Saturday, 19 August 2017

Yakky Doodle in Foxy Duck

Produced and Directed by Bill Hanna and Joe Barbera.
Credits: Animation – Art Davis, Layout – Tony Rivera, Backgrounds – Dick Thomas, Written by Mike Maltese, Story Director – Paul Sommer, Titles – Art Goble, Production Supervision – Howard Hanson.
Voice Cast: Yakky Doodle – Jimmy Weldon; Chopper – Vance Colvig; Fibber Fox, Hen – Daws Butler.
Music: Hoyt Curtin.
Episode: Production R-7 (third Yakky cartoon produced).
Copyright 1961 by Hanna-Barbera Productions.
Plot: Fibber Fox pretends to be Yakky’s mother to try to eat him.

There’s nothing like the incongruity of a fox talking to an elephant in a circus from a phone conveniently on a pole in someone’s yard. That’s why I like this cartoon even though there are some stale puns and Yakky’s motivation doesn’t make sense in one part of the cartoon.

This cartoon introduced Fibber Fox. Fibber is, far and away, my favourite character in the Yakky cartoons. Mike Maltese tried to write some buddy-buddy cartoons where stuff would happen to Chopper the dog. They just don’t work for me. Still worse, Chopper never really has a verbal comeback like Doggie Daddy when things used to happen to him. The cartoons really needed a wisecracking antagonist who talks to the audience/himself and Fibber fits the bill with varying rates of success.

Daws Butler insisted Fibber’s voice had its basis in Shelly Berman’s. I don’t hear it; the pitch and inflections are different but who am I to argue with the guy who created the voice? One thing that Fibber has in common with Berman is both did routines with an unheard voice on the other end of the phone. Fibber does that here
Fibber: Hello, Whitney? Fibber. How are things at the zoo? About the same, huh. Have much of a crowd Sunday? No, huh. Well, you know, things are tough all over, yeah. People don’t go for the zoo bit any more. They stay home and look at each other, hah. It’s different with you, Whitney. You’re an elephant. You work for peanuts.
The first half of the cartoon has a nice little routine where Fibber covers Chopper’s ears with a pair of muffs to the dog can’t hear him stealing chickens. Yakky comes along and thinks he’s listening to a radio through headphones.
Yakky: Hello, Chopper! What’s you listening to? Is it a radio show? Is it shortwave? Do you use transistors? May I listen too, please? (Yakky takes earmuffs and wears them). That’s funny. I don’t hear anything. Maybe there’s a loose connection or something.
(Fibber sees Yakky with the ear muffs)
Fibber: Oh, for heaven’s sake, no!
Yakky: Hey, I think I hear something. Somebody just said “Oh, for heaven’s sake, no!”
(Chopper dashes into the scene and threatens Fibber, who is resigned to his fate).
Yakky: What did you say? (noise and camera shakes) Wait a minute! I think I’ve got something at last. Yeah! It’s the fights. Wow-wee! Boy, oh, boy, what a battle. What a battle!
Chopper: You can take those things off now, sonny.
Yakky: Wait a minute. I want to hear who won the fight.

The camera cuts to a beat up Fibber who proclaims Chopper the winner and then passes out.

Part two of the cartoon starts off oddly. Chopper tells Yakky “You can call me Chopper.” But he did during the whole first half of the cartoon. We’ll skip the sentimental dialogue between the two and jump to where Fibber shows up in a duck costume (top half only) claiming to be Yakky’s mother.

Yakky: Are you my mama?
Fibber: Of course I’m your mama. Who’d you think I was, Yogi Bear?
Yakky: Well, I don’t know.
Now anyone familiar with Yakky and the cartoon ducks that preceded him at Hanna-Barbera and the Hanna-Barbera unit at MGM before that know they all cried in self-pity that they didn’t have a mama. Well, now that Yakky has one, he refuses to obey “her.” It would make sense if the story indicated the duck knew it was Fibber in disguise, but it doesn’t. In fact, he appears completely convinced. So why is he refusing to do what his mother asks? “I won’t! I won’t! I absolutely refuse” he yells. “I’m going to stand on my head and let all the blood rush right to my brain and [something] it.” He flips over and then angrily addresses the viewers at home. “Good bye, everybody!”

Oh, here comes the snivelling. Chopper lies that he isn’t Yakky’s friend so the duck will go with his mother. He cries. Yakky cries.

Fibber: What! Are you two bucking for the Academy Award this year?
The fake mama cons Chopper into giving him chickens to “save” Yakky from Fibber. Suddenly, the phone rings. Yakky answers. It’s Whitney for Fibber. “I’ll take that call, boy,” says the fox still dressed as a duck. Uh, oh. Fibber’s had a momentary lapse. It kind of comes out of nowhere.

Anyway, Fibber thought he was getting a chicken dinner. Instead, he’s getting dessert. “Well, you might call it that. My just desserts.” Fibber gets clobbered. There’s another weak “peanuts” pun at the end which so amuses the protagonists that they laugh to end the cartoon.

I wish I could say there was interesting artwork or movement in this cartoon, but there isn’t. We get a ghost drawing from Art Davis when Fibber rushes off screen. There are a few Flintstones cues on the soundtrack, including the trombone piece that was used every time Fred or someone had a sob story.


  1. HGmmm.a Hanna-Barbera/Mike Maltese character talking to an elephant named Whitney..where have we heard THAT before...Didn;'t Snagglepuss do that once in one of his solo cartonons..:)! Nice review..I;'m just laughing at Fibber dressed as a chicken..:)SC

  2. Self-correction: The Snagglepuss solo short I mentioned was that Robin Hood one, and Whitney appeared...I like that idea of someone talking to someone else on the phone who didn't appear otherwise..

    1. The elephant in 'Bow and Error' is called Wadsworth.

  3. Maybe Yakky's disobedient tantrum gives us a clue as to why he has no mummy. She'd had enough!

  4. "There’s nothing like the incongruity of a fox talking to an elephant in a circus from a phone conveniently on a pole in someone’s yard."

    What's with phones on poles in H-B cartoons? Such a phone, of course, is an important plot device in "Top Cat."

    Did such phones -- such as for police use -- ever actually exist in the real world?

  5. Wait a minute...just checked back into the Snagglepuss cartoon I mentiooned above..the Robin Hood one, "Arrow Error"..the elephant's "W" name wasn't Whitney but WADSWORTH...:)

  6. The fight-on-the-fake radio scene, corny and obvious as it is never fails to crack me up.