Sunday, August 15, 2010

Quick Draw McGraw — The Lyin’ Lion

Produced and Directed by Bill Hanna and Joe Barbera.
Animation – George Nicholas; Layout – Walt Clinton; Backgrounds – Art Lozzi??; Story – Mike Maltese; Story Sketches – Dan Gordon; Titles – Art Goble; Production Supervision – Howard Hanson. (no credits).
Voice Cast: Quick Draw, Baba Looey, Snagglepuss, Wooly Boy – Daws Butler.
First aired: week of Feb. 29, 1960 (rerun, week of Aug. 29).
Plot: Snagglepuss tries to con Quick Draw so he can steal Wooly Boy the sheep.

It’s tough to decide what’s the best part of this cartoon because there are so many great things going on here. First, we have the smart-ass orange Snagglepuss as the bad guy. Then we have a raft—nay, even two rafts—of puns, clever dialogue and a great ending by Mike Maltese. And we have some stand-out expressions on Snag by George Nicholas. They’re different than what you normally see out of Nick because the layouts are done on this cartoon by Walt Clinton. The characters are made of up different shapes or angles than when Bick Bickenbach did the layouts. And there are no clouds in the sky; Clinton’s the only layout guy I can think of who would avoid clouds on occasion.

Because Snag and Quick Draw have enlongated snouts, Nicholas can’t give them the same kind of big, open-mouth expressions like he originally gave Yogi. Instead, he has them talking out of the side of their faces in ‘U’ and oval shapes. We see that at the start when the scene opens outside Snagglepuss’ cave. Snag pops his head out to spy the morning paper in his mail box. Nicholas follows the voice track as Daws Butler lets out a Bert Lahr-like vibrato on the word ‘salubrious’. He moves Snag’s head up and down to the vowel changes in the letter ‘u’.


Here’s an odd bit of animation. Snag’s talking with the Nicholas-style floppy tongue movements but it was decided to add a slurpy tongue before he says “Here’s some tasty news.” It means there are two sets of tongues on the lion, one inside his mouth and the other around his upper lip, though it happens so fast you won’t see it on the screen.

We see the newspaper story about a huge sheep appearing at the County Fair. “Wooly Boy is a cinch for a large than average roast pan, too,” exclaims the lion. “Snagglepuss, it looks like your sheep has come in at last.” So we know what he has in mind. Off he goes to the Fair in one of Nicholas’ leaping walk cycles. It’s four drawings on twos, but Nicholas gets the leap effect by having some of the Snagglepuss cells higher on the background. The blue glow above the backdrop is a nice effect. Did Art Lozzi do the backgrounds in this one?


Snag (singing): I’m going to the fair. ’Cause Wooly Boy is there. He’ll soon be in my roasting pan. Without his woolly hair.




Meanwhile, at the Fair, Quick Draw and Baba are guarding the sheep. A poster explains why. I love the way the sheep on the poster is looking up at Snagglepuss.


We get a couple of Nicholas standards here when Snag arrives. Below left is the floppy tongue as Quick Draw says “Hold on thar!” Below right is the beady eye look registering shock as Quick Draw promises “I’ll have you canned like a kipper.” Snag’s response “Am I my brother’s kipper?”




Snag: I’m not Snagglepuss. I’m his honest brother, Snaggletooth.
Quick Draw: Garsh, I’m sorry. But there is a strong fam-bly resemblance.
Snag: True. But I have kinder eyes.

And his eyes instantly grow lashes and bats them for the audience, three drawings in ones. This has been slowed down.


Lo! Maltese borrows from the wonderful 1949 cartoon Rabbit Hood (which he wrote) in which Bugs would point and shout to the Sheriff: “Lo! The King Approach-eth!” When the Sheriff asked where, Bugs answered “There! O’er yon flowered bank!” or “O’er yon chevy chase!” This cartoon, however, is set in the old west, so when Snag points and claims Snagglepuss has arrived and says “Even now he approach-eth” and Quick Draw asks “Where?” he replies “By yon yucca tree.”

Now’s a bit of fun, where Snagglepuss rushes back and forth behind a tent to play the roles of “the scapegrace brother” and Snaggletooth. We even get a Lahr-like “nyah, yah, yah” (below right).



After running around, Quick Draw’s attention is arrested by the sound of Wooly Boy bleating and running away, with suspicious orange legs underneath. Quick Draw finally figures there’s something suspicious and pulls Snagglepuss from out of the mass of wool. Snagglepuss is now pretending to be himself. “Here,” he says, “Take your sheep. And when I catch that snitcher of an honest brother, Snaggletooth, he’ll rue the day. And the night, even.”

We get an “Exit, stage right.” Look at the angles Nicholas draw on Snagglepuss.



Now, Snag ducks back and forth and side-to-side on the tent housing Wooly Boy, staging a fight between Snagglepuss and the non-existent Snaggletooth. For whatever reason, the background colour changes to grey for this scene.

I love this line:


Baba: Quicks Draw, don’t you thin...
Quick Draw: Keep out of it, Baba. It’s a fam-bly affair.



Normally, the line means Snag could wear himself out while Quick Draw does nothing, but our hero doesn’t take his own advice. “Hold on, thar! Have mercy on an honest wretch,” he says. Snagglepuss agrees to stop chasing “Snaggletooth,” provided he gets Wooly Boy in return. But Quick Draw has a plan. He dresses up in a sheep costume and pretends to be Wooly Boy. I love Nicholas’ expressions on Snag.



But then Snagglepuss realises he’s been had.



Snag carries Quick Draw to a cliff. And we get a groaner.


Snag: Wooly Boy, no more sheep stealin’ for me.
Quick Draw: Well, woolly for you, Snagglepuss.
Snag: In fact, I’m dropping it right now.

And he drops Quick Draw over a cliff. Then he rushes to the tent and grabs the real sheep. Another great expression, this time on the hapless sheep. And it appears someone has a familiarity with someone else from the old west: Yosemite Sam.

Quick Draw: Stop, you varmint!
Snag: I’m not a varmint. So why do I stop?
Baba: There he goes, Quicks Draw. Into that cave.
Snag: A cave indeed. For a knave in need.

Now comes a great bit as Snagglepuss puts Wooly Boy in the roasting pan and then acts like a barber (even putting a bib around the sheep like a customer) to “trim you of your woolly locks.” Snag engages in barber-type banter.

Snag: Would you like a little off the top, sir? It’s a little long in the sides. How are the wife and kids? How are the Dodgers doin’?

Then we get the Nicholas stunned look on Snag, who realises Wooly Boy is “a mutton nuttin’”—all wool with no meat to eat. He returns the scrawny sheep to Quick Draw outside the cave.



Ah, no matter. Snagglepuss gets out a spinning wheel, he decides to make weave himself a cosy “haversacker.” Then we get a line where there must be a reference that’s lost on me. Snag looks the camera in three-quarters view and says “That’s why I spin. And spin. And spin.” I haven’t a clue where that comes from.

It’s a shame the “real” Snagglepuss wasn’t as expressive visually when he got his own series on The Yogi Bear Show. Of the first six cartoons, three were animated by Lew Marshall, the others were by Brad Case, Art Davis and Don Patterson. Certainly none of those three are bad animators; Davis and Patterson were good directors, too. They helped make the character memorable (though one could argue Butler and Maltese were mostly responsible). But there seems to be something a little extra in these orange Snagglepuss outings that presaged his own show.

This is one of those rare cartoons where all the voices are done by Daws.

As you might expect, the music is by Jack Shaindlin and Phil Green, with the main cue from Green’s ‘Big City Suite No. 2’ getting prominent play. Because this isn’t a western cartoon, we don’t get a lot of western style or tension music. But we do get several of Shaindlin’s comedy and circus-band cues. Sorry I don’t have the names for them.


0:00 - Quick Draw sub main title theme (Curtin).
0:16 - GR-99 THE DIDDLECOMB HUNT (Green) – Snagglepuss reads the paper.
0:56 - CRAZY GOOF (Shaindlin) – Snag walks, shot of County Fair.
1:15 - GR-472 HICKSVILLE (Green) – Quick Draw and Baba guard Wooly Boy, Snagglepuss says he’s Snaggletooth; darts behind tent.
2:27 - GR-248 STREETS OF THE CITY (Green) – Snagglepuss waves to Quick Draw, hides in sheep, “Exit, stage right.”
3:32 - GR-248 STREETS OF THE CITY (Green) – Fake Snagglepuss vs Snaggletooth fight, Quick Draw agrees to hand over Wooly Boy.
4:35 - jaunty bassoon and skippy strings (Shaindlin) – Quick Draw disguised as sheep, Snag drops Quick Draw over cliff.
5:24 - circus running music (Shaindlin) – Snag grabs Wooly Boy, runs into cave.
5:48 - tick-tock/flute music (Shaindlin) – Quick Draw at cave door, Snag sheers Wooly Boy.
6:28 - GR-75 POPCORN SHORT BRIDGE No 1 (Green) – Snag hands Wooly Boy to Quick Draw.
6:40 - circus music with trombone line (Shaindlin) – Snag spins wool.
7:01 - Quick Draw sub end-title theme (Curtin).

8 comments:

  1. As a potential spin-off for a Snagglepuss series, this is a great cartoon. He completely steals it from nominal stars Quick Draw and Baba, leaving them with very little to say or do. Indeed, the only physical punishment Quick Draw receives is to be dropped off a cliff. There's virtually none of his endearing bumbling or malapropisms, or the usual rebuffing of Baba's advice.

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  2. I haven't seen this cartoon before, until I looked it up on YouTube. Quite a wonderful cartoon indeed, topped with some hilarious George Nicholas animation and some funny writing from Mike Maltese. I do agree it was a shame how the real Snagglepuss never acted this funny on any of his own cartoons for the Yogi Bear Show.

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  3. Yowp:I also love the expression work on ol' Snag...he is one of my faves of my youth...and with that..."Exit, stage left"
    RadioWizard (Jack)

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  4. At about the 1:25 mark, when Snagglepuss says,"what a vicious looking beast he is", looks like Ken Muse. And two seconds of Ken Muse animation is just about the right amount.

    Snagglepuss was never one of my favorites, but I think he's much funnier in the pre-'Yogi Bear Show' cartoons, before he became a protagonist.

    Don Patterson is my favorite animator, but if it's visual expression you're looking for, there's none funnier than George Nicholas.

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  5. That was mine and my sister's favorite HB cartoon and our introduction to Snagglepuss. One of the times my sister and I actually came together on something. We laughed so much. Great memories with this cartoon. Thanks...Love your comments, very enlightening.

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  6. I don't know where I got the credits from, Don, but I have Art Lozzi down for backgrounds.

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  7. That's sort of the problem, Dave. That's what's on the not-always-accurate BCDB. I have no idea where they got their information .. from credits or someone guessing. And who knows how wild the guess is? As it is, I'm guessing about Walt Clinton.
    I have four different versions of the cartoon; one has a title card only and the others have edited out the card with the credits.

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  8. The Disney disciple George Nicholas was a master in making facial expressions on his animations.

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