Saturday, 4 November 2017

Yakky Doodle in Foxy Friends

Produced and Directed by Joe Barbera and Bill Hanna.
Credits: Animation – Bob Carr, Layouts – Dan Noonan, Backgrounds – Bob Gentle, Written by Mike Maltese, Story Director – Art David, Titles – Art Goble, Production Supervision – Howard Hansen.
Voice Cast: Bigelow – Doug Young; Yakky Doodle – Jimmy Weldon; Fibber Fox, Big Brother – Daws Butler.
Music: Hoyt Curtin
Episode: Production R-46.
Copyright 1961 by Hanna-Barbera Productions
Plot: Bigelow the mouse tries to stop Fibber Fox from eating Yakky Doodle for lunch.

“Oh, no! A hero mouse! What’s the world coming to?” exclaims Fibber Fox.

Yes, it’s Bigelow, the mouse with the Jimmy Cagney voice and tough-guy persona and...and...well, nothing else.

Mike Maltese continued to drop Bigelow into the cartoon series he wrote—Augie Doggie, Snagglepuss—perhaps thinking there was something amusing about a miniature tough guy. I’m really at a loss to think of a lot of funny things Bigelow ever said or did. And there are certainly none in this cartoon.

He pushes a garbage can along a street as Fibber Fox falls toward it. “Happy landing, you big bully,” he says. When Fibber crashes into it, “Glad your dropped in, chum.” Then he shoves the can rolling into a construction pit. “Goodbye, knucklehead,” is his parting comment.

Fibber, who could be witty, just isn’t in this cartoon. “Well, gosh! If you can’t take a little joke, well, gee whiz!” is the best Fibber can muster after Bigelow lights his paper airplane on fire. The best pun he has is when he drops the garbage can over Bigelow then adds “And no cover charge, either,” before slamming the lid on. But there are times that he is sailing through the air or plummeting to the ground where he really doesn’t react at all. I’m sure Bill Hanna appreciated the cost saving of sliding a cel of a drawing over a background.

Yeah, Maltese had to churn out a story a week for Hanna-Barbera, so they all couldn’t be gems.

There’s one scene that evokes memories of his days at Warner Bros. Bigelow points to a cannon in a park and shouts to Fibber “The mouse is in there! The mouse is in there!” Fibber falls for it just as Yosemite Sam or Elmer Fudd would do. Naturally, because this is a cartoon, the cannon is live, even though it is a monument from 1891, and Fibber is fired into a police telephone on a pole. “Well, for heaven’s sake! How long do I have to wait? All I want is a doctor,” he says into the mouthpiece.

Then there’s a scene where Yakky and Bigelow start blowing up balloons to lift themselves into the air. There’s no preparatory dialogue; they just go ahead and do it. And the running gag to set up the ending doesn’t come until halfway through the cartoon. Just about every tired old impression of Cagney included the phrase “You dirty rat!” and something to do with “my brother.” Maltese brings Bigelow’s brother into the plot, as the mouse threatens the fox with him, and then the brother shows up toward the end, scaring Fibber out of the cartoon. (Daws Butler gives the brother a dopey kind of English accent). Yakky observes “Boy, Bigelow, your brother is big.” The mouse responds with “That’s right. My brother’s big, all right. But he ain’t tough. Like me, see?” Then the two laugh to end the cartoon with one of Hoyt Curtin’s familiar playoff cues in the background.

The cartoon does give you a chance to count how many times Yakky, Fibber, Bigelow or any combination thereof run past the same box shrubbery in the background. Bob Gentle is the background artist in this cartoon. He also painted courthouse/city hall clock tower. As soon as I saw the way the bricks and some of the roof boards had a thick outline, I thought “Oh, it looks likes Bob Gentle.”

There’s nothing distinctive about Bob Carr’s animation in this cartoon and all the Curtin cues are short and familiar.


  1. Maltese didn't get story credit, but was already working with Friz Freleng's unit back in 1942, when "Porky's Pastry Pirates" came out, featuring the Jimmy Cagney bee. That one fell flat, too, but Maltese may have remembered the parody and with all those H-B stories to write, dragged it out in the form of a mouse instead of a bee to see if something funny could come from a tiny, tough-guy character.

    1. Nothing is new except for what has been forgotten. We only stole from the very best.

  2. It reminds me of King-Size Canary and Jerry's Cousin.

  3. Bigelow is an interesting character because he appears in several different series and sort of takes over the plot whenever he is on the scene. He makes for a refreshing change from the formula of "Yakky threatened by Fibber who gets clobbered by Chopper" that is the normal pattern for these cartoons.

    My favorite appearance of Bigelow is in the Snagglepuss cartoon that parodies the Aesop fable "The Lion and the Mouse."

  4. I got a bootleg collection of Squiddly Diddly cartoons at a convention the other day and lo and behold, there is a cartoon where an annoying duck tries to guilt Squiddly into letting him stay with him. This duck was a much bigger asshole than Yakky though. He had a more Bugs Bunny vibe to him, but after reading all these Yakky reviews, I had to draw the comparison. H-B must have truly loved their annoying, guilt- tripping ducks to go so far as to work one into a show about a squid.