Saturday, December 18, 2010

Quick Draw McGraw — Choo-Choo Chumps

Produced and Directed by Bill Hanna and Joe Barbera.
Credits: Animation – Ken Muse; Layout – Dick Bickenbach; Backgrounds – Fernando Montealegre; Story – Mike Maltese; Story Sketches – Dan Gordon; Titles – Art Goble; Production Supervision – Howard Hanson.
Voice Cast: Little Robber, Dynamite Robber, Quick Draw, Baba Looey, Durn Meany, Horse – Daws Butler; Narrator, Slinkerton Man, Conductor, Gooden Meany – Doug Young.
Music: Jack Shaindlin, Phil Green, Bill Loose-John Seely.
Production No: M-008, episode J-9.
First Aired: week of Nov. 16, 1959 (repeated week of May 16, 1960).
Plot: Quick Draw tries to bring in train-robbing brothers Gooden and Durn Meany.

This may be the one Hanna-Barbera cartoon where you don’t see the dramatic climax. In an ingenious animation-saving move, a fight takes place in a railway tunnel for 13 seconds. The bulk of it consists solely of a drawing of the tunnel, revolving over and over, accompanied by sound effects and shouts. Then our heroes emerge from the other end victorious.

And that’s not even the longest bit of non-animation. Near the start of the cartoon, we get 14 seconds of nothing but a background drawing. The only action is a quick camera pan from one side to the other as we hear the solemn tones of narrator Doug Young.


One other background gets a fair bit of use. It’s of the prairie desert, and we see it in most of the exterior shots. It’s hard to judge from the available copies how correct the colour is, but you can see there’s no difference in the colour of the horizon and the ground. The earth is differentiated by the reddish and reddish-purple mountains, some cacti and brown spots and, of course, railroad tracks. The sky is indicated by some long clouds. It’s minimal but effective.


This is one of the earlier Quick Draws. Daws Butler’s voices were a little different in the beginning; Baba Looey’s pitch was lower and there are spots where Quick Draw sounds a bit duller and enunciates more than later.

Mike Maltese whips up some familiar-seeming gags and situations. The cartoon even opens like Hare Trigger (1945), the Bugs-Yosemite Sam classic he wrote for Friz Freleng as a steam train chugs along toward a pint-sized robber on the tracks. Unfortunately, Maltese doesn’t borrow the great gag of the train going over the crook. We rely on dialogue instead.


Little Robber: Stick ‘em up, you rich ol’ choo-choo train, you!
(Train crashes into robber and runs over him).
Little Robber: Oooooh! That’s not fair!

After a Wile E. Coyote-ish ‘dynamite-blows-up-late’ gag, we see Quick Draw sworn in as a Slinkerton special deputy; Pinkerton detectives entered western folklore in the 1880s guarding trains and tracking down outlaws like Jesse James. The gag’s an old one. Quick Draw is stabbed with the pin on the star-shaped badge. He doesn’t say “Oooo. That smarts!” yet. Maltese is still working on that catchphrase. We do get the other ones, though. When Baba tries to run away before he’s shoved in the mail car’s safe with the cattlemen’s money, Quick Draw yells “Hold on thar!” He adds “I’ll do the thin’in’ around here” when Baba shouts “I don’t thin’ I want anythin’ to do with this thin’!” And he vows “This money is goin’ through. And don’t you for-get it.”

The Meany brothers pop up out of a carpetbag and are confronted by ‘Doggone Meany,’ who in “real-ti-ty” is Quick Draw. “I’ll be dog-gonned if I’m-a goin’ to let you rob this here choo-choo train,” he promises. They shoot at his hat. Here’s the gag. Did Warners use a bullet-spelling gag?



So we get a lot of chasing on the train. Quick Draw runs after the Meanys, but simply goes in a straight line into the firebox (the Meanys duck behind the door). Maltese purloins his own smoke-from-stack-spells-‘Yipe’ gag right from Mississippi Hare (1949) then carries on with more from that cartoon as Quick Draw races to a water cooler and sits in a paper cup filled with water. Too bad he didn’t lift the “Need change for the water cooler” part from that cartoon.



Maltese isn’t through grabbing from his Warners’ days. After another “Hold on thar!” and “Don’t you for-get it!” he calls the Meanys “varmints” as he chases them through five passenger cars (or the same one five times) and out the back end of the train. Quick Draw doesn’t fall when he realises he’s in mid-air, though (after all, there must be a limit on many Warners’ gags can you borrow in a minute). He simply turns around, yells “Hold on thar!” at the train and runs after it while he’s still in the air.

“Stop the train!” yells Quick Draw. So Durn pulls the cord. Suddenly, the train has only one passenger car as we get a pan of the full train and the camera rests with Quick Draw sticking out through the engine. “Hmm. Mighty fine brakes!” he remarks.



After another cord-pull puts the shotgun-totin’ Quick Draw halfway through the back of a seat, Maltese drags out the old ‘character-on-top-of-train-unexpectly-whacked-by-tunnel-entrance’ gag. The dialogue before that is typical Maltese stuff:


Quick Draw: Drop that safe, you crooked, dishonest, thief and outlaw, you.
Gooden: Never, you honest, upright, courageous Slinkerton man, you. (Wham against tunnel entrance)



Remember Baba Looey? He’s in this cartoon. Specifically, he’s in the safe that goes flying skyward by the tunnel impact. He opens the door and wisely decides to stay inside. Now we get the old ‘I-got-it-I-didn’t-get-it’ gag as Quick Draw doesn’t catch the safe. Muse has a little low stomping action on Quick Draw as he yells “I got it” into the sky.



Gooden is magically back on the train. He catches the safe and jumps off the train.


Gooden: And now to make my getaway on my getaway hoss.

But he doesn’t count on the weight factor.

Gooden: Get up, my faithful getaway hoss.
Horse (facetiously): Aw, sure!

Quick Draw calls Gooden a “varmint” again as he grabs the safe and runs toward the railway tunnel. The Meanys follow on a handcar. Then we get the climax where all we can see is the outside of the tunnel rolling past for 13 seconds (you can count the same small, dark rock 13 times). The dialogue during all this reveals the Meanys open the safe and find Baba inside, shouting “Stick ‘em, crook-ses!” We can see the arrest when the camera finally reaches the end of the tunnel.



There’s a nice conclusion to the cartoon. “Just remember, crimes don’t pays,” says Baba. Quick Draw opens the door of the safe from the inside and adds his “And donnn’t you forget it” catchphrase, then turns to us and says “Good night, folks” before closing the door to end the cartoon.

The Meanys return in Twin Troubles the following season. They’re still drawn by Ken Muse but they’re bald in that one.

After listening several times, I’m giving a tentative ID to the music at the start of the cartoon. It’s hard to tell due to the narration and sound effects but parts of it match a cue I’ve found in the Hi-Q ‘D’ series. We get ‘Custard Pie Capers’ and the clompy ‘The Diddlecomb Hunt’ twice. And there’s another mystery Shaindlin piece that starts with a trombone gliss and ends with almost the same melody as ‘Sportscope,’ though the sound-cutter doesn’t get to the end of the cue.


0:00 - Quick Draw sub main title theme (Curtin).
0:14 - TC-14 CHASE-MEDIUM (Loose-Seely) – Train runs down little bandit, dynamite blows up.
0:54 - TC-205 LIGHT MOVEMENT (Loose-Seely) – Slinkerton scene, pan to mail car door.
1:35 - GR-90 THE CHEEKY CHAPPIE (Green) – “And prepare to spring the trap,” mail car scene.
2:06 - GR-347 GATHERING THE PRODUCE (Green) – Passengers, Meanys introduce themselves.
2:28 - GR-99 THE DIDDLECOMB HUNT (Green) – “And I’m Doggone Meany,” hat shot at twice.
2:57 - GR-77 CUSTARD PIE CAPERS (Green) – “It don’t, huh?”, Quick Draw in boiler, cools off butt in cup.
3:26 - trombone slide open sports march (Shaindlin) – Quick Draw chases Meanys through train; realises he’s in mid-air.
4:06 - circus running music (Shaindlin) – Quick Draw runs back toward train; crashes through steam engine.
4:31 - GR-99 THE DIDDLECOMB HUNT (Green) – Shotgun gag, “You grab the safe.”
5:03 - SIX DAY BIKE RACE (Shaindlin) – “And I’ll get the horses,” Quick Draw and Gooden on top of train, Baba opens safe, safe crashes through train car, Gooden lands on horse.
5:50 - PG-161G LIGHT COMEDY MOVEMENT (Green) – Horse dialogue scene, Quick Draw grabs safe.
5:58 - LAF-2-12 ON THE RUN (Shaindlin) – Quick Draw runs away with safe, tunnel, handcar emerges.
6:46 - GR-77 CUSTARD PIE CAPERS (Green) – “Do you two Meanys give up?”, Quick Draw says “good night, folks.”
7:03 - Quick Draw sub end title theme (Curtin).

18 comments:

  1. I really wish the Quick Draw cartoons could be released as a set.

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  2. This cartoon doesn't borrow from Maltese olf Warner ideas as it does from Warner Brothers overall. The bullet writing gag was used at Warners, in a Bob McKimson cartoon written by Warren Forster, "An Egg scramble". And the 'Mighty fine breaks' joke seems derrived from a gag in "All a birrrd", as well as the ‘character-on-top-of-train-unexpectly-whacked-by-tunnel-entrance’ scenes. Neither of these are written by Mike Maltese.

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  3. Next week is your 100th cartoon posted here, just to let you know.

    Thanks.

    Ryan

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  4. Phew! I'm glad I'm not the ONLY one to notice the train's sudden loss of cars after Quickdraw has crashed all the way through it.

    "Good night, folks" seemed to be Jack Benny's sign-off catchphrase through his many years on radio and TV. Chuck Jones' 1939 DAFFY DUCK AND THE DINOSAUR has the Benny-caricatured Casper Caveman end that cartoon the same way.

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  5. I think this cartoon was painted by Bob Gentle.

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  6. Bullet-spelling gag also used in "Easter Yeggs".

    Remember, Yowp, keep smiling!

    top cat james

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  7. Zartok, this is the kind of stuff that drives me nuts. When people help me out with animator IDs, they'll outline some traits they see. But no one ever does that with BG and layout people.

    What do you see that leaves you the impression it's Bob Gentle? Five different BG people worked on Quick Draw in the first season.

    Rod again mentioned he thought it was Bick doing layouts and, again, nothing specific to indicate why.

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  8. reg; bullet-spelling gags, there's also Jones' My Favourite Duck - "Start Praying Duck".

    Also I do like the design of the bad guy in the opening gag shots. Don't think he was reused in later HB toons, unfortunately.

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  9. Allow me to explain. There is a distinct lack of thick outlining in the backgrounds; It's all really soft. Monte and Art Lozzi weren't that abstract. It reminds me mostly of Bob's style.

    And I suspect Bick did lay this one out, those Meany brothers look exactally like the sort of cutsey shrimpy charaters he liked to design. I can't tell Bick as well as I know Clint, though, so don't take my word on that.

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  10. Thanks for the explanation, Zartok. That's very helpful. Dick Thomas and Joe Montell strike me as the most conservative of the group.

    I admit I'm baffled by layout artists (especially adding Bob Givens into the mix). I didn't think Bick went in much for stuff like the angular railcars above. And I was watching 'Kabong Kabong's Kabong' last night but I'd be guessing if I tried to figure out who came up with the incidental humans in that one.

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  11. My guess is it's Monte's BGs.

    Bob Gentle uses sponge in a much softer way.

    Monte tends to be more stark like this style.

    But it's a shame they lost all the credits. Otherwise we would know for sure.

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  12. The really bad thing about the credit situation is it's not like they lost them 35-40 years ago -- they were still on the cartoons in the late 1980s. It wasn't until after that the versions with the cropped production credits began to show up -- or roughly about the same time Hanna-Barbera began remastering a lot of their early 60s works to add the modern logos and remove the annoying things like the Screen Gems credits (Of course, growing up in New York and seeing these cartoons first-run, I never knew each cartoon had it's own individual credits, because they always began on WPIX with the title card, and simply used the gang credits in the closing titles).

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  13. All through the 70s, the three QUICK DRAW McGRAW SHOW segments retained the full opening credit sequences before virtually of the shorts. It seems that when Turner acquired the Quick Draw shorts in the early 90s in when trunacting began. Thankfully, the Doggie and Snooper & Blabber shorts for the most part retained their credits. They remained on The Family Channel for two years before moving to CN in '94.

    Very rarely a Yogi, Snagglepuss, Hokey or Yakky short would carry the full credit sequence throughout post-1966 syndication and into Turner ownership. (Can't speak for how they ran on USA's CARTOON EXPRESS because I didn't have cable during the 80s.) I never knew the Huck and Meece shorts had their own openings until they were remastered for the HUCKLEBERRY HOUND SHOW DVD.

    So that jazzy drum-and-trumpet riff I grew up hearing under the title cards for Huck shorts- and numerous Snagglepusses as well- was actually Huck's closing theme. I still can't get used to Huck's 'real' opening theme, although it's nice how a few bars from 'Clementine' was incorporated into it.

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  14. @J Lee: I believe the 1960-62 YOGI BEAR SHOW originally carried full opening sequences for all of the shorts for all three segments (which have been restored on the DVD set) AND gang credits under the 'helicopter' closing. They seem a bit more complete (journeyman animators LaVerne Harding, Brad Case, Robert Bentley and C.L. Hartman were listed) than the gang credits for the Huck and Quick Draw shows, which each listed only the six 'regular' animators.

    It WAS quite bizarre to see the 'toilet paper' Screen Gems closing logo after the post-1966 Huck closing. (The last, 1965-66 season of THE FLINSTONES carried it, too.) But it was downright annoying to see the 1980s 'Swirling Star' at the end of the syndicated 1988 Yogi package and syndicated/CN reruns of THE FLINTSTONES, TOP CAT, PENELOPE PITSTOP, CATTANOOGA CATS, etc.

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  15. Howard --

    When USA ran the Huck/Quick Draw/Yogi cartoons in the early-mid 1980s they ran with full openings and all credits intact. If only I had been recording them with my new VCR back then (of course, it was a Betamax, so I'd be on e-Bay right now scrambling to find a working used one to transfer the tapes to DVD...)

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  16. "Yowp-Yowp" Dodsworth,

    The Quick Draw McGraw episode Kabong Kabong's Kabong (that one in which we see the evil Horse-Faced Harry acting as the false El Kabong) brings the Walter Clinton's design on it. (Do you remember of the final scene of this episode? It's where Quick Draw [the real El Kabong] see a lot of people costumed of El Kabong, and then he reports: "It seems that there's a convention of El Kabongs here!" This scene is anthologic!)
    Have you seen the John Kricfalusi's blog (http://johnkstuff.blogspot.com)? He recently included a cool topic which involves the Walter Clinton's character designs on the Quick Draw McGraw episodes. The link to this topic is included quite above. Enjoy to see it.

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  17. Rod, thanks for the note. It's nice of John to use his eye to break down this stuff; I'm neither an animator nor an artist. I asked John awhile ago if he could give me a Walt Clinton 101.

    Clinton and Benedict both went in for more "designy" human characters than Bick, but it'd be nice to know what each did different than the other, especially in scenic layout and animal characters.

    It's a shame the cartoons got watered down within a few years. Last night, I was watching a Breezly and Sneezly cartoon which had nothing interesting or distinctive visually.

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  18. Well, the credits have surfaced. The eye of John K. is correct. It's Monty's painting. I sure wish I had an eye to detect this stuff.

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