Saturday, 13 December 2014

Huckleberry Hound — Huck of the Irish

Produced and Directed by Joe Barbera and Bill Hanna.
Credits: Animation – La Verne Harding; Layout – Noel Tucker; Backgrounds – Bob Gentle; Written by Tony Benedict; Story Director – Paul Sommer; Titles – Art Goble; Production Supervision – Howard Hanson.
Voice Cast: Narrator, Leprechaun, Huckleberry Hound, Editor – Daws Butler.
Music: Hoyt Curtin.
First Aired: week of Dec. 4, 1961 (rerun, week of Oct. 22, 1962).
Plot: Photographer Huck tries to take a picture of a leprechaun.

Huck treads some familiar ground in this cartoon but, this time, the difference is the ground is the Auld Sod. Huck chats with the people watching him at home, mangles the local dialect, generally shrugs off the violence against him and chuckles about his ultimate failure during the final frames. But in this cartoon, Huck has a new job as a magazine photographer and has been planted on the emerald green of Ireland—“land of legends, folklore and magic,” the intoning narrator tells us at the beginning.

Here’s Bob Gentle’s opening background that is panned by the camera as the narration sets up the cartoon. And this is where I bemoan that the final year of the Huck series is not on DVD where you’d be able to see a version of this without digital fuzziness.

The opening may be yet another repeat of the Huck format, but it’s not stale. We learn from the intoning narrator that Huck is an “ace photographer, Strife Magazine.” At that point, Huck lifts his hat, turns to the camera and says “Howdy, folks, that’s me.” I always enjoy it when Huck or some other character has some byplay with either the narrator or provides plot commentary for the viewer. Come to think of it, those are things the studio started doing less and less. Characters just talked to themselves or each other. An added little bonus to this scene is Huck’s jeep needs an alignment job and the back of it kicks up into the air as it motors along. Huck closes his eyes, feeling the impact, in La Verne Harding’s artwork.

Huck expounds on his assignment to us: “Ain’t nobody ever photygraphed one of them lepracorns before.” Naturally, when Huck comes across a leprechaun, he doesn’t realise that’s what it is, even after he reads a description of one while chatting with the little fellow. Huck decides to try to mix in with the locals. “Uh, top-of-the-mornin,’ you-all. Begorrah, begosh and Erin Go Bragh,” he says, then turns to us and adds “That’s Irish talk for ‘Howdy’. You got to know all the gimmicks in this game.” And so the plot unfolds, with the leprechaun using magic to beat up on Huck, who wants to take his picture for Strife.

First, the leprechaun pulls Huck’s hat over his head and then gives him a hot foot (which burns his body). But then Huck realises who the green-suited man is. “The Irish jig is up,” he puns. The two agree the leprechaun will have his picture taken if Huck can catch him (“I’ll just meet him at the glen,” Huck tells us, “That’s more Irish talk meanin’ ‘Head ‘im off the pass’.”). That brings on a series of violence gags.

● Huck doesn’t run into the door of the leprechaun’s cave. The leprechaun then opens it on him.
● The old “just-step-back-and-back-some-more” bit. Huck falls back into a well.
● The old “stand-in-mid-air-for-only-a-while” routine. Huck plummets to the bottom of a cliff.
● The leprechaun pretends to have been roped at the top of other cliff by Huck, who can’t see that high. Huck’s roped “the blarney stone” and pulls it down onto himself.

“He’s just going to laugh himself sick. I hope,” the annoyed Huck-under-a-large-rock says to us. But the leprechaun has outsmarted himself. As he cackles, the cliff gives way, and Huck captures him when he drops to the bottom. So Huck gets to take his picture in a variety of poses, especially after the leprechaun hears it’s for the cover of Strife.

Cut to the final scene. The Strife editor is enthusiastic until he looks at the blank photos. “A leprechaun just doesn’t register on film,” he says. Ah, but that’s not the problem. Huck confides is us over the closing music that he forgot to take the cover off the lens, then gives us a limited animation version of a shamed look.

Miscellany: Daws Butler supplies all the voices in this cartoon...The sound cutter found one running sound effect for Huck and another for the leprechaun...There are no Irish-sounding cues in the underscore...The box around “Hanna-Barbera” in the episode title card was also used in “Ben Huck” and “Jinks’ Jinx.” I haven’t checked to see if there were others but the graphic idea was obviously short-lived.


  1. The "A Hanna-Barbera" box could also be seen on the Hokey Wolf short "Questing Games":

    (I know you don't care for Hokey, I was just revisiting some of his shorts)

  2. I guess they got rid of the title box idea when they realised that 'A Hanna-Barbera' makes no sense. The 'a' shouldn't be there at the start, or the word 'cartoon' should be there at the end.

  3. Snagglepuss cartoons had, don't forget, at the end "A Hanna-Barbera Snagglepuss Cartoon", a varation that at least made sense, since "Cartoon" was at the end.

    On "Huck of the Irish", always loved it, including the closing punchline..SC

  4. This is a very cool cartoon and Daws Butler is great in it, it's like 4 different actors were playing the characters. However, did anyone find it strange that Don Messick or Hal Smith are nowhere to be found. Plus the fact that newspaper editor wasn't the least bit mad at Huck for giving him a photo he can't use.

  5. Smith only did incidentals in shorts made during the 1959-60 and 1960-61 seasons. By the 1961-62 season his only H-B work was for the prime-time FLINTSTONES and JETSONS. His recurring role on THE ANDY GRIFFITH SHOW beginning in fall 1960 probably accounted for a lot of his time as well.

    It is odd that Messick wasn't in this short; he does a better 'lepra-corn' voice than Butler. Daws was also the only one used in "Huck De Paree", which made a bit more sense since he was already the established voice for Powerful Pierre.

    I think the editor was so forgiving because he theorized (too late) that leprachauns don't appear on film. But since Huck left the lens cap on, we'll never know if that's true or not.

  6. Howard, you could be right about Smith, but Alan Reed pointed out in an interview that it was great that the Flintstones tracks were cut at night so it didn't interfere with his day activities. He and Bea Benaderet were both on camera on the Peter Lind Hayes show at the same time they were doing season one of the Flintstones.
    I agree with you about the editor. If Huck got the pix, it was a bonus.

  7. Thanks, and I just realized my error in identifying THE JETSONS as a 1961-62 H-B prime-time show. I MEANT to say TOP CAT.

    While Curtin never really composed any score specifically made to sound 'Irish', the trombone-and-clarinet cue heard to open this cartoon has a nice 'cultured/British countryside' lilt to it.

  8. Howard, Hal Smith did have a role on ''The Jetsons''. He guest starred as J.P. Gottrockets on ''Millionaire Astro''.

    "Tralfaz?!? Yeeeech! - Astro.

  9. Howard, thanks for joining me in this discussion, but I am gonna have to disagree with y'all. Daws Butler does a great Irish accent and adds just the right amounts of screwy-shenanigan zest.