Produced and Directed by Bill Hanna and Joe Barbera.
Animation – Ken Muse, Layout – Paul Sommer?, Backgrounds - Dick Thomas?, Story – Mike Maltese, Story Direction – Alex Lovy, Titles – Art Goble, Production Supervision – Howard Hanson (no credits)
Voice Cast: Snooper, Blabber, Sledge Hammer, X-9, Peter Pistol, Flying Fish – Daws Butler; Narrator, Perry Pliers, X-12, – Don Messick
Music: Phil Green, Roger Roger, Jack Shaindlin, Eddie Lund, Bill Loose, unknown.
First Aired: week of March 14, 1960 (repeat, week of Sept. 12, 1960)
Episode: Quick Draw McGraw Show M-25, Production J-74.
Plot: In Hawaii, Snooper and Blabber try to get the Ping Pong Pearl back from a flying fish.
Yowp note: Versions of this cartoon are circulating with incorrect credits from a 1962 cartoon.
Smart-alec cartoon fish have been around since the Van Beuren short ‘Jolly Fish’ (1932). But the one in this cartoon doesn’t show up for a couple of minutes from the start. This gives Mike Maltese the chance to do punny gags on the detective genre. Well, after Bill Hanna saved a bunch of money.
Maybe it’s a coincidence, or my imagination, but it seems there are whole stretches of cartoons that Ken Muse animated at Hanna-Barbera with no animation. This one starts with two background pans, then a static shot of a third background. There’s no animation for the first 21 seconds. Then, when the camera pans over to two characters, all we get is mouth animation and an eye-blink when each is introduced. Of course, Muse is just following instructions handed to him, either by Hanna or Alex Lovy, a cost-conscious guy who had just come from the cost-conscious Walter Lantz studio.
Well, on to the detective name parodies. We’re introduced in the hotel lobby to Perry Pliers and Sledge Hammer (some 26 years before the Sledge Hammer! TV show) .
Perry: How’d you finally crack the jewel case?
Sledge: I didn’t. My wife used a hair pin.
Two undercover officers are next. One is under a rug. The other is in a plant pot. All we see is their hands they shake. Next is Peter Pistol. “Not anymore,” he evenly says. “I got a raise. I’m Ralph Rifle now.” He puts a rifle on his shoulder. Sky High, Out of Space Private Eye wear a space suit with a propeller on the helmet. H20, Underwater Cop is in a large fish tank and carrying a spear gun.
Now we’re slowly getting into the plot. We’re introduced to Forchoon Kooki, a Charlie Chan parody, complete with white suit and hat. The scene cuts to Snooper and Blabber in a rowboat, fishing “where the Omo Omo Nupa Nupa go swimmin’ by.” Maltese has me baffled. Sounds like part of a song lyric. Blab is equally confused about it (see note in the Comment section). It’s time for lunch. Now we meet our antagonist. Blab pulls out a sand-a-wich and a fish with wings flies out of the water, swallows the sandwich whole and dives back into the water. The fish is a cannibal because it’s a fish and poi burger. Then it eats a banana. “I heard they were doin’ great things in flyin’,” Snoop tells us, “But this is ridickaluss.”
Forchoon Kooki pulls up in a motorboat. He wants Snooper to deliver the Ping Pong Pearl to San Francisco. Kooki can’t do it because he “splained ankle. Slipped on wet Chinese noodle.” Kooki now departs. Aloha ‘Oe, honourable stereotype.
Snooper’s delivery is complicated by booby Blab, who is entrusted with putting the pearl in the food basket for safe keeping. Wrong move. Blab pulls it out again, thinking it’s a hard-boiled egg. So does the flying fish, who jumps out of the water, gulps it down and jumps back in.
So the gags centre on Snooper and Blabber trying to catch the fish.
● A pineapple ring on a fishing line is lowered into the water by Blab. The fish twirls the fruit like a buzzsaw and eats it. He then flies up and attaches the hook to Snooper.
● “If the mountain won’t come to Mahoney, Mahoney will have to go to the mountain.” Snoop is wearing a diving mask and jumps in the ocean. The fish opens the diving mask and it fills with water. Well, the fish did knock on the front of the mask and Snoop did tell him to come in.
● The fish swims out of the water and into the sky. Snooper follows him. “Stop in the name of the Private Eye Fish Fry Society!” You know what happens when cartoon characters suddenly realise they’re in mid-air. It’s an old gag.
● Blab leaps into the ocean wearing a shark fin, designed to scare the flying fish into the boat. The fish instead blows water into Snooper’s face. “The little squirt’s onto us,” says Snoop as he pulls the fin from the water. Surprise! (or maybe not). It’s attached to a real, toothy, angry shark that starts chasing the detective. The flying fish realises Snoop’s in danger, plucks him out of the water as the shark is about to bite down, and flies him to safety.
The cartoon ends with Snooper pasting stamps on the fish, who’s going to deliver the pearl by airmail. The fish lifts off with an “Ahoy aloha” from Snoop. The fin then returns, gliding to the shore. Snoop zooms up a palm tree and yells for help from the shark. No, it’s just Blab. “Gosh,” Blab surmises, while standing on a Hawaiian island, “Snoop really needs a vacation.”
The sound-cutter has dug up some interesting mood selections. Forchoon Kooki gets the theme ‘Chopsticks’ from the Valentino library. It’s not the version you played on a piano as a kid; it’s a short, oriental-sounding melody from Roger Roger, a Frenchman who composed for a number of production libraries while using a couple of different names. Some of his early works sound very symphonic but he was later a pioneer in electronic music. I suspect the opening ukulele theme is from Eddie Lund, who’s listed in the ASCAP database as having his music used by Hanna-Barbera. He specialised in music from the islands of the Pacific, especially Tahiti. A couple of other pieces seem to have only appeared in this cartoon. One is from Capitol Hi-Q X-4, a version of ‘Streets of Cairo’ that’s more Mid-Eastern than Hawaiian. And there’s a Chinese-evoking underscore when Forchoon Kooki meets up with Snooper which could be a Sam Fox library cue.
The cutter doesn’t let most of the music drag on for any length of time. Most of the cues are under 30 seconds.
0:00 - Snooper and Blabber Main Title theme (Curtin)
0:25 - Ukulele music (Lund) – Pan of Hawaiian background, hotel exterior.
0:42 - GR-348 EARLY MORNING (Green) – Perry Pliers and Sledge Hammer.
0:54 - C-135 SNAKE CHARMER-COMIC (Loose) – Undercover.
1:05 - GR-456 DR QUACK (Green) – Peter Pistol, Sky High, H20, “Excuse please.”
1:28 - CHOPSTICKS (Roger) – Forchoon Kooki scene.
1:50 - GR-93 DRESSED TO KILL (Green) – Snoop and Blab in boat, fish eats sandawich and banana.
2:33 - far east underscore (?) – Forchoon Kooki in motorboat.
3:22 - GR-453 THE ARTFUL DODGER (Green) – Snoop hands pearl to Blab, fish eats pearl, Snoop laments.
3:51 - GR-346 FIRST BUDS (Green) – Snoop worried he’ll be drummed out, fish looks up.
4:05 - L-1158 ANIMATION COMEDY (Moore) – Pineapple bait drops, fish spins pineapple.
4:11 - GR-77 CUSTARD PIE CAPERS (Green) – Fish eats pineapple, attaches hook, reels in Snoop.
4:48 - PG-168J FAST MOVEMENT (Green) – Snoop in diving mask.
4:57 - GR-457 DR QUACK SHORT BRIDGE No 1 (Green) – “A good private eye...”
5:03 - PG-181F MECHANICAL BRIDGE (Green) – Snoop underwater, fish opens mask, fills up.
5:18 - circus running music (Shaindlin) – Snoop chases fish into sky, falls into water.
5:40 - GR-87 SKELETON IN THE CUPBOARD (Green) – Blab with fin, shark, Snoop runs.
6:10 - SIX DAY BICYCLE RACE (Green) – Fish rescues Snoop from shark.
6:30 - GR-80 FRED KARNO’S ARMY (Green) – Snoop on phone, stamps on fish, Snoop zips up tree.
6:53 - GR-99 CUSTARD PIE CAPERS (Green) – Blab surfaces, talks to audience.
7:08 – Snooper and Blabber End Title theme (Curtin).