Saturday, 5 March 2016

Yakky Doodle – Duck Hunting

Produced and Directed by Joe Barbera and Bill Hanna.
Credits: Animation – Bob Bentley; Layout – Lance Nolley; Backgrounds – Dick Thomas; Written by Warren Foster; Story Director – Alex Lovy; Titles – Art Goble; Production Supervision – Howard Hanson.
Cast: Yakky Doodle – Jimmy Weldon; Douglas – Daws Butler; Hunter – Don Messick.
Music: Hoyt Curtin.
Episode: Production R-14 (sixth Yakky cartoon).
Copyright 1961 by Hanna-Barbera Productions.
Plot: Douglas the dog tries to stop his hunter/master from shooting Yakky Doodle.

One of a number of reasons the early Hanna-Barbera cartoons were popular was because they always seemed somewhat familiar. Plots and characterisations were variations on familiar old friends. They weren’t exact copies (later, they were or simply too derivative).

So in Duck Hunting, we have a dullard dog with a variation on Daws Butler’s Slapsie Maxie voice with dialogue that occasionally reminds you of those cartoon characters based on Lennie in Of Mice and Men (though the dog doesn’t call anyone “George” in this cartoon). He’s protecting Yakky from a hunter, a bit like the dog and groundhog in the Warner Bros. short One Meat Brawl and other cartoons. And there’s a gag at the end where the hunter honks on his duck call and is blasted by rifles that suddenly and unexpectedly poke out of the reeds (well, unexpected unless you’ve watched cartoons).

Familiar, too, is my refrain that I don’t like the Yakky character (though I like Jimmy Weldon’s performances), so I’ll just say that he’s continuing his quest to get a “mama” in this cartoon, though he isn’t pathetic about it this time. And instead of “Are you going to eat me, Mr. Fox?” we get “Are you going to have me shot, Douuuglas?” (The biggest gag in this cartoon is a running one where everyone stretches the “uh” in “Douglas”).

There’s no Chopper in this cartoon so the Yakky-protection gags revolve around the hunter’s incompetence or the dog’s interference. They’re not particularly strong. Early in the cartoon, we hear gunfire off-scene and then Yakky scoot into the scene with “He missed me.” Not exactly a rollicking cartoon gag. The humour in the sequence evidently is supposed to stem from the voice work, where Douglas pounds his fists on the ground, having sent Yakky away to be shot, saying “Oooooh. I have dooooone a bad thing. I’m a bad dog. I do baaaad things.” (Miraculously, he speaks during part of the scene without his mouth moving). Don Messick does a nice job in this cartoon, changing his volume as his hunter character speaks to himself on occasion. I like how he gets into the long “uhhhhh” jag and has to correct himself: “Hey, Douuuuglas! Here, boy! Where are you, Douuuuuglas? There’s a duuuuuck, I mean a duck around here some place.” And Weldon’s funny when the hunter puts his rifle to the duck’s head and he lets out with a short “Eek!”

The best gag comes early in the cartoon. Douglas sits and looks around for some ducks. Finally, he jumps up and points. “Good boy. A whole flock of them,” says the hunter, who opens fire. “Hey, yippee! I got ‘em all!” he cries and rushes out of the scene. He realises what he’s shot. “Those are my decoys,” he says, “All they’ll attract is ducks with holes in ‘em.” The hunter obviously isn’t very bright, either (or maybe he’s just nearsighted).

I haven’t checked, but this may be the only Yakky that Foster wrote. Mike Maltese and Tony Benedict handled the series.

Douglas’ design is very much in the studio style, and it’s very good. He looks a little slow in the head. Here’s the opening pan.

Backgrounds in this cartoon are by Dick Thomas. The colours and tall grass designs are much like he used in another cartoon called Gone to the Ducks, starring the earlier, green-headed version of Yakky with Augie Doggie and Doggie Daddy.

Bob Bentley’s animation gets the characters from here to there and that’s about it. There’s an animation error in one of the walk cycles. Yakky loses a cheek in one drawing.

At one point, the duhhh-ing dog says “I don’t feel one way or the other.” That’s kind of how I feel about this cartoon. It’s a pleasant time-filler, but not loaded with laughs.


  1. Douglas might best be remembered from the Hokey Wolf cartoons with the weary farmer. Interesting to see these crossovers (and Yakky around this time appeared in one with Snagglepuss too.)Steve C

  2. Warren Foster wrote one other Yakky short, "Easter Duck", which also lacked Chopper but featured a cat somewhat similar in personality to Fibber Fox. As far as I know, this is Don Messick's only appearance in the series.

    1. Ah, Howard, thanks for refreshing my memory as to one of the "cat that sounds like Fibber" shorts, "Easter Duck". There was a (Tweety) "All A-Birrrd" remake with Chopper, Yakky & this cat (voiced by Daws Butler, of course). Butler at the time,also used the voice for the "Fractured Fairy Tales" take on the Ugly Duckling when he sought startdom to the tune of the Capital stock music-Shelley Berman inspired.)

      I also don't recall any other Messick encounters in Yakky. The dog Douglass from Hokey and this dates back with his name to a 1958 Pixie and Dixie, "Puppet Pals". I love his enormous attackk of conscince there when he thinks he's killed someone ("I killed that cat"-referring to Jinks) and in "Duck Hunting"-"I'm a baaaad dog. I do baaaad things. Bad dog Baaaaaad dog>")SC

    2. And I think Easter Duck and that one with the cat, Chopper and Yukky I mean Yakky on train a la Friz Freleng's "All-Abirrrrd"(1950) were pre-Fibber Fox.

    3. Yes, it's interesting that Fibber wasn't a series regular from the beginning the way Chopper was. Bill and Joe must have decided after a few episodes that Yakky needed a regular antagonist/foil, so along came Fibber- who really injected life into the series. He was kind of a composite of the cat characters from the two earlier shorts you've mentioned, but had his own distinct personality quirks.