Saturday, 4 February 2017

Yakky Doodle in Witch Duck-Ter

Produced and Directed by Bill Hanna and Joe Barbera.
Credits: Animation - Don Towsley, Layout - Noel Tucker, Backgrounds - Dick Thomas, Written by Mike Maltese, Story Director - John Freeman, Titles - Art Goble, Production Supervision - Howard Hanson.
Voice Cast: Yakky Doodle, green duck - Jimmy Weldon; Chopper - Vance Colvig, Witch - Jean Vander Pyl.
Music: Hoyt Curtin.
Episode: Production R-79 (fifth of eight in 1961-62 season)
Copyright 1961 by Hanna-Barbera Productions.
Plot: A witch tries to eat Yakky for her birthday dinner.

Vaudeville comedians got a lot of mileage out of jokes. They'd take a gag and "switch" it by changing the characters or location or whatever.

In animated cartoons, writers switched old gags or plots to make them seem a little different. Hanna-Barbera cartoons got to be awfully familiar after a while. Mike Maltese even switched from himself in this one.

Things start out with a witch brewing a birthday stew, but instead of a rabbit's clavicle (Broom-Stick Bunny, 1956) she needs "one small talking duck." So the witch goes out to look for one. "Like my old friend Snagglepuss says, 'Exit, stage right!'" After rejecting a non-talking green and blue duck (and 96 others), she comes across Yakky Doodle and cons him into going back to her ramshackle house and have a "nice hot bath" in the stew pot (Snow Business with Sylvester and Tweety by Warren Foster, 1951). Chopper comes to the rescue wearing disguises (Bewitched Bunny, 1954) of Hansel and Gretel which don't fool the witch in the slightest. The witch decides he's a potential meal and calls him a "smorgas boy" (Bewitched Bunny again). However, things end happily. Chopper and Yakky escape but take pity on the sobbing witch and return to her home with a birthday cake. Yakky laughs to end the cartoon (later used in virtually any episode of Scooby Doo).

Of course, some of these ideas pre-date the Warners cartoons mentioned above. It seems to me there was at least one cartoon (at another studio) with a recipe calling for "fresh crow meat."

Don Towsley is the animator in this cartoon. He has the witch staring directly at the viewer when she talks to the audience.

There's one scene where the witch supposedly bashes Chopper with her broom. He screams in pain, but the broom never touches him. It goes behind him to the floor.

Here are some brushwork examples during exits.

There are lots of background repeats in this cartoon. The witch chases Chopper past the same windows in the house seven times in one scene, then flies with Yakky past the aforementioned windows 12 times in another scene. The backgrounds are by Dick Thomas. Check out his establishing shot at the start.

And the ratty home.

Jean Vander Pyl uses her standard witch voice in this. Hoyt Curtin's music should be familiar; there's a xylophone chase theme heard from 5:22 to 6:10 that you'll recognise from The Flintstones.


  1. Your "fresh crow meat" cartoon is Buzzy Crow's No Ifs, Ands, or Butts from Famous Studios.

  2. I wanna know how she got the aardvark eggs for her brew.