Saturday, 27 September 2014

Huckleberry Hound — Huck dé Paree

Produced and Directed by Joe Barbera and Bill Hanna.
Credits: Animation – Ken Southworth, Layout – Tony Rivera, Backgrounds – Art Lozzi, Written by Tony Benedict, Story Director – Lew Marshall, Titles – Art Goble, Production Supervision – Howard Hanson.
Voice Cast: Huckleberry Hound, Narrator, Pierre – Daws Butler.
Music: Hoyt Curtin.
First Aired: week of February 26, 1962.
Production No E-182.
Plot: Gendarme Huck tries to capture bank robber Powerful Pierre.
Title card courtesy of Scott Awley, a Hanna-Barbera artist.

This is the fifth and final cartoon where Huckleberry Hound takes on Pierre. Pierre loses every time, though he brings down his own downfall in this one. And it’s deserved, as Pierre is arrogant and self-satisfied, as opposed to the affable Huck.

The plotline in this one pretty much follows the usual drill. A narrator sets up the plot, Huck goes through a series of failures, commenting to us all along the way, and either wins or loses in the end. One difference this time is Huck doesn’t talk to the narrator.

My favourite bit comes at the end of the cartoon. “Well, that just about wraps up another case,” Huck tells us. “ ‘Cept for this here stolen money. I just got to re-turn it to the right bank. Or was it the left bank?”

The pun here is Huck is in Paris, home of the Left Bank. But anyone who is geographically challenged can still appreciate the silly play on words.

But that’s the end. Let’s go through things in chronological order because, well, it reads better than the original draught of this post which contained random musings in no particular order.

Daws Butler uses his Loopy De Loop voice over Art Lozzi’s background drawings of Paris for about 12 seconds (meaning no animation) and introduces our hero, who is a French police officer in this cartoon. Dropping Huck into Paris gives him a chance to butcher the French language while acting like an expert. “Bon jowr, mon sewers! That’s French-talk for ‘Howdy’,” he tells us in the opening.

Being in Paris evidently inspires Huck to Frenchify the lyrics for his chanson de choix.

Frère Jacques, frère Jacques,
Frere Jacques Clementine!
Frère Jacques, frère Jacques
And her shoes are number nine!

A cute bit is Huck having to remind himself he’s French in this cartoon. He picks up the police phone and says “Officer, uh, I mean Jond-army Huckleberry checkin’ in, sir.” Well, it’s kind of a police phone. Bank robber Pierre comes over and borrows it to talk to Louie at “zee hangout.” How the phone line manages to be connected to the police station, then the hangout, then the police station again is a finer point that writer Tony Benedict doesn’t worry about. It’s one of those cartoon things, I guess.

During this whole scene, Huck doesn’t clue in that the guy with the bag of money who borrowed the phone was Pierre. Nevertheless, he goes to “where most robbers holes up—77 Rue de la Strip.” It even has an awning, though it’s not triangular like the one outside 77 Sunset Strip where “you meet the highbrow and the hipster, the starlet and the phoney tipster” as the theme song says. No, at this 77, you meet Powerful Pierre, as he plays a Bugs-and-Elmer style non-recognition game where Huck reads out the description of Pierre but doesn’t realise that’s who he’s talking to until he gets the bum’s rush out of the place. “Oh, Gar-kon! That’s more French talk meanin’ ‘anybody home?’” Huck tells us.

Huck now tries to capture Pierre. He—
● crashes his bicycle into a door.
● uses his cape as a set of wings but smashes into a flagpole hanging from a building (“I guess this cape was just for looks after all.”)
● gets burned feet when he jumps through the chimney onto the roof into the fireplace below (Pierre lights the fire).
● makes a battering ram out of a log which bounces off Pierre’s stomach and sends him flying back onto the street.
● runs into a door after Pierre closes it.
● lets a rope ladder down from a helicopter to try to get in through a window, but Pierre, leaning out the window, cuts the rope (“Touché! And even Three-ché!” says Pierre in a line worthy of Mike Maltese).

Huck lands in the awning, and Pierre treats him like a tennis ball, swatting him with a racket down to the awning below, and the awning bouncing him, trampoline-style, back up to the window. Unfortunately for Pierre, he missed, Huck lands on him and the two plummet through the awning to the sidewalk below. The next to last scene has Pierre in a jail cell.

Finally, we get a reprise of the revised Clementine song to close the cartoon. Hanna-Barbera was known for short-cuts and there was one that could have been taken at the end, but wasn’t. Daws sang the same lyrics both times. The first version could easily have been used again and Ken Southworth’s animation reused. But because Daws sang the closing version a little differently, Southworth had to animate it differently to fit Daws’ mouth movements (the same repeating background drawing was used, and Huck walks past the same door four times).

I was hoping to snip together Art Lozzi’s streetscape but found the most unusual thing. The end of the background doesn’t match what’s supposed to be the same artwork at the front. You don’t notice because the buildings on the drawing are whizzing by quickly but if you look at these consecutive frames, you’ll see the green building on the left has suddenly developed two red chimneys.

Daws is solo in this cartoon, one of two Hucks this season where he handled all the voices. The music is familiar from both “Top Cat” (a good portion of the underscore) and “The Flintstones.” The cue “Working in the Gravel Pit” (aka “Slate Gravel Co.”) when Huck gets “plumb mad” and runs into the door.

1 comment:

  1. 9/28/14 Wrote:
    LOL....77 Rue De La Strip. I'm sure Edd "Kookie" Byrnes got a laugh out of this if he ever saw this cartoon.