Saturday, 5 November 2016

Yakky Doodle in Full Course Meal

Produced and Directed by Bill Hanna and Joe Barbera.
Credits: Animation – Don Towsley, Layout – Tony Rivera, Backgrounds – Dick Thomas, Written by Tony Benedict, Story Director – John Freeman, Titles – Art Goble, Production Supervision – Howard Hanson.
Voice Cast: Yakky – Jimmy Weldon, Chopper – Vance Colvig, Alfie Gator – Daws Butler.
Music: Hoyt Curtin.
Episode: Production R-77 (fifth of eight Yakkys in 1961-62 season).
Copyright 1962 by Hanna-Barbera Productions.
Plot: Alfie Gator tries to eat Yakky Doodle for dinner but Chopper gets in the way.

“And so ends another happy tale with the villain vanquished. Namely (breathes) me.” So we, the audience, are told at the end of this cartoon by Alfie Gator, modelled by writer Tony Benedict on Alfred Hitchcock.

Back when this cartoon was made, the famed director hosted a TV show called Alfred Hitchcock Presents. Benedict loved it so much, he parodied it in the Yakky Doodle cartoons. Hitchcock alerted his viewers, in elegant language, that he was about to pause for a commercial message, then welcomed them back when the ad break was finished. Alfie does the same thing. Daws Butler doesn’t imitate Hitchcock but borrows some of his vocal mannerisms (including heavy breaths during sentences) and takes the mush out of his mouth, leaving a detectable accent. Hitchcock arrived and departed in a silhouette. Alfie does the same (at least at the end of this cartoon).

Benedict mines humour in this cartoon from the Hitchcock show familiarity because the gags themselves aren’t all that strong. The first half of the cartoon is taken up with the well-worn scenario of a small character being invited for dinner, floating around in a pot of water on a stove and then being told he’s the dinner.

Chopper: How can you eat that poor, little innocent duck?
Alfie: (breathes) I force myself.

One of the things that’s enjoyable about Alfie is his complete disdain for Chopper and the dog’s boorish, rough-housing attitude. It’s completely beneath his dignity, which he doesn’t hesitate to tell the audience. Of course, that doesn’t stop him from being pummelled.
Chopper: Ya know what I’m gonna do?
Alfie: (breathes) I suspect you are going to resort to some crude form (breathes) of physical vi-o-lence.
Yes, that’s exactly what happens.

The next gag involves Alfie leaving a trail of bread crumbs to catch the duck in a pot. But Chopper eats the crumbs instead. Alfie mistakenly clobbers Chopper with the pot. You kind of know what’s going to happen next.

Alfie: I beg your pardon (breathes), but this constant interference is becoming quite annoying. I suppose now you will indulge in a childish temper tantrum. (Chopper clobbers Alfie with the pot). Disgusting trait to find in a fully-grown dog. Tsk, tsk, tsk.
Next, Alfie uses a bow with a plunger attached to a rope as an arrow to “snare my duck dinner.” Yakky (if you’ll pardon the pun) ducks. Again, you know what’ll happen.
Alfie: (to Chopper) Good heavens, it’s you. (to audience) He doesn’t seem to understand (breathes) that I find his presence disturbing. (to Chopper) Before you assault me with that plunger (breathes), I should like to grovel at your feet and (breathes) plead for mercy.
Chopper: Aw, I wasn’t gonna hit you with this old plunger.
Alfie: Good. I shall be forever grateful.
And as you might have guessed, Chopper punches him in the nose instead.

Those are the gags. Alfie ends the cartoon by fading away until next time, just like we might expect from Hitchcock himself.

Hoyt Curtin wrote a cue based on Hitchcock’s theme “Dance of the Marionettes.” For whatever reason, the sound cutter doesn’t use it in this cartoon. But the music that is heard is familiar from The Flintstones and Hanna-Barbera short cartoons of this time period.

There’s nothing distinctive or really very interesting in the artwork in this cartoon. And with that, I shall fade away until next time. Good night.


  1. This is one instance where adult references may work against a cartoon. As I have shared in earlier posts on this character, when I was young I never "got" the character of Alfie Gator. I didn't understand why he was so civilized and "nice" yet he kept resorting to the villainy of trying to eat Yakky. It seemed a contradiction of his personality.

    Now as an adult, familiar with Hitchcock and the TV show "Alfred Hitchcock Presents" (which thankfully still survives in late-night reruns), I can appreciate the humor. Hitchcock's introductions are of a predatory nature, as far as his plan is to thrill or shock his audience to some degree. So it transfers readily (?) to a predatory alligator trying to capture a helpless duck. It's funny, in places howlingly funny, when you understand the reference.

    My parents and I never watched "Alfred Hitchcock Presents" so I had no clue why the character of Alfie Gator behaved (and breathed) as he did. I wonder if other kids were as bewildered as I was whenever this character showed up?

    1. I don't remember ever watching a full episode, but I must have seen promos or at least a portion of the show because I got the reference.
      Yakky doesn't do a lot in this cartoon. It's pretty much Chopper vs Alfie, and I'm afraid I'm not much of a Chopper fan.

    2. I experienced the same confusion over the character as a kid. I realized he was a reference to something- possibly because I'd also seen a Hitchcock parody on The Flintstones. Perhaps I'd even caught glimpses of the actual Hitch on TV by that point, but at such a young age, his work was generally too grown-up and/or tense for me, so I didn't really know who he was.

      I tried asking my parents who this character was meant to be a spoof of, and I'm sure they could have if they'd seen it for themselves or if I'd been able to do a better job explaining it, but they had no clue what I was talking about.

  2. Just watched it. Wow, Alfie Gator is about as dreary and deadly dull as any character out of the HB canon. Yakky deserved better adversaries.

    1. We can't all have villains like The Chairman, Dr. Scratchensniff and Ralph the Guard, Mr. Ruegger. :) Loved your show.

  3. Alfie was – and remains – my favorite “secondary” H-B character.

    Then again, I also have memories of seeing “Alfred Hitchcock Presents”, as well as “Boris Karloff Presents Thriller”, in first run at the time this cartoon aired. So, I got the joke, when other similar references still passed over my widdle head.

    Indeed, I daresay it’s those “adult references” (that my good friend Scarecrow33 refers to) that made the early H-B product SO much better than what was to follow for decades to come.

  4. I remember seeing Alf, unlike Scarecrow, and of course Yakky was not the only cartoon to make references to him...just using the same TV season, Hanna-Barbera themselves used Hitchcock (as voiced by the occasionally heard, and forgotten, but still living Elliott Field, covered several times on this blog) in "The Flintstones" (on an episode which, DID, like the one where Fred has a weird, "Frederick" amnesia from hitting himself with a bottle after accidentally drinking its apparently poisonous contents, which thankfully have no internal impact, and which guested Howard MacNear as the first of many doctors on the show, Season 1, Episode 5, "The Split Personalaity", DID use the aforementioned Hoyt Curtin "Dance of the Marionettes"-"Hitchock" theme-no Alf connection in the second Flintstone episode mentioned by me except Barney's watching a TV show with a scary theme and thus the music comes when Bea Benadaret as Betty:"BARNEY....WHY can'tcha be more like FREDICK"..) Then there was WB's Sylvester, Granny, and Tweety "Last Hungry Cat' in the theatres (which had Sylvester being guilty thinking he has dined on the bird...then finding Tweety's living, kisses it, but then almost eats it, and gets broom-whacked by Granny who would've whacked Sylvester just for being near Tweety! Then one of the Snooper/Blabber shorts in 1959-60? used a Hitchcock like theme.) And now..Good EVE-EN-ing from Gumby's horse pal (though Gumby never used a Hitchcock caricature, though there was the post-AH Presents "Haunted Hotdog" which introduced Nopey, the little terrier with the "always says only no" gag..a one trick puppy, to twist a phrase.)

    1. You bring up The Flintstones and Hitchcock and fail to mention "Alvin Brickrock Presents"?

    2. I was the first episode I broughr up..with the obscure Elliott Field as Hitchcock. I almost forgot the title, "Alvin Brickrock Presents".

  5. Chopper (busts down the door to save Yakky from Alfie): Now that's not very nice!
    Alfie: I assume you are referring to entering without knocking. LOL

  6. While listening to this cartoon from upstairs in another room without the benefit of actual seeing it on TV, the entertainment value to me of this cartoon to me is the absurdity between the way Alfy Gator talks and speaks is in total contrast to his actions. Every time I still think about this it still cracks me up. I can understand why someone said Hanna Barbara cartoons is illustrative radio.