Saturday, 8 October 2016

Yakky Doodle – It’s a Duck’s Life

Produced and Directed by Joe Barbera and Bill Hanna.
Credits: Animation – Art Davis, Layout – Tony Rivera, Backgrounds – Dick Thomas, Written by Mike Maltese, Story Director – Alex Lovy, Titles – Art Goble, Production Supervision – Howard Hanson.
Voice Cast: Chopper – Vance Colvig, Yakky Doodle – Jimmy Weldon, Hunter – Daws Butler.
Music: Hoyt Curtin.
Episode: Production R-36.
Copyright 1961 by Hanna-Barbera Productions.
Plot: Chopper tries to stop Yakky from being shot by his owner.

At one point during this cartoon, Yakky Doodle asks a hunter pointing a rifle at him “Are you going to take my picture?” then starts walking along the barrel of the weapon and continues “Hey! What kind of a camera is this? That’s a telephone lens, isn’t it? It is f/3.5 or f/1.9?”

While it’s amusing to hear a little duck talk about apertures, why is it he knows about camera stops but he hasn’t a clue what a camera looks like? Or that has no idea what hunting season is? I realise Yakky is supposed to be naïve, but he should at least be consistent.

The hunter is no Mensa member either. He has no idea that duck has climbed onto his rifle and is talking to him. He still thinks the duck is sitting at the end of his barrel, ready to be shot. Shouldn’t he be able to see the duck isn’t there? Oh, wait. Judging by the animation, he’s firing a gun with both eyes closed.

While we’re at it, Chopper’s not exactly full of brain power, either. He doesn’t want to hurt Yakky’s feelings by telling him a hunter wants to kill him, so instead he tells the duck to get lost because they’re not friends any more. End result: he hurts Yakky’s feelings anyway. So why not be honest with the little duck and move the story in that direction?

Well, enough of the plot holes. If you like Chopper’s loyalty to Yakky, you may like this cartoon. If you’re looking for comedy, well, there isn’t really much here. There are echoes of other cartoons. The hunter has a Southern accent, similar to the owner of Belvedere the dog in the Warners cartoon Doggone South (1950, written by Mike Maltese). In fact, the line “Oh, Chopper! Come here, boy!” is lifted from it. Chopper’s protection of Yakky is faintly recollective of the Marc Antony and Pussyfoot cartoons at Warners (written by Maltese). Closer to home, the plot is lifted from the Yakky cartoon Duck Hunting, with Douglas the slow dog in the Chopper role. Yakky disguised as a wind-up toy to fool the hunter reminds me of a gag used somewhere else, while the character-in-the-mouth-lights-a-match came from any number of cartoons.

The cartoon ends with everything aright. Chopper makes Yakky into a paper airplane and throws him into the sky. The hunter gets a bead on him. Chopper swings like Tarzan to pluck the duck from the sky. The hunter shoots apart Chopper’s rope. Chopper falls on top of his hunter/owner, who gives up and goes home. Chopper explains his actions to Yakky and their friendship is restored.

Oh, there’s one other thing. The hunter’s gun sprayed buck shot all over Chopper’s butt. Yes, another Hanna-Barbera Butt Violation joke. “Takin’ out this buckshot with these tweezers is going to hurt me more than it does you,” says Yakky, who then laughs at his own lame and nonsensical joke. Art Davis gives the duck a sly little look. It’s the nicest part of his animation here. Earlier, he had Chopper breaking into sobs that looks so choppy, it’s like the camera department left out some of his drawings.

The oddest thing about Mike Maltese’s plot is the presence of an owner. It’s clear from the doghouse and dish in other cartoons that someone owns Chopper, but generally he talks and walks around on two legs like a human. In this cartoon, he goes from an upright character when dealing with Yakky, to one on four legs like a real dog when he’s being ordered around by his owner.

Dick Thomas painted the backgrounds and provides viewers some decorative fall flowers, though stations weren’t broadcasting prints of the show in colour in 1961.

Hoyt Curtin’s music is familiar; the cartoon opens with his tinkly, interrupted version of “Brahms’ Lullaby.”


  1. "Doggone South" was a Charlie Dog cartoon.

    1. Oh, for corn's sake. Thanks Anon. I don't know what I was thinking. It's one of the ones where Emery Hawkins did work for Jones.

  2. A big character's protection of a little one actually started in Metro cartoon from 1942, "Chips off the Old Block", directed by Rudy Ising, and featuring that (Harry Lang, not Clarence Nash-voiced) Donald Duck like cat, "Butch", reused for a scene in the third season, early Pebbles cartoon "Carry on Nurse Fred" (right down to Mel Blanc adding to his Flintstone roles by playing, with his own trademark Sylvester voice, a laundromat manager),with Pebbles, and Pixar's third film, "Monsters Inc", in 2001, with Sully and Mike...SC

  3. Vance DeBar Colvig is part Greek. He is the direct descendant of Jacob Colvig, the Frenchman, and his Greek wife, Zelesta Lyngae.

    1. Very interesting...caught that comment of yours yester..Pinto (born 1892 also Vance originally) Colvig (d.1967) a/k/a Goofy was his dad.Vance atually died, around 1991.