Saturday 27 December 2014

Pixie and Dixie — Magician Jinks

Produced and Directed by Joe Barbera and Bill Hanna.
Credits: Animation – Ed Parks, Layout – Jerry Eisenberg, Backgrounds – Art Lozzi, Written by Warren Foster, Story Director – John Freeman, Titles – Art Goble, Production Supervision – Howard Hanson.
Voice Cast: Pixie, Muggs, Monster – Don Messick; Mr. Jinks, Dixie – Daws Butler.
Music: Hoyt Curtin.
First Aired: 1962.
Plot: Jinks uses a magic kit to make Pixie and Dixie disappear.

That Mr. Jinks. What a phoney.

His only intention during this cartoon is to rid his life of Pixie and Dixie. Miraculously, he succeeds (sort of), thanks to an incantation from a book of magic. But when he’s fed a line by the dog next door that the meeces have been left a million-dollar inheritance, he wants them back. For only one reason, of course. Soliloquises the cat: “My buddies, Pixie and Dixie. They have untolled wealth. And I made ‘em disappear before they could tell me.” So he tries a different magic phrase to bring them back. It doesn’t work. “No millionaires. I mean, no buddies,” he forlornly tells himself.

This is the second cartoon where Jinks tries to make the meeces disappear. The first one was “Jinks’ Mice Device” in the first season. In that one, he turns them invisible and they decide to play some tricks on him. In this fourth season cartoon, Jinks’ magic phrase transports them from their basement to somewhere behind the house next door where Muggs the dog lives. How? Why? Who knows. Evidently Jinks isn’t following the instructions in the book for he somehow summons a blue creature when he tries to get them back. Jerry Eisenberg, being the layout artist, would have designed the dog and horned beast. The dog looks a lot like the huge-jawed one in the Huck cartoon “TV or Not TV,” or perhaps Chopper with different proportions, and the scale-backed creature (with a great voice by Don Messick) could have escaped from a Flintstones episode.

The credits say Ed Park animated this cartoon and I really can’t say one way or another if that’s right or wrong. But a few weeks back, it was mentioned that John Boersma liked drawing characters with the hand extended flat and the pinkie crooked up. You can see that in this cartoon. Perhaps Boersma did part of the cartoon or it’s a drawing quirk that belonged to more than one H-B animator. The rest of the artwork doesn’t remind me of Boersma.

There’s brushwork when characters zip out of the frame.

Do postmen blow whistles any more after they leave mail at a home? Did they ever? It happens to open this cartoon. Jinks’ magic kit has, like, arrived (Mr. Jinks has his very own mailbox, labelled as such). Jinks tells the curious Pixie and Dixie to get back in their “meece-hole” and does a little angry stomp in place when he orders them. “I wonder what’s in that package, Dixie,” says Pixie. Dixie responds “I don’t know. But I’ve got a feeling we’re going to find out. During the scene, Pixie puts his right arm behind his back, making it look like he has only one arm. Oh, well. Not drawing a second arm saved some money.

Fade to Jinks in the cellar, following the instructions in his do-it-your-self magic kit. He admits to us he only bought it “make those two miserable meeces go into, like, the Twilight Zone.” As Pixie and Dixie listen behind a closed door, Mr. Jinks practises his disappearing trick by twiddling his fingers (“it’s a certain twist of the wrist that does it”) and shouting “Crackey-Sackey-Nackey-Poof!” “I did it! Hurrah! I did it! The apple is gone!” he cries in success. The puzzled meeces look at each other. “The apple is gone?” says Pixie. “That’s not all that’s gone,” Dixie observes. Jinks follows with a song lyric. “I got it! I got that old black magic in my spell!”

Jinks cons the meeces into taking part in his magic act and he makes them disappear (evidently he brought the magic stand upstairs because the background is a green living room wall, not the reddish confines of the cellar). Jinks nods his head at us in affirmation. But Pixie and Dixie don’t really disappear. They merely get transported to the neighbour’s back yard. Note the downward-pointing fronds on the bush. Art Lozzi at work.

In “Party Pepper Jinks,” the neighbouring white bulldog who decided to help the meeces get revenge on Jinks was named Rocky. In this one, he’s named Muggs. And, as we’ve mentioned, he concocts a story about Pixie and Dixie being millionaires, so the desperate Jinks tries to bring them back with the magic words “Afraghani Whosistan.” Instead, he makes a snarking monster appear. There’s a really interesting take when it happens. Jinks is suspended in mid-air while he flaps his arms and feet, then crosses his feet. He tries to make it disappear—Daws has a really great delivery when Jinks puts the magic cloth on the creature’s horn and says “Gee, you look better already”—but he’s forgotten the magic words. The meeces can’t help because they’re forgotten the words, too. Instead of grabbing the instruction book and looking them up, Jinks simply runs. And the cartoon ends with another eternal chase, the monster running after Jinks as they pass the same tree eight times before the fade out.

A side note for you youngsters reading: among the incorrect magic words that Jinks chants are “Ishkabibble” and “Cucamonga.” The former was the nickname of a cornet player and sidekick on Kay Kyser’s radio show. The latter is a town in California popularised on the Jack Benny radio show as part of a list of railroad stops shouted out by train announcer Mel Blanc.

Hoyt Curtin had a bunch of electric organ cues (someone can tell me if it’s a Wurlitzer or a Hammond) that were plunked down in cartoons around this time. The underscore also has a couple of bridges popularised on “The Flintstones” and “Paddle faster, Hardy!” music closes the cartoon.

I’m afraid we now bid adieu to Mr. Jinks and the miserable meeces. We’ve reviewed all 55 Pixie and Dixie cartoons.

Thursday 25 December 2014

What's Under the Virtual Hanna-Barbera Tree

Your favourite Hanna-Barbera cartoon dog is in a festive mood (note the party hat in the picture of the napkin to your right sent by Rick Greene). And since this is a time for being with friends and giving, allow me to pass to you some H-B holiday(ish) items from around the internet. Maybe we’ll have a special gift, too.

Before we get to some pictures, allow me to send a Wee Willie-sized thank you to all who have visited this blog over the years.

Is this Mel Crawford artwork? It reminds me of the Hanna-Barbera Golden Books he illustrated in the early ‘60s. If anyone knows, please post a comment. It’s a great drawing. It’s odd seeing Baba Looey without Quick Draw. Perhaps he was busy battling a Typical Western Bad Guy as El Kabong and didn’t have time to sit for the portrait. Keith Fisk sent a note saying he found the artwork and substituted the holiday greeting.

Who needs Santa when you can have a visit from Yogi Bear and Huckleberry Hound? Granted, you had to go to a department store to see them. And you had to ignore the fact that Yogi and Huck were really a couple of guys in fuzzy costumes. This is from the Philadelphia Inquirer before Christmas 1961.

This fun drawing is publicity artwork for “Yogi Bear’s All-Star Comedy Christmas Caper,” a 1982 special on CBS. It was written in 2½ days by Mark Evanier. Mark talks about it in this great post on his blog. The characters are expertly drawn by Scott Shaw.

And at Christmas-time, if you didn’t get your fix of Hanna-Barbera characters by turning on your TV set, there was always the Golden Book series we mentioned earlier. Unfortunately, a copy of “Huckleberry Hound and the Christmas Sleigh” (1960) isn’t on-line, but some original artwork from the book is. The drawings are by C.W. Sattersfield. These are a few of them.

If books weren’t enough of a fix, you could simply use your imagination. Assisted by Hanna-Barbera merchandise, of course. There were seemingly endless board games, Flintstones Building Boulders, a gin rummy card game (with Yowp on one of the cards), and so on, all available at your local department store just in time for Christmas. My brother got a Kenner Give-a-Show movie projector, though this Easy-Show you see to the right looks pretty cool. And only $4.69! Did you have a favourite H-B toy or game you got for Christmas one year?

Since we’re talking about Christmas, allow me to re-gift a couple of drawings posted earlier. The first one is from Mark Christiansen’s collection. If I had to guess, I’d say it was from the pen of Dick Bickenbach. The second one with Quick Draw in the Christmas tree is from a Huckleberry Hound book by Whitman.

In Decembers past, Santa Yowp has given the gift of music. Oh, how I wish I had more of Jack Shaindlin’s Langlois Filmusic stock music from the early cartoons to pass on, but I’ve given up hope I’ll ever find any. So you’ll have to make do with something else.

Hoyt Curtin’s best work may have been done on “Jonny Quest,” but my favourite music of his was written for “Top Cat,” a series which has never done much for me. A number of years ago, 19½ minutes of Curtin’s music for the series was put out on CD. The majority of it has never been released. Here are some of the cues that have never been on CD. Judging by the sound quality, I suspect these were dubbed onto a cassette and put through Dolby noise reduction. I doubt the names of the cues are Curtin’s; they’re certainly not mine. You may recognise them from later H-B series. I hope you like them and you have an enjoyable holiday season.

This is the City (T-113)

Tin Pan Alley Cat (T-11)

Honey Dumelon (T-112)

Whimsical Bit T-33

Love Under the Stars (T-42)

Dinosaur Love (T-43)

He Who Hesitates (T-3)

Nightclub Bridge (T-206)

Maison La Rock (T-41)

Gi-Gi Galaxy (T-48)

Hold Me in Your Arms (Q-120)

The Nightclub Before Christmas (T-8)

Alto Swinger T-24

Sultry Strings (T-34)

Boston Bound Boogie Woogie (T-39)

Gee Daddy-O, It's a Wurlitzer (T-40)

Band Swinger T-28

Tinkle in Time (T-205)

Choo Choo's Bossa Nova T-13

Dance All Night (T-49)

Mr Lucky T-26

Wednesday 24 December 2014

Santa Alan Reed

Alan Reed played Fred Flintstone playing Santa Claus in “Christmas Flintstone” in 1965. But ten years before that, the pre-Flintstone Reed had a different, real-life role—playing Santa’s helper.

Network radio of the 1930s and ‘40s was good to Reed. He snagged regular weekly supporting roles as well as other work on major shows. When radio faded away in the ’50s, Reed survived on minor film and occasional television roles. He figured that he’d better find a source of regular income, and he got it by opening a novelty company. We talked about it in a Christmas season post a few years ago. The windfall days resumed in 1960, as he picked up a supporting part on the sitcom “Peter Loves Mary.” Oh, and there was also that cartoon show about a Stone Age family. Daily Variety announced on April 4th he was joining Bea Benaderet and Jean Vander Pyl in the cast.

But in the days between radio and Fred Flintstone, Reed found time to help kids at Christmas. Daily Variety reported on September 20, 1955 that Reed would tour 43 cities to plug his group that collected toys and gifts for underprivileged children. The goal was to collect 8,500,000 toys. Here’s a United Press story with more on what Reed hoped to do.

TV Actor and Teddy Bear Shine as Helpers of Santa

HOLLYWOOD, Dec. 18 (UP)—Old Kris Kringle has two new assistants this year, one is a fluffy white teddy bear and the other is actor Alan Reed, best remembered as Falstaff Openshaw on the Fred Allen show and Finnegan of “Duffy’s Tavern.”
REED AND HIS miniature polar bear have formed the “Santa Claus Helpers’ Club” in 32 major cities. Purpose of the organization is to stimulate small fry into donating toys for other, less fortunate, children.
“Up to now toy collections have been aimed at adults,” Reed says. “The kids of the country have been overlooked as contributors. So I began the Helpers’ Club with the slogans: ‘A Christmas Toy for Every Child in America,’ and ‘Learning the Pleasure of Giving by Participation.’ ”
Symbol for the club is ‘Kewtee Bear’ who has made two recordings for Columbia Records and is the subject of a children’s book. Each child who brings a toy to collection centers is given a Kewtee Bear certificate and badge making him a member of the club.
“WE HOPE THE little white bear will become the spirit of giving and sharing for youngsters at Christmastime,” Reed says. “It’s important that they know how much fun it is to give.”
The stocky dialectician said he became interested in toy campaigns when he discovered the Marine Corps’ “Toys for Tots” program fell 2,000,000 toys short of its goal last year.
“At first I tried to organize the Santa Claus Helpers’ Club to work with the Marines or some other national group. But I found that each city had its own independent toy gathering agency. So instead of coming in as a separate and competitive agency we have become a part of a dozen different groups.
“In Cleveland we’re working with the fire department and Salvation Army,” Reed explained. “In Boston and Los Angeles it’s the YMCA, in Milwaukee the police department, and in a lot of cities it’s the Boy Scouts.
“We’re also working with the Cincinnati Post Our partner in New York is the Police Athletic League. Next year we hope to add twice as many cities to the list.”
THE HELPERS’ CLUB boosts toy campaigns with radio, TV and newspaper plugs. Disc jockeys play the Kewtee Bear records and then tell listeners where to take the toys. A three-minute film has been made for television.
“I have no idea how many toys will be collected this year,” Reed concluded, “but I have a feeling our club will help millions of little boys and girls believe there really is a Santa Claus when they look in their stockings Christmas morning.”

Reed’s tour might have been cut short; he began shooting “He Laughed Last” starring Frankie Laine for Columbia by the end of the year.

Tim Hollis’ book Christmas Wishes: A Catalog of Vintage Holiday Treats and Treasures has more on Kewtee Bear. You can read it HERE. And you can listen to the Reed record by going to this page. Cartoon fans will recognise the actress with Reed.

We now jump forward to 1965 and post a few background drawings with cycle animation of falling presents from “Christmas Flintstone.” Let’s not get into one of those “How was there Christmas in the Stone Age?” discussions. It’s a cartoon, not a documentary. Same with asking “How was there an Eiffel Tower or Leaning Tower of Pisa in the Stone Age?” or “Why can they speak American English in the Stone Age?” Just enjoy the drawings.

Saturday 20 December 2014

Yogi Bear — Droop-a-Long Yogi

Produced and Directed by Joe Barbera and Bill Hanna.
Credits: Animation – Ralph Somerville, Layout – Tony Rivera, Backgrounds – Neena Maxwell, Written by Warren Foster, Story Director – Art Davis, Titles – Art Goble, Production Supervision – Howard Hanson.
Voice Cast: Yogi Bear, Director, Actor on barrel – Daws Butler; Ranger Smith, Boo Boo, Producer C.G., Tex, Cameraman Charlie, actor leaning against saloon – Don Messick; Script Girl, Belle – Jean Vander Pyl.
Music: Hoyt Curtin.
First Aired: 1961-62 season.
Plot: Yogi horns his way into a TV Western being shot at Jellystone.

So many fun elements have been packed into this cartoon that make it one of the best-ever Yogis. There’s the frustrated director who keeps having his shots ruined by intruders. There are the hammy and corny Yogi and Ranger Smith hoping to become TV stars. There’s wooden acting by the actors (Don Messick is evoking Gary Cooper with his delivery as the actor playing Tex). There’s a casual reference to Quick Draw McGraw. There’s Boo Boo saying “I’m getting far away from here” and disappearing for the remainder of the cartoon. And there’s writer Warren Foster taking pot-shots at the low calibre of westerns on television.

There’s a funny little exchange at the beginning of the cartoon. I don’t know if it was intentional on Foster’s part. “Please, no Hollywood shenanigans from your troupe,” Ranger Smith tells the film moguls. And then sproings toward the script girl and gives her the eye. Hey, Mr. Ranger, ain’t
that kind of a Hollywood shenanigan?

Tony Rivera laid out this cartoon. The parallel jaw lines give it away. He would have designed the props, too, including cars and vans.

The camera pans from left to right in this scene. I love Tex’s inept monotone delivery. “Indians couldn’t hold me with you here, Belle.” Bill Shatner stops and starts less often in a line of dialogue than this guy.

And then Yogi, not realising there’s a film being made, comes out of his cave and slams the door on him.

Neenah Maxwell is responsible for the backgrounds. Let’s look at some. Kids missed the nice colours on their 1961 black-and-white TVs.

Oh, that cyncial Warren Foster!

The less-than-subtle Ranger Smith asks if maybe there’s a part for him in the show.

Director: Okay, okay. You’re in. Heh, heh. What’s your name?
Ranger: Ranger Smith.
Director: Oh, we’ll change that.
Producer: I hope he doesn’t ruin it.
Director: Are you kidding? Who could ruin a TV western?

After Yogi interrupts the shooting, and jokes that “the nearest Indians are the Cleveland Indians ball club”:

Director: Cut, cut! Get that bear out of here. Who’s got a gun? Shoot him!
Cameraman: No! Chief, he’s government property, like the Grand Canyon or something.

Ranger Smith, in costume, asks when his part is coming up.

Director: We’re ready for the big fight. Go in there and when I yell ‘Action!’ start fighting. And make it look adequate. Don’t forget, this is for TV.

And a Foster sight gag. Very Warner Bros.

The climax of the story has Yogi and Ranger Smith, both in costume, duke it out in a fight scene in the saloon. They don’t know who the other is. There are some camera-shakes over backgrounds, but there are some impact drawings, too. When the two are offered a picture contract because their scene was so good, Ranger Smith discovers he’s been fighting Yogi and vice-versa. They zip off camera. Ralph Somerville is the animator, assisted by nice brushwork from the H-B ink and paint department (some of whom had worked at MGM with Joe and Bill). Note we have both blue wood and brown wood in the saloon.

And the cartoon ends with an eternal chase over a repeating background.

Miscellany: Nary a mention of pic-a-nic baskets in this one...Yogi’s response to an actor’s scripted line about it being a ghost town: “Sure. The show will be seen on a ghost-to-ghost network. Yuk, yuk, yuk!” He decided to add a little comedy relief...Yogi fits in the cartoon title with a rhyme: “Get along little dogie. Here’s droop-a-long Yogi!”...Hoyt Curtin supplies some western and country (with fiddle) cues for the underscore. They’re not lavishly orchestrated, but they fit nicely.