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.


  1. 12/21/14 Wrote:
    Excellent cartoon; Maltese's sarcasm is right on target here about the glut of TV westerns that were pre-dominant during 1957-64. Imagine doing a serious scene for "Bonanza" or "Laramie"(two of my favorite old TV westerns), and suddenly getting your face smashed in by an intrusive bear that wonders in curiosity what's going on the set; of course the director would've been P.O.'d. The ranger's two-faced philosophy of TV stardom is obvious here; He's okay with the TV session on the park grounds as long as he gets a bit part, (hint? hint?) Deliciously ironic. If this western were a Screen Gems production, it might have been an episode of"Empire", a 1962-63 western that was fairly noticeable on TV at the time, but not a smash success in the ratings. Yogi's bad sense of timing on the set was terrific.

  2. Warren Foster's sarcasm, not Mike Maltese.

  3. And so the battle of wits has finally come to fists! Yogi's animal strength vs. Smith's military training & muscle (being able to lift that bear many times). Looks like Yogi has the upper hand in this brawl.

  4. 12/22/14 Wrote:
    Sorry, I did mean Warren Foster, not Mike Maltese; I got to remember my W-B writers and gag men; one worked for Chuck Jones, the other for Bob McKimson; they both wound up at H-B by 1958-60. Thanks for the reminder.

  5. This may be the flat-out funniest of the final-season Yogis.

  6. One part of this cartoon I could never work out was Yogi's line near the end as he's being pursued by Ranger Smith - "King's Ex! King's Ex!" from what I can make out. Still adds to the strong humour nevertheless, whatever its reference.

  7. Chris, I figured it was an English thing, mentioning a king and all. Try going here.

  8. When Yogi burst through the door, I was hearing All Star by Smash Mouth. (you know, like Shrek did).