Saturday, July 7, 2012

Snooper and Blabber — Monkey Wrenched

Produced and Directed by Joe Barbera and Bill Hanna.
Credits: Animation – Gerard Baldwin, Layout – Bob Givens, Backgrounds – Joe Montell, Story – Mike Maltese, Story Sketches – Dan Gordon, Titles – Art Goble, Production Supervision – Howard Hanson.
Voice Cast: Snooper, Blabber, Monkey – Daws Butler; Manager, Wife, Wellington – Don Messick.
Music: Phil Green, Jack Shaindlin.
Episode: Quick Draw McGraw Show M-17, Production J-44.
First aired: week of January 18, 1960 (rerun, week of July 18, 1960).
Plot: Snooper is hired to find a pet Globobian monkey in a supermarket.

There was once a cartoon called ‘Ride ‘Em Bosko,’ which ends with the cartoonists in live action not being able to think of an ending to the short and walking off camera. Writer Mike Maltese seems to have had a mental block and a similar admission in this cartoon. Snooper skates into a pie held by a monkey he’s chasing. “Say, Snoop,” says Blab. “I didn’t know it was time for lunch.” Snooper responds, with hands held out, “I’ll think of a smart answer later.” Maltese wrote all 78 cartoons in the 26 shows of the first season of ‘The Quick Draw McGraw Show,’ so he can be forgiven when he occasionally gets stuck for an idea.

There are some cute dialogue bits in this cartoon, along with the usual Snooper and Blabber formula and catchphrases and an ending out of nowhere. Maybe the best part of the whole cartoon is the odd character design of the picked-on little husband by Bob Givens. And you’ve got to like how his bossy wife has the famed Hanna-Barbera 5 O’Clock Shadow.



Gerard Baldwin is the animator working with Givens in this one. He had a tendency at H-B to animate characters with their mouths way up in the face in three-quarter view. And the characters have thick necks that stretch down into their clothing.



Snoop shows his origins with the first line of the cartoon. For those of you not up on your old radio shows, Maltese, Daws Butler and whoever else at Hanna-Barbera patterned Snooper after Archie the bartender on ‘Duffy’s Tavern,’ played by Ed Gardner. Archie picked up the phone to open each week’s show with the words “Duffy’s Tavern, where the elite meet to eat...” Daws borrows Archie’s voice and his catchphrase at the opening of the cartoon (after the obligatory shot of an eyeball drawing on an office window) when Snoop picks up the phone and answers with “Snooper Detective Agency, where the indiscreet meet defeat.”

Maltese really stretches it a bit in the opening with dialogue that deserves to be ridiculed on screen after it’s said, but is treated like real funniness instead. Snoop is offered $5,000 to catch an escaped monkey. “Hey, for that kind of money, I’ll be glad to be a monkey’s uncle.” Then he tells Blab “There’s monkey business afoot.” At least Maltese skipped a reference to barrels.

Blab gets all excited and prattles on and on when he hears the case is “a 906.” He did the same thing in another cartoon. I presume this is Maltese trying to make it appear Blab really is a “blabber-mouse” but the blabbing aspect was never really a character trait.


Snoop: Quiet. Now, tell me assistant, what’s a 906?
Blab: How do I know, Snoop? I’m only your assistant.

I sure wish there were decent versions of the Snooper and Blabber cartoons available somewhere; you’ll notice the colour is pixilated on these screen grabs. I like some of the stylised settings Givens comes up with, like the supermarket and the street with parked cars in the cartoon’s next scene. The stripe on one car is very Fairlane-ish.



Snoop mingles “with the bandages and the cold cuts” while Blab talks to the store manager with Don Messick’s floorwalker voice that has a hint of Frank Nelson’s famous “Yes?” man on the Jack Benny show (without the squealing). Blab asks him where he keeps his loose monkeys. “Under ‘M’, of course,” he replies facetiously. And that’s where the monkey is. Blab sticks him in a paper bag and takes him to the manager to tell him the monkey was indeed under ‘M.’ The manager is sceptical until the monkey pops his head out of the bad. “I wonder if ‘Head Shrinker’ is under ‘S.’ I need one.”

Blab rushes to Snoop and starts blabbing “I found the pet Globobian monkey you told me to keep quiet about.” “I’m glad you’re doing such a loud job of it,” Snoop replies. While all this is happening, the monkey’s escaping. Catchphrase time: “Folly that paper sack!” and “Halt in the name of the Private Eye Lacrosse Team!”



The rest of the cartoon is pretty much a chase with the monkey outsmarting Snooper. First, the critter puts gum on the floor to stop dead the shopping cart Snooper’s travelling in. Next, he and Snooper strap on bars of soap for the aforementioned skating/pie scene (“I’ll take the polish off his monkeyshines”). Next, Blab corners him at the top of a cash register. The monkey opens the till to bop Blab. Then, it’s “monkey sees-monkey does.” Snoop knocks himself on the head with a hammer, hoping the monkey will copy it. He does, but not hard enough to knock himself out. Snoop demonstrates with the natural end result.

Finally, the scene cuts to the shrew wife and meek husband Wellington. She wags her finger at him and tells him not to move while she looks at the kumquats. When she disappears, the monkey switches his fez for the little man’s hat, grabs his shopping cart and takes off. The shrew is so stupid, she thinks the monkey’s her husband and runs after him down the street, threatening him for daring to move.

Well, if the monkey’s going to pretend to be a man, Snoop decides the man is now a Globobian monkey and calls its owner to claim the reward. Says the man to the audience, “Gosh. I sure feel sorry for that monkey.” Cartoon ends. It’s impossible to tell if Snooper really thinks the man is the monkey but it’s irrelevant.



Snooper and Blabber cartoons always seem to end with Phil Green’s ‘Custard Pie Capers.’ This cartoon doesn’t. But we get Green’s ‘Dr Quack’ back-to-back on the sound-track, the sound-cutter cuing into the middle of the tune the first time it’s heard. And two of Jack Shaindlin’s three ‘Mad Rush’ cues get used twice.


0:00 - Snooper and Blabber Main Title Theme (Hanna-Barbera-Curtin)
0:25 - CRAZY GOOF (Shaindlin) – Shot of office building, office scene.
1:14 - GR-93 DRESSED TO KILL (Green) – Snoop and Blab walk to store, talk to manager, interrogate monkey.
2:42 - LFU-117-3 MAD RUSH No 3 (Shaindlin) – Blab pushes monkey in cart.
2:52 - GR-74 POPCORN (Green) – Blab talks to manager, Snoop peers into cart.
3:47 - LFU-117-1 MAD RUSH No 1 (Shaindlin) – Monkey runs, chews gum.
4:20 - ASININE (Shaindlin) – Monkey tosses gum on floor, skates with soap, Snoop puts soap on feet.
4:57 - LFU-117-3 MAD RUSH No 3 (Shaindlin) (Shaindlin) – Snoop skates after monkey, Snoop face in pie.
5:31 - GR-456 DR QUACK (Green) – “Meanwhislt, folly that monkey!” Snoop with hammer, Snoop sticks out tongue, bashes himself on head.
6:25 - GR-456 DR QUACK (Green) – Wife hectors husband, monkey exchanges hats, wife yells at monkey.
6:44 - LFU-117-1 MAD RUSH No 1 (Shaindlin) – Woman chases after monkey.
6:52 - fast circus chase music (Shaindlin) – Snooper leads husband away.
7:10 - Snooper and Blabber End Title theme (Curtin).

2 comments:

  1. The fat lady: "Remember, Wellington: don't move! I'll pick an aspirin for me."
    Wellington: "Yes, dear."

    ReplyDelete
  2. This may be the only time "Crazy Goof" is heard outside of a Quick Draw cartoon. It's usually used to establish scenes, such as Quick Draw and Baba first being introduced by the narrator.

    ReplyDelete