Saturday, 9 January 2016

Yakky Doodle – Duck the Music

Produced and Directed by Bill Hanna and Joe Barbera.
Credits: Animation – C.L. Hartman, Layout – Paul Sommer, Backgrounds – Bob Gentle, Written by Mike Maltese, Story Director – Paul Sommer, Titles – Art Goble, Production Supervision – Howard Hanson.
Voice Cast: Yakky Doodle – Jimmy Weldon; Chopper – Vance Colvig; Robin, Cat – Daws Butler.
Music: Hoyt Curtin. Episode: Production R-19 (12th of 24 Yakky cartoons in 1961 season).
Copyright 1961 by Hanna-Barbera Productions.

Have you watched those horrible made-for-TV Popeye cartoons from the early ‘60s where a character is in one position and then when the scene cuts to a close-up, they’re in a completely different position? Rushed and sloppy, right? Well, there’s one of those in “Duck the Music,” with animation by C.L. Hartman, who worked on some of those god-awful Popeyes. These are consecutive frames. Even the bushes in the background disappear.

There are some amusing premises in this cartoon but I get fed up with the pity-party duck. “Woe is me. Woe is me!” Yakky moans, walking with his head down. Later in the cartoon: “I’m a disgrace to birdland. So long” and “You promised I could sing on TV. Oh, well. My dreams are shattered.”

The duck can’t handle it when he’s told he can’t sing. Oh, suck it up. So you can’t sing. Big deal. Move on. Honestly, what a whiner.

Mike Maltese finds ways for Chopper to manage to avoid telling Yakky his singing blows. I especially like the one toward the end. Chopper is about to punch the cat.

Chopper: Any last words?
Cat: Go ahead. Get it over with.
(Yakky sings “Clementine”)
Cat: If you can honestly call that good singin’, eh, then you can punch me right in the nose.
Chopper: Uh....I couldn’t be that dishonest.
Fade in to the final sequence where Yakky is in an emptied out TV set, butchering “Camptown Races.” Cut to cats looking as horrified as you can in limited animation of 1961. Cut to Chopper with a nicely timed sight gag.

Chopper ends the cartoon by revealing he’s wearing ear plugs so he can’t hear the duck’s off-key shouts.

Colvig’s performance is pretty good here as he tries to hide his discomfort and avoid expressing how he really feels about Yakky’s caterwauling. And Jimmy Weldon’s off-key singing is good, too (you have to be able to sing to be able to sing off-key like he does).

We mentioned that Yakky sang “Clementine.” He also treats (?) us to a chorus of “(That’s) Quick Draw McGraw.” It’s an inside gag that for viewers should be pleasingly appropriate. If you want to think a bit too much about it, it’s a little odd that the latter sequence shows Yakky riding a make-shift horse when Quick Draw is, of course, a horse who didn’t make a habit of riding his own kind.

If you should feel sorry for anyone in the cartoon, it’s not the self-pitying duck, it’s the cat. All he wants to do is get some sleep. Instead, his ear drums are assaulted by screeching and the rest of him is assaulted by Chopper. Mind you, he threw a tin can at Yakky to shut him up which isn’t all that nice but is likely quite satisfying to those in the audience who aren’t Yakky Doodle fans.

Chopper (after beating up cat off-camera): What are you, a duck hater?
Cat: No, I’m a music lover. (Cat drops backwards to the ground with a thud).
Chopper: Uh, go look at the pretty flowers Yakky. You shouldn’t oughta see this.
Cat: All of a sudden, there’s a duck in my mouth. Ha, ha, ha, ha.
(Chopper punches him in the snout)
Cat: How’s about that? All of a sudden, there’s a fist in my face. (Cat drops backwards to the ground with a thud).
C.L. Hartman’s animation is really jerky in this in spots. The reason seems to be a combination of the cat’s limb movement and odd timing (by Paul Sommer?). The piece of footage below (close to the speed in the actual cartoon) has seven drawings. The second and third are held for two frames, the next (when the cat stares into the dog house) is held for eight, then the next two for two frames.

Daws gives the cat a toned down version of his Jerry Lewis voice (without the inflections and syllable accents). The sound cutter wisely keeps Hoyt Curtin’s stock music (much of it from The Flintstones) off the soundtrack when Yakky is singing.


  1. I applaud you for even being able to sit through the WHOLE cartoon, let alone write a review of it--GULP! Disdain doesn't begin to cover Yaki Doodle, like Squidly Diddly; who the (expletive deleted) thought any of that was funny? For the longest time my wife believed ALL HB cartoons were like the ones spat out from the mid-1960's and on, and then watching her get it when she was able to see the first season of The Flintstones and Huck...

  2. I rememeber this..I also remember Daws using for another cat in two Yakky's the Fibber Fox voice in turn, an impression of Shelley Berman, neither of whose titles I recall: one a remake of Friz Freleng's 1950 Warner cartoon "All A-B-iiiird" and one set in a house where Yakky is a present a la his far even more annoying TOm and jerry MGM counterpart that H-B adopted (pun). Maybe ;pre-Fibber. Try watching all of their "bubble gum"/"meddling kids" cartoons (even Catt.Cats or something like that, Anonymous!).Steve

  3. I rememebr the ear plug gag...Yakky singing Clementine is an obvious studio in joke regaridng Huckleberry Hound despite the song;s longtime existence! SC

  4. And how about the guest cameo by Mr. Jinks, at the back of that seated line-up of cats!

    1. His snout's a little stubby for Jinks, but I see what you mean, Joe.

  5. Nice, insightful review of one of the better Yakky cartoons. For me, one of the funniest parts is the where the cat does the bizarre dance cycle with Yakky stuffed in his mouth (as seen in Yowp’s screen grabs).

  6. Hartman did work as a layout artist on ''The Yogi Bear Show'', ''Jonny Quest'' and ''Jabberjaw'', and those had great animation.

    1. Unfortunately, that was all that "Jabberjaw" had...