. Elmo trudges his way into Yogi and Boo Boo’s cave, growling all the way. And leaving footprints. Until he gets inside Yogi’s cave. Miraculously, the mud instantly dries up. Or something. His expression changes, too. The snarling becomes a long-toothed grin. Elmo exchanges hats with the sleeping Yogi and trudges off again. Circus workers “folley” the footprints into the cave, bash Yogi on the head and carry him out. Boo Boo wakes up and follows. Yogi comes to in a circus train car with Boo Boo outside. “Boo Boo, what are you doin’ in my dream? Go find your own dream,” he says. Boo Boo jumps inside the car and assures him it’s not a dream. The car starts moving and the adventure is under way.

A shot of the circus midway follows. Yogi’s told by the circus manager to get in the parade (Boo Boo carries a bass drum on his back as Yogi plays it) and then that he can’t go to Jellystone because he’s the star of the show, pointing to a sign. The manager thinks the genial Yogi is his foul-tempered star because they’re wearing the same hat. Meanwhile, the scene cuts to the circus bear eating out a picnic basket. He makes short work of the chiding Ranger Smith (shoving him in a picnic basket, off screen of course) and two generic rangers (slamming a car door down on them), who call for reinforcements as Elmo leaves the park. Except they all think it’s Yogi.

Back at the circus, Yogi dives into a pitcher of water then comes crashing to the ground after putting on the brakes on his unicycle doing a loop-de-loop. Then the final stunt. “The odds are all with ya,” says the circus manager. “There’s 170 million people in the country, right? And, last year, not one person was injured gettin’ shot outside of a cannon.” “I wonder if this could be construed as shootin’ bears out of season,” Yogi muses to us as he flies through the air (and the tent) and crashes on the ground outside. Somehow, Boo Boo is there when he lands. Elmo then stomps into the scene, exchanges hats and stomps out.

Yogi and Boo Boo arrive back at Jellystone. They’re shot from the waist up (Yogi looks awfully fat) so de Mattia doesn’t have to animate their legs. Nor does he animate the scuffle Yogi has with the police and state troopers who come to capture him. Fade to Yogi sitting in some kind of wooden cage. He’s been banished for 60 days—with talk of selling him to a circus. But why didn’t Boo Boo explain to Ranger Smith it’s all a case of mistaken identity? Isn’t that what a faithful friend would do? And wouldn’t the ranger have believed Boo Boo? Yogi ends up being punished for something he didn’t do just so Foster can get in an ironic finish to the cartoon.

The sound-cutter evidently was going for an inside joke when he had Yogi dive into the water to the cue “Animation-Nautical” by Spencer Moore. There’s a piece of music that plays during the parade that may be part of the same Jack Shaindlin cue used in de Mattia’s circus outing with Huck, “Huck Hound’s Tale.” It’s tough to hear over all the sound effects and I don’t have a copy of it. And the cutter uses an odd cue when Elmo grabs the ranger. It features a loud, off-key piano chord as a stab. Hoyt Curtin wrote material like that (such as on “The Flintstones” when Fred suddenly stopped and realised something) so this may be something by Curtin. He had already written stock cues for Loopy de Loop which would soon find their way into Hanna-Barbera’s TV cartoons as well.

0:00 - Yogi Bear Sub Main Title Theme (Curtin-Shows-Hanna-Barbera).
0:28 - C-19 LIGHT ACTIVITY (Loose) – Pan over train, Elmo walks to cave.
1:00 - LAF-25-3 bassoon and zig-zag strings (Shaindlin) – Yogi sleeping, hat switch, bash on head, Boo Boo leaves cave.
1:43 - TC-303 ZANY COMEDY (Loose-Seely) – Rail car scene.
2:14 - medium fanfare/parade cue (Shaindlin?) – Shot of midway, Yogi told to get in parade, Yogi bangs bass drum, “Havin’ fun, Boo Boo?”
2:36 - TC-202 ECCENTRIC COMEDY (Loose-Seely) – “Aw, Yogi,” Yogi sees billing, “my public awaits!” 3:20 - TC-201 PIXIE COMEDY (Loose-Seely) – Close up of Boo Boo.
3:25 - LAF-93-2 comedy flute and quack cue (Shaindlin) – Elmo eats from picnic basket.
3:39 - surprise cue with piano and tuba (Curtin?) – Elmo raises arms and squeezes ranger.
3:42 - ZR-48 FAST MOVEMENT (Hormel) – Elmo carries ranger, ranger in basket, rangers on phone.
4:17 - fanfare (?) – Yogi on platform, “What are you waitin’ for?”
4:22 - L-1121 ANIMATION NAUTICAL (Moore) – “There’s plenty of water,” Yogi dives.
4:33 - LAF-72-2 RODEO DAY (Shaindlin) – Shot of empty platform, Yogi’s head in bottle, unicycle scene.
5:20 - LAF-7-12 FUN ON ICE (Shaindlin) – Yogi talks to “boss man,” shot from cannon.
5:53 - LAF-25-3 LICKETY SPLIT (Shaindlin) – Yogi flies through air, Elmo exchanges hats, Yogi and Boo Boo decide to go home.
6:30 - TC-437 SHOPPING DAY (Loose-Seely) – Helicopter, fight sounds.
6:58 - LAF-5-20 TOBOGGAN RUN (Shaindlin) – Yogi in cage.
7:11 - Yogi Bear Sub-End Title (Curtin).