Saturday, January 21, 2012

Snooper and Blabber — Desperate Diamond Dimwits

Produced and Directed by Bill Hanna and Joe Barbera.
Credits: Animation – Ken Muse; Layout – Walt Clinton; Backgrounds – Fernando Montealegre; Story – Mike Maltese; Story Sketches – Dan Gordon; Titles – Art Goble; Production Supervision – Howard Hanson.
Voice Cast: Snooper, Light Fingers François – Daws Butler; Narrator, Blabber, Dog Catcher – Elliot Field.
Music: Phil Green, Jack Shaindlin, Harry Bluestone/Emil Cadkin.
First aired: week of November 2, 1959 (rerun, week of May 2, 1959).
Episode: Quick Draw McGraw Show M-006, Production J-7.
Plot: Snooper and Blabber try to retrieve the King Size Diamond that Light Fingers François, disguised as a dog, has hidden in a fake bone.

Childhood was filled with immeasurable pastimes, and one of the more enjoyable ones was counting how many times a character ran past the same thing in the background of a Hanna-Barbera cartoon. Pixie and Dixie adventures seemed specially made for such a joyous activity, but there were other cartoons, too. Like this one.

The bad guy, Light Fingers François, steals the King Size Diamond and runs with it down the street. See that building with the gibberish sign? Light Fingers runs past it three times. Cut back to Snooper and Blabber. Cut back to François, who runs past it another 14 times. François loses the diamond (which is concealed in a dog bone) and it flies past the store another three times. And that’s just in this one scene.



The gibberish building appears in the first scene of this cartoon as a narrator does a Dragnet put-on, intoning “This is a true case. Only the characters are ridiculous.” It doesn’t return until the second half of the cartoon. The first half is set inside Sparkle Jewelry, where Snooper and Blabber are guarding the diamond. Blab engages in some overwrought hero worship, something he did in later cartoons. “Leave us face it,” Snoop says to us, “This kid’ll go far.”

The camera pans over to the window where the narrator introduces the bad guy, Light Fingers François. Daws Butler gives him the same Blacque Jacques Shellacque-ish voice that he used for Powerful Pierre in the Huck cartoons. François’ scam: disguise himself as a cute, lovable dog to ingratiate himself with the detectives and get close to the diamond. And it works. The fake pooch treats his bone like a rifle and walks, sentry-like, past the diamond, with some Phil Green marching music in the background. Snooper and Blabber go for a snack-type lunch.” François hides the diamond in the bone but Blab has been looking back at his new pet the whole time and sees it. The detectives start chasing him. “Here’s mud in your private eye,” cries François, lifting up his head temporarily to reveal his identity. Then Mike Maltese shamelessly puts this pun in the mouth of Snooper: “Yeah. There’s skul-doggery afoot.”



We get to see a lot of the gibberish store as the chase moves to the street. François loses the bone because he’s so busy looking back at Snooper and Blabber he runs into a light pole. The bone goes flying and smashes into a garbage can-diving bulldog in the butt. The dog thinks it has a delicious meal but François grabs the bone and darts off.



Now the bulldog joins the chase. Maltese decides to treat him as a real bulldog and not give him any lines, unlike the dog with the diamond ring on its tail chased by Snooper and Blabber later in the season in ‘Doggone Dog, Gone.’ Possession of the bone keeps changing throughout the cartoon. Snoop gets it back, but then the bulldog grabs it when Snoop hides in the garbage can seen earlier. You can tell Ken Muse worked on the cartoon; the bulldog has a resemblance to Spike in the last few Tom and Jerry shorts at MGM (as does François as a dog in a few poses). Snoop lets out with his catchphrase: “Stop in the name of the Ajax Private Eye School.”

I like the cause-and-effect gag next. François skids to a stop, pulls out a stick from somewhere and tells the bulldog to fetch it. Snooper skids up to François, who pulls out another stick. It’s only logical in Snoop’s mind that he fetches it. That’s what one does with sticks. François takes off. The dog, then Snoop, skid back into the scene with sticks in their mouths. “Leave us to admit it Bow wow. We goofed,” he says to the bulldog. Au revoir, goofers,” François says as a cap to the gag.

Blab now grabs the bone from François by hiding in a mailbox (“Fooey to you-ey, Louie,” says Blab to François, reminiscent of Bugs Bunny saying to Yosemite Sam “So long, screwy, see ya in St. Louie” in Hare Trigger, also written by Maltese). . François gets the bone back by taking a baseball bat to the mailbox. Blab vibrates out the door in back, which conveniently opens. But the vibrating bone causes François to vibrate (a gag I’m trying to place from somewhere). “Just call me ‘Shakey,’” says the smiling François to the audience.



“‘Snakey’ is better, you jewel thief,” says Snoop, whose arm reaches into the scene and grabs the bone. The chase is on again. François uses Snoop’s catchphrase: “Stop in zee name of zee International Jewel Thief Association!” Snoop skids to a stop when he sees the bulldog in front of him. He pulls out a stick and tells the bulldog to fetch it. The bulldog isn’t having any of it. “You fetch it,” he growls as he tosses Snooper out of the scene. François grabs the bone, runs and stops. He’s pleased with himself until a net suddenly slams onto of him. “How do you ya like dat? No dog license, no nuttin’,” says a dog catcher, who hauls off François. I’ll avoid comment on “some day, you’ll go to the dogs pun,” Maltese uses here.

The final scene has Snooper pleading with the bulldog to tell him where the bone is. The camera pans to reveal a hill with a bunch of holes in it and Blabber digging with a shovel trying to find it. “Pretty please with sugar on it? Strawberries in season?” grovels Snooper in a line you’d expect out of Maltese. The cartoon’s over and while François apparently never escapes from the dog pound, the gibberish building returns in a few other cartoons later in the season. It was rare for H-B to reuse backgrounds but they did it with this one (there are seven buildings of various sizes on the street).



This cartoon marks the fourth and final one for the different-sounding Blab. He was voiced by KFWB afternoon drive show host Elliot Field. Daws Butler took over the role in the next cartoon then continued to do it until the day he died.

The bulk of the music is by Phil Green and Jack Shaindlin in this cartoon, all to good effect. Green’s ‘And They All Lived Happily Ever After’ sounds like ‘The Toyland Parade’ for a good reason. Both are from his ‘Kiddie Comedy Suite’; the latter is the overture and the former is the ending. The sound cutter uses the second half of the cue.


0:00 - Snooper and Blabber Main Title theme (Curtin, Hanna, Barbera).
0:25 - PG-181F MECHANICAL BRIDGE (Green) – Pan of city street, shot of diamond.
0:40 - GR-90 THE CHEEKY CHAPPIE (Green) – Snooper and Blabber in front of diamond, pan to window.
1:17 - CRAZY GOOF (Shaindlin) – François at window, dresses as dog, gets hired, rushes out of scene.
2:18 - GR-259 AND THEY ALL LIVED HAPPILY EVER AFTER (Green) – François/Dog marches in front of display case, grabs diamond, “Light Fingers strikes again.”
2:45 - GR-453 THE ARTFUL DODGER (Green) – Snoop and Blab return, François/Dog runs away.
3:10 - LFU-117-2 MAD RUSH No 2 (Shaindlin) – Snoop and Blab run after François, François runs into light pole.
3:43 - PG-160G LIGHT MOVEMENT (Green) – Bone flies through air, hits bulldog, bulldog runs out of garbage can.
3:54 - SIX DAY BICYCLE RACE (Shaindlin) – Bulldog runs after François, Snoop grabs bone, jumps in garbage can.
4:12 - LFU-117-3 MAD RUSH No 3 (Shaindlin) – Bulldog reaches into garbage can, François grabs bone, skids to stop.
4:33 - GR-99 THE DIDDLECOMB HUNT (Green) – François plays fetch with bulldog and Snooper, Blabber grabs bone, François bashes mailbox, Blab shakes, François shakes, “Snakey is better, you jewel thief”
5:40 - GR-77 CUSTARD PIE CAPERS (Green) – Snoop runs with bone, bulldog growls.
5:53 - CB-85A STEALTHY MOUSE (Bluestone-Cadkin) – Snoop tries to play fetch with bulldog, François netted by dog catcher.
6:39 - ASININE (Shaindlin) – Snoop pleads with bulldog.
7:09 - Snooper and Blabber End Title theme (Curtin)

5 comments:

  1. "Yowp-Yowp" Dodsworth,

    Light Fingers François would return in another Snooper & Blabber episode: Observant Servants (from the 2nd season [1960-61] of The Quick Draw McGraw Show [Hanna-Barbera/Columbia Pictures, 1959-62]), where the villain appears disguised as a cake.
    This episode (quoted by me) brings the Paul Sommer's layout and the Ed Love's animation.
    One of the most remebered excerpts from this episode, is the dialogue between Snooper, Blabber and the Irish cop (typically New Yorker):

    Snooper: "Excuse me, mr. officer. Did you see a cake that talks with a French accent?"
    The Irish cop: "No, I can take you to know an apple pie that talks in English!"

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  2. It's a shame there isn't a better-quality version of the Quick Draw Shows available - that has to be one of the fanciest-looking title cards created at Hanna-Barbera at the time.

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  3. Snooper seems to have suffered the worse. I've found Italian Quick Draws (restored) and Brazilian Augies but the only Snoopers out there are really muddy versions taped off U.S. TV that look to have been uploaded to the internet about five years ago at a low bit-rate.

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  4. Are you sure that it was Jerry Hausner? It could have been Elliot Field.

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  5. Mr. Field has e-mailed me, refusing to confirm he worked for Hanna-Barbera. He does not wish to discuss his career with me.

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