Hit the Beach (Part 12)
Summertime is waning fast, and we again find ourselves running out of peak hours for sunbathing and peeling skin. The season for the beach bug migration discussed last week is rapidly coming to a close, despite several remaining beach cartoons yet to be discussed in our chronological review. I think it best at this time to save a small reserve of these later episodes to provide subject matter for a subsequent summer, possibly in combination with the leftovers from last year’s “Toons Trip Out” vacation series. So we’ll pack away the notes on these items into our travel bags, for the inevitable trip homeward, as the summer sun sinks slowly in the West.
Ersatz (Surogat) (Zagreb Films, 12/31/61 – Dusan Vucotic, dir.) – An odd coincidence, that the Oscar nominees from 1961 would feature two different films centered on beachfront activities – Goofy’s Aquamania, discussed last week, and this unusual and impressionistic European Oscar winner – which manages to be universally funny without a word of dialogue. Against backgrounds which are little more than patterns or splashes of color (reminiscent of James Culhane or Chuck Jones efforts we have encountered previously, or the house style of theatrical UPA), we are introduced to a strange little, triangular shaped man who has come to the seashore for a day of relaxation. Emerging from a sort of bubble car, the little man, who engages in a never-ending, sped-up sing-song of “Dee da dah dah dah”, first tests the water with one toe. His large toe converts into a thermometer, with a temperature reading that the water is just right. He empties out onto the sand a small pile of what appear to be random geometric and non-geometric shapes of various colors, then produces a bicycle pump. Attaching the hose of the pump to one of the random shapes, we discover that each of the objects he has brought along is an uninflated balloon. Add a little air, and they produce a tent, an air mattress, a table and chair, a small palm tree, and a powerboat with motor! The man returns to his car, empties the trunk to reveal his “trunks” – a small, T-shaped bathing suit – then pulls a stopper out of the rear of the car, which is also a balloon, and deflates to almost a flat line, allowing the man to conveniently “park” the car by tossing it into the fronds of a tree. In a scene that might not have passed muster with the American censors of the day, but is nevertheless hilarious, the man begins to change out of his pants into the bathing suit, forgetting for a moment he is visible in public. Modesty makes him stop short of removing his garment, and he reinserts his leg into his trousers, then hits upon a solution – or at least what seems suitable to him. Kicking at the sand with one foot, the man digs a small hole in the ground – then buries his head in it like an ostrich. With his identity now concealed, he has no qualms about tugging off the bathing suit, briefly revealing his stylized but totally bare butt, and pulling on his swimwear. Fully believing he has satisfied convention, the man pulls his head back out into view, and proceeds ahead for his day of leisure.
The man further inflates his table to larger size, then grabs a few more balloons, to inflate a frying pan and a campfire pit. Another balloon produces a rod and reel, and yet another, a fish. Although he is already holding the fish in hand, the man believes in the sport of things, and hooks the full size fish to his line as if it were bait, tosses it into the ocean, then reels in the same fish as his catch. He then places the fish on the frying pan, humanely closing its eyes while it is being fried. When the fish is ready, the man tosses him like a flapjack, over his shoulder. He then zips ahead of the fish over to the table, holding out a plate as if to catch the fish. His toss, however, misses the plate entirely, landing the fish directly in his open mouth. The man remains unphased, reaching a hand into his mouth, to pull the fish out by the tail – with the body already devoured in the split second of its time inside the man, leaving nothing but a bony skeleton to place on the plate. The man tops off his dinner with a bottle of wine, from which he milks the contents like a cow’s udder, then downs from a champagne glass. As he rises from his small, round-shaped seat, the man’s water-logged belly sags to the ground – so he inverts the chair, using its feet to prop up his belly, and the round seat to act as a wheel, to roll his belly-weight along as he walks back to his encampment.
Now the man craves some companionship. Reaching for the pump and another balloon, the man pimps into existence a living, breathing girlfriend! However, he is displeased with the design of his companion, who is to fat around the hips, and pulls a plug on her toe, deflating her back into a small dot, which he tosses away over his shoullder. Selecting another balloon he prefers, he inflates a more shapely young thing, drawn in unique stylized fashion, including positioning of bosoms in a vertical line, one atop the other. The man approves, but seeks a bit larger endowment, so (again in decidedly European style), adds a few more pumps of air to get her bustline to desired size. However, his companion has a mind of her own, and when the man tries to get fresh with a string of kisses, she slaps him a good one across his face, turning his head beet red. The man runs to the water and submerges his head to relieve the pain, while the girl takes advantage of his bent-over position, and uses him as a platform to dive from into the water. The man seeks to impress the girl, by making humself look the hero. He returns to his stack of balloons, and pumps up an inflatable shark. While he is dragging it down to the water, the girl spots him suspiciously. The man attempts to conceal his purposes, by turning the balloon inside out with a zipper sound, making it briefly assume the shape of a beach umbrella. When the girl looks away again, he reconverts the balloon to shark form, and tosses it into the water. The shark menaces the girl, while the man offers aid by casting to her the line from his rod and reel. The girl not only climbs the line out of the shark’s reach, but surrealistically keeps right on climbing, taking the line upwards above the rod, extended to its full length as if she were performing the Indian rope trick. The man reels her in, bringing her back onto the shore. Then, to prove his bravery, the man dons a scuba mask and carries a harpoon gun into the water. The woman thinks him a sure candidate for a grizzly end, and in her mind’s vision transforms into a mouurner wearing a black funeral gown and carrying a candle. But the man appears from the water unharmed, carrying behind him an oversize sardine can containing his catch. The girl applaus, and the man flexes his muscles triumphantly. But the key of the sardine can unwinds, revealing the shark, who just laughs at them, then reveals the man’s ruse, by simply pulling his own air plug and deflating himself before the man’s and girl’s eyes. Realizing she’s been duped, the girl struts off in a huff, while the man pounds himself on the head and delivers a kick into his own pants to punish himself for the failure of his plan.
Well, never say die. The man next attempts to impress the girl by being playful, darting under her feet and bouncing her up and down as if she were riding a horse. While she briefly enjoys the ride, she suddenly sees something much more desirable – a huge he-man hunk with pompadour hair, riding by on water skis. The girl makes a quick switch, substituting the table in place of herself atop the man’s back, and is soon riding on the shoulders of the hunk, toward a romantic island a distance away. When the man realizes the girl has given him the “air”, he again pounds himself for his stupidity, and sets after the couple in his outboard motorboat. Creeping up upon them in a romantic cliche on the island’s shore, the man pulls the toe plug from the girl, letting her deflate to nothing within the hunk’s arms. The hunk takes this blow much in the fashion that Pepe Le Pew might do, and decides to die for lost love, by pulling a plug on his own finger – revealing that he was a balloon too! His vengeance satisfied, the little man motors back to his camp – taking out the entire bottom of his boat in a rough landing on shore. He then reinflates his car, and deflates all of his other balloons, packing them into the trunk. To add a surprise, he pulls a plug attached to the sandy shore – and deflates the entire seashore background too, tossing it into the trunk along with the other balloons. Now, against a bare background, the man produces from the car a new balloon not seen before, and gives it numerous pumps of air. The balloon unrolls into a long, snaking roadway complete with traffic signs, providing the route home. The man hops in his car and motors home happily – but with one fatal catch. A stray metal nail has somehow managed to come to rest on the roadway. The tires of the car come into contact with it – and not only do they puncture, but the car and the entire roadway as well. The man is tossed into the air, and falls helpless toward the ground, saying his prayers. He lands flat n his back with a violent thud – and an air plug pops out from the man’s pinky finger. Yes, even he was a balloon, and deflates to nothing before our eyes. The only object left surviving on the screen is the bent nail, as the words “The End” appear on the screen in six languages, and the nail visibly vibrates with the sound of a giggle, for the fade out. (One can only wonder how many times the creators of this film had seen Ub Iwerks’ “Bal;oon Land” before coming up with the concept.)
For my own personal reasons, I shall bypass in this article the brief beach sequences of Gene Deitch’s 1962 Tom and Jerry voyage Calypso Cat, as I plan later use of this episode in a future article to be produced – so be patient, Toonsters, it will come another day.
Hawaiian Escapade (Hanna-Barbera, The Flintstones, 1/16/62) – Betty and Wilma are preparing a barbecued steak for the boys’ dinner, but abandon their watch over it when their favorite TV program, “Hawaiian Spy” (parody on Warner Brothers’ “Hawaiian Eye”) comes on. They remain glued to the set as star Larry Lava swings from vines, wrestles alligators, and generally flexes his muscles, while the steak burns to a crisp. The boys arrive to find an unrecognizable mess in the barbecue pit. Fred thinks the girls started the fire with old shoes instead of charcoal, until Barney points out the “old shoes” were their former dinner. Fred storms into the house to deliver a verbal tirade, but still can’t break the girl’s attention span from the set. Seeing portions of the show for the first time, he insists Larry Lava is a fake, and Barney opines that it’s all done with mirrors. Fred comments that a real he-man wouldn’t even need a stunt double like those Hollyrock phonies, and enumerates his own athletic accomplishments at bowling, football, etc. as examples of his prowess. Meanwhile, at the studio, things are cooking with the sponsor (owner of breakfast cereal Rock Toasties), who insists that high followings from the female demographics don’t make up for total lack of ratings among the males. The producer insists tonight’s contest announcement will solve the problem. As a disgruntled Barney and Fred head out to get their own dinner from a diner, an announcement comes over the TV for he-men to send in their essays on “Why I Like Rock Toasties” for a chance at an all expenses paid trip for two to Hawaii, and a one-episode appearance on Hawaiian Spy. Wilma says it sounds like they were aiming the contest at boastful Fred, and hatches an idea as a lark – send in an entry with a forged name. The girls’ essay boasts of the entrant’s setting records at water skiing, climbing mountains, and wrestling dinosaurs, all with the energy boost of Rock Toasties. Wilma signs it “Barney V.I. Flintstone” (the “V.I.” standing for “Vivid Imagination”). Sure enough, the entry wins. The boys return home another night to find the girls practicing the hula, while a flaming blaze in the barbecue pit has to be put out with a fire hose, as another steak bites the dust (and turns into same). But the attraction of an appearance on TV plus vacation quickly softens Fred’s disposition – and boosts his already inflated ego. Barney protests which two get to go on the trip, and Wilma figures out a solution – Fred uses his salary for making the TV appearance to pay Betty and Barney’s way. Hawaii, here they come.
At the islands, Betty and Wilma realize this is becoming a working holiday, as they “keep up apearances” at Fred’s insistence as his entourage, carrying Fred’s make-up kit and folding chair with his asumed name on it. Barney also tags along on the set as Fred’s manager. Larry Lava is entirely unimpressed, and the director has planned for Fred only one line at a luau feast, “Pass the poi.” Fred isn’t going to sit for being ignored, and not only pads his line with natural hamminess, but intrudes upon a knife dance, to the director’s consternation. Lava and the director complain to the sponsor that he has to go, but the sponsor insists he stays, reading from Wilma’s letter his accomplishments in water skiing, wrestling dinosaurs, etc. “So that makes him an actor?” says the producer. “No. That makes him a stunt man”, replies the sponsor. The sponsor calls for some script rewrites to add stunts ‘that will grow hair back on your head.”
Fred is recast as King Kamehameha, and told to ride in on a surfboard on the crest of a wave, waving to his people. Fred, who’s never surfed in his life, almost chickens out, but when challenged to prove his own bio as a champion athlete, faces the waves. He manages to achieve standing position and complete the shot, and starts to believe he’s pretty good – until he crashes ino a pair of palm trees on the shore, with the board wedged between them, vibrating up and down over Fred’s head, to hammer hum down into the sand. The next scene poses even bigger threats, as Larry films only an approach to a tethered dinosaur, then Fred is substituted in as double to wrestle the beast. The dino’s leash is released, and Fred runs for his life, while the director complains for him to wrestle and stop wasting film. Wilma and Betty finally figure what is happening, and that they’re making Fred do everything in their letter that they know he can’t. Wilma says “enough” and calls to Fred, “We’re going home.” Fred would love to oblige, but still has the dinosair in pursuit. As Fred passes, Wilma simply holds out her feminine fist, socking the dinosaur in the nose, and says, “Beat it, buster.” The dinosaur runs off whimpering – while the camera gets it all on film. Back in Bedrock, Wilma tries yet again to make up to Fred with a steak dinner, but burns them again when she receives an unexpected telephone call – from the show’s sponsor. Seeing the way she socked the dinosaur, the company wants to build a whole show around Wilma. Fred arrives with fire hose and a good mind to have Wilma spoken to by Smokey the Bear, to overhear Wilma turning down the offer of stardom, insisting that the only star billing she wants in her life is the title of Mrs. Fred Flintstone. Wilma suddenly remembers the steaks, and comes face to face with Fred. Instead of a chastising, Fred offers to take her out for the biggest restaurant dinner of her life – just so long as she stays his Mrs. Flintstone. Carried in Fred’s arms to the car, Wilma states she should burn Fred’s steaks more often.
Tattoo Tootsie Goodbye (King Features/Paramount Cartoon Studios, Beetle Bailey, 1964 – Setmour Kneitel, dir.) (Writing credit is notable, given to both Allan Melvin and Howard Morris, principal voice men for the series.) – Beetle has requested a birthday cake from camp chef Cookie, who has topped same with well written lettering, “Happy Birthday, Bunny”, to present to Beetle’s girlfriend. Beetle pours on the compliments to Cookie, calling him “a Rembrandt of the rolling pin, a Van Gogh of the dough.” Beetle brags that chicks are a cinch if you know the combination, and that he has Bunny “all locked up”. At that moment, Cookie spots out the window Bunny crossing the parade grounds, arm in arm with a burly sailor. “I think the Navy just juggled your tumblers”, he informs Beetle. Beetle races outside to find out who the competition is. “What’s with the Godzilla of the flotilla?”, he inquires. Bunny introduces him to “Seymour S. Seymour” (the “S” stands for Seymour – an interesting in-joke line obviously referencing Paramount’s longstanding director), an old school chum of Bunny’s who has joined anther branch of the armed forces. She describes him as “very stupid to talk to, but very scenic to look at”. “Oh, the picture”, says Seymour, and reveals a finely-detailed tattoo on his arm of a hula girl, who dances and sways as Seymour flexes his muscles. He and Bunny walk off, headed for a day at the beach, while Beetle vows, “She wants artwork! I’ll give her artwork!” Returning to the camp kitchen, Beetle requests of Cookie, “Make like a Rembrandt. It’s an emergency.”
On the beach, Bunny sits in a beach blanket in her bathing suit, while now bare chested Seymour continues to present dancing performances from his hula maiden. Beetle darts in front of him, now also bare chested and in a bathing suit, and states, “But on the other hand…” He reveals his own arm muscles. Now, on one arm, perform a quartet of chorus girls, with precision high kicks like the New York Rockettes, while on his other arm, four gentlemen in evening attire cheer and applaud from the tables of a night club. Seymour states he has to “shove off” for a minute, and makes a hasty visit to his favorite tattoo parlor, requesting his own emergency assistance. Several minutes later, while Beetle asks if Bunny wants to have his dancing girls perform the twist or the mashed potato, a small artillery shell soars past Beetle’s head. Through the miracle of implausible cartoon physics, the shot has come from the chest of Seymour, upon which he displays a full-chest tattoo of a powerful battleship. Bunny is majorly impressed, stating that Seymour is a veritable recruiting poster. Beetle now asks for a chance to be excused, and seeks Cookie’s help again for reinforcements. He returns with an opening volley over Seymour’s head, displaying his own chest artwork of a mighty Army tank. The two angry rivals test each other’s strength, by firing volley after volley of shells at each other. But Bunny intervenes, calling for a cease-fire, and refers to both of them as dum-dums. She walks out on both of them, announcing that she is going swimming – “and don’t bother to join me.” The two rivals exchange accusations of blame at one another, and continue to bicker as to who can blast who, ignoring the fact that Bunny, for reasons unknown, is calling for help from the water. Beetle is finaly the first to realize Bunny may be in peril, and invites Seymour to join in the rescue. Seymour says he’d like to, but he can’t swim! (Great qualifications for a Navy sailor.) Beetle performs the rescue, and is called a hero by Bunny. However, she spots that Beetle is now bare armed and bare chested, with no more pictures visible. Beetle’s artwork was in cake frosting, and melted in the water. “And I’m all washed up”, bemoans Beetle, assuming the loss of his gallery means the end of his romance. “You’ve got it all wrong”, saus Bunny, fully aware of who didn;t come to rescue her. “He’s all washed up”, she states, in voice that Seymour can plainly hear. The disappointed Seymour looks down at his chest, as the old gag is revisited of his battleship tilting nose-first downward, and sinking into the waters of his own tattoo, for the iris out.
Hawaiian Aye Aye (Warner, Tweety and Sylvester, 6/27/64, Gerry Chiniquy, dir.) – Tweety doesn;t get to do much in this film other than to share uncredited star billing, as oddly, neither Sylvester’s nor Tweety’s name appears above the title of this late series entry. Another familiar name is also absent – possibly, usual series director Friz Freleng had already absented himself from the studio at the time of this production for the greener pastures of founding his own animation studio, so longtime animator Gerry Chiniquy receives a rare director’s credit. The scene opens on a beach in Honolulu, where vacationing Granny has a private hut on a remote beach reserved, and tries out the native fashion, appearing in a mu mu. Tweety, wearing a shade hat inside his cage and seated on a miniature beach chair with a small ukelele, gives Granny a complimentary wolf whistle, and provides musical background for Granny to sway her stuff. Tweety sings the old ditty, “Hula Lou” with all the usual substitutions of “w”s for “l”s and “r”s. (A curious deviation from character model appears only in this short, in which Tweety, for the only time in his career, wears a small bow tie, much like Boo Boo Bear – no doubt, a money-saving device learned from the limited animation of Hanna-Barbera, providing a separation line between head and body so that full-body cels did not have to be created for every change of drawing, but only a series of interchangeable heads while body poses remained motionless on a single cel. The bowtie device would later be similarly used by Hanna Barbera to cheapen the animation of Jerry Mouse on the 1970’s “Tom and Jerry Show”.) Granny leaves to attend a luau, but remembers before leaving that she hasn’t fed Sharkey. Instead of bringing Hector the bulldog along on the trip, Granny appears to have also rented the services of a native bodyguard for Tweety – a bulldog-jawed shark, who lives in a half-submerged doghouse set nearby in the lagoon, and responds to commands like a trained pip, receiving a bone from Granny as his reward.
On an adjoining shore across the lagoon, enters Sylvester, to essentially dominate the remainder of the episode. Tweety’s only activity until the second to last shot of the film is to “Taut he taw a putty tat”, and to tell Sharkey to “sic ‘em.” Thus sets up a scenario similar to “Rabbitson Crusoe”, though not lifting any of its gags. Sylvester’s first approach is in an inflated rubber raft. Sharkey takes a bite, deflating Sylvester’s craft, but inflating Sharkey into a ball. Sylvester next rigs a breeches buoy to a palm tree on his shoreline, connecting the rescye line to the opposite shore by means or a well-placed shot with a bow and arrow with the rope tied to the arrow’s shaft. Sylvester climbs into the device and rolls down the rope, contemplating what side dishes go best with squab. The angle of his descent suddenly increases, dipping Sylvester’s feet into the water, as we find that the other end of the rope has been rethreaded directly into the doorway of Sharkey’s doghouse. Sharkey takes a few chaws on Sylvester, severs the tightrope, and leaves Sylvester to race for his life back to his own shore, where he remains stranded for a time in the top of a cocoanut palm, treed while Sharkey snaps after the end of his tail from below. Sylvester’s third attempt is by way of a deep sea diver’s suit and air pump generator operating on shore. Underwater, Sylvester passes the doorway of Sharkey’s doghouse, where the shark appears to be fast asleep. Sylvester continues on, but the actually wide-awake shark produces a scissor, and cuts Sylvester’s air line. As the last air bubbles rise to the surface, the cat frantically races back to his home base, emerging with his suit bulging from the water trapped inside. The pants of the suit separate from the jacket, leaving Sylvester standing in the middle of a puddle encased by the pants. A dorsal fin rises within the puddle and circles round Sylvester, causing the cat to leap out of the trousers and flee for safety, as Sharkey appears inside the puddle, and walks off wearing the pants on his fins. Sylvester’s final approach doesn’t even involve Sharkey, but instead is a reworking of a gag used in at least one previous Tweety and in Freleng’s “Roman Legion-Hare” for Bugs Bunny, as Stlvester attempts to walk across the lagoon on stilts. Unlike the previous Tweety and Bugs payoffs, where each of them toss a saw and axe to whoever is menacing Sylvester below, here the job of cutting down the stilts to size is handled by a passing school of sawfish. As Sylvester returns gasping to terra firma, he hears a loud boat whistle. Granny and Tweety are departing the islands aboard the S.S. Aloha-Ha. Sylvester follows, paddling in a canoe. “That putty tat sure don’t give up easy”, observes Tweety. But rising from the water behind Sylvester’s canoe is the form of Sharkey, who addresses the audience with his only line of dialogue: “Yes, and I don’t give up easy, either.”
Surfin’ Fred (Hanna-Barbera, The Flintstones, 3/12/65) – It’s time for an early spring vacation, and Fred’s in charge of picking out a quiet destination. He selects a remote beachfront hotel he’s sure nobody has heard about, called Rock Island, where he says they can have the beach all to themselves. Barney isn’t so sure, as this is Spring Break, and several cars of teenagers pass their vehicle at high speed. Wilma too thinks there’s something familiar about Fred’s destination, but can’t place her finger on it. At the Rock Island hotel, battle stations are under preparation, with windows being boarded over, and everything loose being nailed down – as the hotel braces for its second year of bookings for the national surfing finals. To make things even more unavoidably irresistible to the teenagers, singer James Darrock (guest star James Darren) is scheduled to appear to present the trophy to the winning contestant. (It should be noted that, while the Flintstones was the first animated sitcom to feature guest star appearances, such appearances were not merely random choices, or sought out by numerous entertainers for prestige purposes like its modern-day counterpart, The Simpsons, but generally had the purpose of providing a plug for some up-and-comer who would benefit some division or other of Columbia Pictures. Ann Margaret (as Ann Margrock), for example, was considered a rising star for Columbia on the strength of her appearance in “Bye Bye Birdie”, though in fact she did not stay a Columbia property long and moved on to other studios and under a recording contract with another label. Elizabeth Montgomery, reprising her role as Samantha, was of course another Columbia star, providing an effective plug for the studio’s companion hit on the same network, “Bewitched”. James Darren was likewise a hot property for the studio’s “Colpix” record label, achieving record hits including theme from the film “Gidget”. “Goodbye, Cruel World”, and many others, and eventually also providing the new theme song, “My Gidget”, for the spinoff TV series from Columbia starring Sally Field. Thus, the “special” episodes of the Flintstones had a commercial purpose beyond merely being ratings-getters for one week, and their sometimes tendencies to considerably depart from the normal general themes of the show cannot be overlooked, and may be viewed to some degree as a partial commercial sellout, influenced more by studio executives than by the creative desires of the writers. Kudos to The Simpsons for never allowing its guest star episodes to follow the same dollar-driven trends.)
At a personal appearance elsewhere (where Darren (Darrock) performs the original number “Wax Up Your Boards” in authentic mock Beach Boys style, Darrock is promised some time off – with the catch of the gig to present the trophy at the surfing finals. His manager places sunglasses and a lifeguard’s hat upon Darrock’s head, telling him that for two days, he will be in disguise, relaxing in the lifeguard’s chair, with no likelihood of having to perform a rescue, as everyone in the water will be champion surfers. Of course, he has not counted on the unexpected presence of Fred. At the resort, Fred’s dreams of solitude are quickly shattered as swarms of teenagers begin to arrive, and Wilma finally rccalls where she had heard of the location on last year’s news. But Fred is not about to be tagged with making a mistake, and refuses to let his spirits be dampened. Instead, he reverts to a sort of a seconf childhood, and determines to mingle with the younger set. He starts by trying to dive into a wave for some body surfing. His pot belly meets the vertical face of a wave head on, and Fred is driven back forcibly for a rolling landing on the shore. Some onlooking teens think that was a cool move, which Fred describes as “body surfing – Honolulu style”, and Fred agrees to teach them the maneuver, in exchange for learning some of the youths’ dance steps. Before long, Fred is swiveling his mass in rhythm with the teens’ surf beat, as the world’s oldest teenager, and accepted by the youths as a coach and guru. Fered musses his hair to kook like a surfer dude, and adopts the nickname “Troy” (reference to actor Troy Donahue). Fred continues, however, to get into various mishaps (including body surfing after eating, board surging balanced atop the edge of the board vertically, and tandem water skiing with Barney), which leave lifeguard Darrock with more work on his hands in rescues than he ever bargained for. Wilma, meanwhile, is fuming at the attention Fred is getting, and decides to engage in some self-instruction on board surfing herself to show Fred up.
The day of the finals arrives, and Barney and Betty discover the resemblance between the poster of Darrock in the lobby and their lifeguard, deducing the secret. They inform Wilma, who has just witnessed Fred being coaxed to the beach by two teenage girls on the ruse that they need an extra judge for the contest. Instead, the girls talk Fred onto a surfboard, and push him out to sea to perform his feats in the competition. With the surf up, Wilma senses disaster, and paddles out on her own board to rescue Fred. A mammoth wave bears down upon them. Fred’s board is swept away in a near wipe out, but he lands atop the shoulders of Wilma, who rides the curl in a high speed approach to the shore – straight at the pier. Wilma bravely maintains her balance with Fred on top, and slaloms between the puer pilings, up upon the shore, and gracefully up the walk of the hotel and through its revolving door, all to the applause of the crowd, and the unanimous decision by the judges that they have just witnessed a prize-winning performance of tandem surfing. That night, Darren performs one more number, “Surfin’ Craze”, written to sound as close as legally possible to a duplicate of the Beach Bots’ “Surfin’ U.SA.”, as the trophy is awarded to the Flintstones. Back at home, Fred can’t get the surf music out of his blood, as he, Barney, Pebbles, and Bamm Bamm form a garage quartet surf rock group, performing the song again in their own off-key style for the fade out. (Shades of “ Date With Jet Screamer”!)
(Two noticeable goofs in the episode: in the scene where Barney and Betty discover Darrock’s identity from the lobby poster, the theme from “Top Cat” is played in the underscore. In a perspective shot as Wilma and Fred approach the pier “pipeline”, animation cels are placed behind a background layer depicting the pier pilings, so that when Fred’s mouth comes nearly up to the camera lans, no one remembers to reposition the background cel to let Fred pass ahead of the pier pilings, leaving them visible in the shot as if about to be swallowed by Fred’s oversized mouth.)
Makin’ With the Magilla (Hanna-Barbera, Magilla Gorilla, 10/23/65) – This time. Hanna Barbera has a definite sales agenda in mind – even more so than with “Surfin’ Fred”, which at least did not release either song in commercial release until a soundtrack CD about twenty years later. A division of Columbia studios’ holdings was Dimension Records, who at the time had under contract a “dance craze” artist known as Little Eva, who had scored one major hit in a previous release entitled “The Loco-Motion”. Someone in the executive ranks came up with the exciting concept that she should try to introduce another hit dance, using, of all things as inspiration – Magilla Gorilla? Convinced of the success of their new character, Hanna-Barbera were commissioned to produce a late season entry for the cartoon series, using the title of Eva’s newly-written song, “Makin’ With the Magilla”, designed to spotlight the number. Concurrently, the recording (with arrangement by Carole King) was released on Dimension, and internationally on Colpix, including a picture-sleeve 45 rpm featuring illustration of a bikini-clad dancer performing the step with someone in a full-size Magilla suit, and a reverse side illustrating dance charts for the alleged new step created by the Fred Astaire Dance Studio. For all this promotional effort, the record went nowhere. In fact, there is reason to wonder if Eva even got a screen credit for the song’s inclusion within the cartoon. Her name does not appear on the surviving main title card, and end credits for the show (generally presented identically each week by means of a panning shot down a standard credits roll purportedly “pulled up” by Magilla suspended from a balloon) is not known to exist for the week’s presentation to determine if any special alterations were made. I for one recall the original airing, and had no idea who the singer was or why the song was there, and so had no idea of the record’s existence until research for this article. Fellow record collector and animation buff James Parten had also never encountered this obscurity. Copies in VG condition with sleeve currently run for as high as $60.00 online. (In my personal opinion, don’t waste your money. The song, not penned from the dependable creative mind of Hoyt Curtin, is in my opinion entirely unmemorable.)
The cartoon starts out well enough, but disintegrates when the song is reached. Magilla watches one of his favorite TV shows in the pet shop window – “Surfer Safari” – and tries to imitate the moves by balancing on his toes atop his rocking chair. He topples onto Mr. Peebles, spilling his owners’ supply of pet food. Peebles ties Magilla into his chair, telling him that the only “shooting the tube” he wants around here is for Magilla to stay glued to the TV tube. But outside, a hot rod and a classic “Woody” station wagon pass, loaded with teenagers and surfboards. Merely expanding his chest to free himself of the ropes, Magilla runs outside for a better look. As the vehicles pass, a surfboard drops out of the station wagon, and bounces into Magilla’s hands. “Hey, you dropped your board”, shouts Magilla, and takes off in pursuit of the teenagers. In the process, he trods over the top of a man in a convertible driving the other way, who comments, “When the surf’s up, these guys really go ape.”
At “Gremmie Gulch” (“Gremmie” being surfer sland for a younf and inexperienced surfer), Magilla catches up to the surfers, but slides right by them down a slope, and into the water. Struck in the face by a first wave, Magilla comments, “Someone left the water running.” As teens on the shore look on, a second wave approaches. “The dam musta broke”, Magilla shouts. Finding himself riding atop the wave’s crest, Magilla hopes it’s only soft water. The wave is so tall, it launches Magilla toward the pier at a height above its floorboards, where Magilla sends a trio of fishermen diving into the bay, then makes a u-turn by hooking onto a post to head back in the opposite direction. The teens remark it’s the first time they ever saw anyone shoot the top of the pier. Magilla continues to fly through the air at high altitude, puncturing the sail of a passing sailboat. “I’m getting bored with this board”, thinks Magilla. Ahead looms another tall wave, which flips Magilla for another u-turn in its curl, leaving him surfing upside down. “Gorilla overboard – I mean, Gorilla under-board!”, Magilla wails. He climbs back atop his board (a continuity error shows the keel panel still on top in one shot, then gone in the next scene as if the board turned over under its own power). “Wouldn’t take much of this to make a land-lubber out of a guy”, Magilla again observes. Hitting the water, he leaps over the hull of a rowboat directly in his path, while the board goes right through it, torpedoing the small craft to sink into the deep. Magilla next faces the pier, just as did Wilma before. “Yeoww! An obstacle course!” Magilla shoots the pier in what has to be a current for the record books – backwards and forwards between lines of pilings in reversing directions. Next, he comes up on top of a whale, who propels him into the air with a spout from its blowhole.
Magilla lands atop the crest of another incoming wave, and is abruptly left aground atop the pinnacle of a high reef. “Looks like low tide”, comments the ape, who wonders why a wave is never around when you need one. In answer, an even taller wave approaches. But instead of floating Magilla off the reef, the force of the blow pulls the entire reef right out from under Magilla. The board falls first, then Magilla, right through it. “Trouble with this board is it’s too tight around the waist”, Magilla says from within the hole, his lower half submerged in water. As one last wave approaches, Magilla decides to head where “the terra is more firma”, and outraces the wave in paddling to shore. “Hail the new king”, shouts one of the teenagers, and they take up Magilla’s board upon their shoulders, with Magilla still waist-deep in it, then release him to sit upon a throne constructed of three crossed surfboards, while the teens dance in his honor. A good cartoon while it lasted, but now comes the sales pitch, as the last two and one-half minutes of the film are lost to Eva’s song. The singer is not caricatured to raise the performance to a cameo, and Magilla only performs a scant few moves of his own, in no manner resembling the illustrations of the record’s picture sleeve. It appears unlikely the artists were even provided with the Fred Astaire Dance Studio instructions on how to present the dance, as the animated movements are just simple and tedious repeating cycles, seemingly made up as they went. Unlike more inspired outings such as the Jetsons’ “Epp Opp Ork”, the Flintstones’ “The Twitch”, or even the “Surfin’ Craze” discussed above, it becomes quickly evident that the animators simply don’t know what to do with this song, and the number’s entire duration plays like a mere filler of allotted time – more boring than the entirely recycled animation used over and over again by Filmation on musical numbers of “The Archies” series of the 60’s. Thee is no ending-gag payoff, with Magilla merely observing “That’s me” for the fade out. What a letdown.
Fred’s Island (Hanna-Barbera, The Flintstones, 3/4/66) – Undoubtedly inspired by the hit status of the series “Gilligan’s Island” on another network, this episode places Fred on unusual assignment from Mr. Slate – mind Slate’s million dollar yacht while it is not in use during Slate’s birthday – with the proviso that the ship is to remain at the dock. Fred, Wilma, and the Rubbles jump at the chance to play sailor for the day, lounging on the deck chairs and dining at the captain’s table. However, following in the footsteps of the rival sitcom’s “three hour tour”, the mooring rope holding the yacht snaps while the families are taking an afternoon siesta. The group awakens to find that the yacht has drifted upon a strange and unfamiliar shore. Fred and Barney find out the hard way – leaping off the bow for a refreshing swim, and instead landing in a faceful of sand bar. Believing he has discovered an uncharted island, Fred forms a partnership with Barney to develop it, christening it Flintstone Island (with the capital city of Rubble). Exploring the island for subdivision possibilities, they come across a set of strange footprints, then hear the savage yells of an approaching native carrying a spear and wearing a witch doctor mask. Fred is unimpressed by the native’s small stature, and will not be intimidated from his real estate, so merely says “Boo” into the native’s face – which sends the native cowering and begging for mercy. Fred shows he means no harm, and extends a hand in friendship. “Okay”, replies the native, removing his mask in a friendly smile. Figuring that the native probably knows the whole layout of the island, Fred and Barney decide to make him a partner. Barney wants to name him Friday, but Fred thinks Saturday is more appropriate, being a day off – since this native is really off. Saturday seems to catch on fast to civilized tongue, responding, “Saturday. That time and a half.”
Fred and Barney continue their exploration, but encounter some new features of the island they hadn’t counted on. In the distance, a volcanic peak begins to erupt. At their side, a snarling gorilla pops out from the underbrush. As they hide up a tree, several varieties of dinosaur, including one that breathes fire, menace them. Our hereoes definitely decide that their subdivision will note this as the bad part of town. But the terror is more imagined than real, as the boys hear a voice coming from the loudspeaker of a passing vehicle. Approaching through the jungle growth drives a tram on tracks, carrying a guide and a cargo of tourists, and signs reading .”Bedrockland Jungle Ride”. Barney recalls the announced opening of a new amusement park under the same name, and Fred realizes this is no island at all, but that the yacht has merely drifted across Bedrock Bay. The volcano and wild beasts are mechanical, run by control buttons within the tram, and Saturday is an employee hired to stage mock attack upon the tourists. And who of all people should be passengers aboard the tram, but Mr. Slate and his wife. Fred tells Barney to grab some grass and mud, and the two quickly devise makeshift native disguises to join Saturday in the mock attack, biting the dust with Saturday on cue (although Barney tries to ham up his dying scene). Slate gets out of the tram to take a picture of the natives, bur a sneeze by Fred “flips his wig”, unmasking him to Slate, who also spies his yacht upon the beach. Slate threatens Flintstone with chages of deriliction of duty, piracy, etc. – on top of the announcement that Fred is fired, and Barney provides an encouraging word, that a good attorney might get him off with a life sentence. Suddenly, the volcano erupts again. Slate can’t hear himself think, and tells the tour guide to shut that thing off, as they’ve already seen it. The guide, however, states that he never pushed the button – the eruption is for real. A flow of lava covers the tram tracks back to the exit, leaving the passengers and out heroes stranded to face the erupting peril. Fred remembers the ship, and herds Slate, the passengers and the guide toward the boat for escape. Saturday also follows the suggestion, but has a powerboat of his own to head back to his wife and kids. Fred bids him goodbye, and says to look him up if Saturday’s ever in town. Barney is the last to follow, seeing the lava slowly devouring the development, and asks if Fred wants to buy out his interest in the partnership.
On board the yacht, Fred receives praises as a hero from the tourists, and even from Slate, who agrees to drop the charges, and hire Flintstone back. Fred graciously acepts, and adds. “If there’s anything else I can ever do…” Never missing an opportunity, Slate soon has grumbling Fred repainting the hull of his yacht. Finally home, Fred later receives an unexpected knock on the door. It is Saturday, who has taken Fred up on his inviation to “look him up”, bringing along the “wives” and kids. In a rare instance of permitted cartoon polygamy, through Fred’s front door run at least five wives, each with their own brood of multiple children. Wilma breaks out the extra linen, while Fred remains the gracious host admitting them in, but whispers under his breath, “Ooh. boy.”
Nudnik on the Beach (Paramount/Rembrandt Films, Nudnik, 9/66 – Gene Deitch, dir.) – Despite skipping over his Tom and Jerry contribution, we won’t leave Mr. Deitch out of the running for this year’s episodes, and give him the finale berth. Nudnik, the bandana-wearing, balloon panted, perennial born loser who never seems to know from day to day where he’ll live or how he’ll eke out a living, today finds himself trying to find a cozy place to sleep in the luggage rack of a local bus, headed for the beach with a crowd of tourists and sun worshipers. As he awakens and extends one leg down from the rack, it is abruptly grabbed by a standing passenger who thinks it’s a grip handle such as those used in a crowded subway to maintain balance. As the bus brakes for a stop, the ,an below loses his grip on Nudnik’s limb, as momentum thrusts Nudnik into the door well and out of the bus, where Nudnik’s pants get caught around a sign reading that the beach is still 4 miles away. Nudnik decides the destination is as good as any, and makes the rest of the trip in the hot sun on foot. Arriving at the seashore, Nudnik finds a beach reminiscent of the classic Paramount cartoons of the past – covered in wall-to-wall people and beach umbrellas. Nudnik finds what looks like a vacant mound of sand to rest upon, but as two people blocking out foreground view move away, we revisit the “Porky’s Naughty Nephew” scenario, as Nudnik notices feet protruding from the base of the mound which, while the same color as Nudnik’s, appear twice the size to be his. Even Nudnik is not sure, and tickles one of the feet to see if it’s his own. It is not, as a much larger man emerges from under the sand, upset at being awakened. His rising buries Nudnik in half the sand pile, and Nudnik emerges to empty sizable helpings of sand out of his bandana and both pantlegs, which form into the shape of a sand castle. He moves on, finally finding another open spot. Peeling off portions of his outfit, he conveniently has on a bathing suit underneath, and also finds hidden inside his balloon pants a tattered beach blanket. He gives the blanket a flip to unroll it out, but its top end snags on the point of a beach umbrella. Nusnik pulls and struggles to get it free, and with a mighty tug topples the umbrella, which has a domino effect on five other umbrellas surrounding it. One of the other beachgoers yanks at the handle of an umbrella to set it back upright, just as Nudnik is crawling out from the pile of umbrellas over its canopy. The other tourist’s pull launches Nudnik into the air, and he lands further down the beach, headfirst into an inflated rubber horse, nearly disappearing into the rubber, with some of the air leaking into his balloon pants, so that he literally appears to be part of the inflatable. A woman comes along and tosses the horse into the water, then mounts atop its back. An underwater cross-view reveals why the horse appears to be floating back to shore – showing us Nudnik’s feet struggling to gain footing on the ocean bottom below. He encounters the points of a half-buried underwater trident (who left this lying around, King Neptune?), and the horse punctures, blasting Nudnik back to the beach.
He lands nearby a hot dog vendor, and becomes hungry. Reaching inside his bandana, he locates what is probably his only quarter, tied up inside an old sock. Of course, any sock of Nudnik’s will have a hole in it, and the quarter rolls onto the sand. As Nudnik reaches down for the coin, a passing man strides by, stomping on Nudnik’s hand and the quarter below. When Nudnik lifts his sore hand, all he finds below it is a hole in the sand. Nudnik starts digging to find the lost coin, and unearths an unhealthy pile of old bottles, shoes, and tin cans, while the impatient hot dog vendor looks on. Finally, Nudnik finds a small clamshell, which has snapped onto his already sore finger. But as he tries to shake the shell off, he hears a rattling sound inside, and smiles, knowing the end of his quest is in sight. He pries the shell off his finger, opening it to reveal inside – the quarter! Nudnik receives his hot dog, and settles down for what will probably be the first square meal he’s had in some time. But the wiener squirts out from the bun on his first attempt at a bite, landing on the chest of a sleeping man nearby. Not wanting another confrontation from waking someone up, Nudnik cautiously sidles up to the man, and in a manner as if not to be noticed, reaches out without looking to gently retieve the wiener. At that precise instant, the sleeping man raises one hand halfway, in which he is holding a lit cigar. Nudnik of course grabs the wrong article, places it in the bun, and chomps down – as the sounds of fire engine sirens and the pained looks of shock in Nudnik’s eyes reveal he has bitten into the lit end. Nudnik runs frantically to extinguish the burning sensations of his tongue, to the nearest public water fountain. He is so short, however, that he cannot place his foot on the fountain’s control pedal and extend his head over the top of the fountain to receive the drink. He tries to divert the flow of the fountain’s water with his finger over the hole, but merely arcs the water to the opposite side of the fountain. Then his finger gets stuck in the fountain’s hole entirely, while the foot pedal breaks off and remains in open position. The water begins to back up, first jetting from the metal tube of a fence railing nearby, filling Nudnik’s pants when he attempts to plug the leak, and finally shooting up from the floorboards of the pier, blasting him again into the air. Nudnik rides the stream of water down the steps of the pier to the shoreline below, then through some wooden fencing along the shore, acquiring a board of the picket fence in the process. He is swept out to sea, but comes repeatedly crashing back upon each successive wave – as a panel of judges looks on, from the judge’s stand of a surfing contest. Nudnik is driven by a final wave into the sand and up through the shore, amd pops his head out just below the loving cup for the winner of the contest, which winds up on his head. His competition concede defeat and depart, as Nudnik stands proudly, wearing his prize like a hat. However, the other surfers’ departure was not the result of mere concession – as a freak rainstorm deluges the coastline, dispersing the entire crowd in mere seconds. Nudnik is left alone on the shore, with the torrential rain poring down around him, and the water filling and overflowing his loving cup, so that it spills out in a waterfall effect around Nudnik’s head, keaving him looking like he is the main structure of a statuesque park fountain, for the usual bittersweet fade out.
It’s been radical, dude. But a new semester starts next week. Please be in attendance.