Saturday 3 May 2014

Pixie and Dixie — Bombay Mouse

Produced and Directed by Bill Hanna and Joe Barbera.
Credits: Animation – John Boersma, Layout – Tony Rivera, Backgrounds – Dick Thomas, Written by Warren Foster, Story Director – Lew Marshall, Titles – Art Goble, Production Supervision – Howard Hanson.
Voice Cast: Pixie, Tabu – Don Messick; Dixie, Mr Jinks – Daws Butler.
Music: Hoyt Curtin.
First Aired: 1962.
Plot: Tabu the Indian mouse arrives to help Pixie and Dixie deal with Mr. Jinks.

No, Hadji on “Jonny Quest” was not the first person to utter the words “(Sim) Sim Sala Bim” in a Hanna-Barbera cartoon. Tabu the Bombay Mouse did it in this cartoon. But writer Warren Foster didn’t invent the phrase. Go to to this web site to learn more.

I feel sorry for Mr. Jinks in this cartoon. All he’s doing is napping. He’s not bothering anyone. Suddenly, some mouse on a flying carpet invades his house without asking and levitates him onto a tree branch. Who’s this Tabu guy to start picking on him for no reason? And what’s with the meeces? They egg on Tabu (“He’s always imposin’ on us,” says Pixie) but then object to how he’s punishing Jinks (“Mr. Jinks is our friend,” says Dixie). Make up your minds, meeces.

Mind you, Pixie and Dixie aren’t exactly blessed with university educations in this one. When Tabu enters their mouse hole, he explains he’s an Indian mouse. “Indian mouse?!” exclaims the incredulous Pixie. “Indians have feathers and do war dances,” adds Dixie. Apparently, the turban and Don Messick’s accent didn’t clue them in that Tabu is from the real India. So Tabu does it for them. “Did you ever hear of Bombay?” asks Tabu. “Bombay?” repeats Pixie. “Oh, sure,” says Dixie. “Any friend of Bombay’s is a friend of ours’.”

Fortunately, Mr. Jinks gets snappier things to say than this. When Jinks sees the turbaned Tabu, he asks “And who is this with the headache?” Jinks is warned Tabu knows all the secrets of India. “India, huh? Well, uh, I want no meece-type United Nations started here.” And after Tabu turns him into a cow: “I have a funny feeling that,uh, I would enjoy munching on, like, grass, repulsive as it sounds. I think I will go out in the yard and, like, chew my cud. Whatever that is.”

Tony Rivera’s design for Jinks as a cow is pretty funny (note that Dick Thomas’ painting on the wall is of a desert).

John Boersma’s animation is really odd in spots. Below, you see that it looks like Tabu and his flying carpet land on Jinks’ head. But Jinks moves his head (while snoring) and the carpet stays put.

Boersma has a halting, side-step cycle for Tabu when he enters the mouse hole. Eight drawings. What makes it halting is a drawing is photographed, the background is moved slightly, the drawing is photographed again, then the background remains stationary and the next drawing is photographed. The process is repeated for each drawing.

Later in the scene, Tabu begins to put Pixie and Dixie in a trance. You’d think he’d aim his arms at them, or something. Instead he lifts them into the air like he’s pushing something skyward. The gesture doesn’t make sense. And he’s not even saying magic words. Why are the meece under a spell?

Anyway, the rest of the cartoon carries on. Jinks is levitated out the window and onto a tree branch by Tabu. A neat little Hammond organ march by Hoyt Curtin is played in the background; I don’t know how often it was used in cartoons. Boersma draws Jinks with a wide mouth but with a longer upper lip line than Carlo Vinci. Still, Jinks looks pretty attractive. Hmm. Angular tree foliage? Scratchy line for grass? Must be a Dick Thomas background.

Jinks confronts Tabu, who climbs a rope and disappears (“Anything that makes a meece disappear, I am, like, all for,” exclaims Jinks). Another example of long shots not matching medium-close shots (sorry for the non-animation terminology, you animators reading here). Here are consecutive frames.

Song references:

Pixie: “Tabu’s turnin’ on his brain power.”
Dixie: “His old black magic will have him in his spell.”

That’s when Jinks is turned into a cow. To turn him back, the meece have to say the magic words “Shaboom, shaboom.”

Tabu says “I think I go back to Bombay and forget trying to be helpful.” Hey, Tabu, I thought someone “sent” you. Aren’t they going to be annoyed that you bailed on your assignment? And when were you helpful? You showed up uninvited and performed magic on poor Jinks that nobody wanted. Good riddance, you Hadji-wannabe.

Foster has some cute dialogue in the next scene, when the meece are talking to Jinks in the yard.

Pixie: Hi, Jinksie.
Jinks: Hi, uh, fellers. Uh, y’want some grass? Be my guest, like.
Pixie: We came to help ya, Jinks.
Jinks: Help? Like, uh, who needs help?
Dixie: You do, Jinks. You’re a cow.
Jinks: I know it. But, I was tryin’ to make the best of it. I despises people who are always, like, you know, complaining.

Boersma draws a great floppy mouth on Jinks in the dialogue close-up. Jinks is changed back to a cat. To end the gag, he pulls a piece of grass out of his mouth. Not surprisingly, he chases the meece back into the hole. Inexplicably, he does it hopping like a kangaroo, complete with old MGM sound effects. Why? He’s never done it before. I guess someone thought it was funny.

Tabu left his rope behind. Jinks manages gets it to point into the air, he climbs it and then disappears. No magic words or spells. So much for Tabu’s “power.” It was all in the rope. Pixie and Dixie quickly grab the rope so they can raid the ice box. No, they don’t tie to a door handle to open it. It seems Jinksie can’t reappear unless the rope’s around. Or something. Anyway, Pixie and Dixie chow down on cheese and the invisible Jinks wails his catchphrase as the meeces laugh. Hey, meeces, I thought you told Tabu that Jinks was your “friend.” Is that how friends treat other friends? Ah, well. Cartoon’s over. I guess we’ll have to find out next week.

Hoyt Curtin’s spooky organ makes an appearance. There’s also a recorder cue that starts off with “The Streets of Cairo” (the snake-charming song) that Curtin takes off in another direction. The minor-key version of the Flintstones melody shows up when Pixie and Dixie tell Tabu that Jinks will be a problem. There’s some other Flintstones music here, like at the start of the living room scene with the three mice and Jinks.

One last note: there’s way too much writing on the title card. It takes up the entire top half. I understand H-B was showing off its new script logo (one of two Pixie and Dixie titles cards with it), but the card would look better without it and the rest of the text moved up. And you’ll notice the mouse on the card is grey when he’s brown in the cartoon.

1 comment:

  1. This is another one I haven't seen since a 1996 Cartoon Network Pixie & Dixie " Super Chunk". I also remember hearing; " Sim Sim Sala Bim " and thinking that Ol Hadji *wasn't* the first to say this line in an H-B Cartoon. The title card on that version was the syndicated print with silence at the beginning and then simply the title card." Pixie & Dixie in Bombay Mouse ". No Animators, Layout, Background, Direction.