Saturday, January 19, 2013

Quick Draw McGraw — Scooter Rabbit

Produced and Directed by Joe Barbera and Bill Hanna.
Credits: Animation – Bob Bentley, Dick Lundy (uncredited), Layout – Paul Sommer, Backgrounds – Art Lozzi, Written by Mike Maltese, Story Director – Alex Lovy, Titles – Art Goble, Production Supervision – Howard Hanson.
Voice Cast: Quick Draw McGraw, Baba Looey, Scooter Rabbit, Snuffles – Daws Butler; Mayor – Hal Smith.
Music: Phil Green, Jack Shaindlin, Clarence Wheeler?, Lou De Francesco?.
Episode: Quick Draw McGraw Show M-036, Production J-106.
First aired: week of February 14, 1961.
Plot: A Texas mayor up for re-election hires Quick Draw to bring in Scooter Rabbit.

A smart-ass rabbit quickly outwits a western character and, before anyone knows it, leads him in a boisterous college football-type cheer for no particular reason. That describes a scene in the war-time Bugs Bunny cartoon Super Rabbit. And it describes a scene in the Quick Draw McGraw cartoon Scooter Rabbit made some 17 years later.

Scooter Rabbit is no Bugs Bunny, but he is tricky and dispenses non sequiturs along the way. Making him a fast-talker quickens the pace of the cartoon; it doesn’t seem like the characters are standing around and talking. Add to that Daws Butler doing his Groucho Marx-inspired voice (heard in Bugs in the 1956 Warner Bros. cartoon Wideo Wabbit), Quick Draw’s usual cluelessness and an appearance by Snuffles doing his dog biscuit routine, and you have a pretty good cartoon.

The similarity to elements of a Warners cartoon is not purely coincidental. This one was written by Mike Maltese, and readers here well know his lineage (his writing partner, Tedd Pierce, came up with the story for Super Rabbit). Even the animator spent some time at Warners. Bob Bentley was a journeyman, bouncing from Warners to Fleischer to Lantz to MGM to Lantz to Hanna-Barbera. Robert Jarvis Bentley was born in Philadelphia to John Harrison Bentley, Jr. and Hannah Helen Jarvis Bentley on March 11, 1907, eleven months and one day after his parents got married. He was the oldest of three children. You can read Bentley’s biography at Joe Campana’s website. Perhaps the most interesting thing was Bentley’s father died in 1918 (in the flu epidemic?) and three years later his mother married animator Les Elton. Mrs. Bentley and the kids had been living with Elton’s family in 1910; at the time, Elton was 13 and Bob Bentley was 3. The Elton marriage didn’t last.

I’ve never really examined Bentley’s drawing style but, in this cartoon anyway, he likes heads that are proportionately bigger than bodies. And big eyes. Also, when eyes are closed, he has a duplicate curved line above the eye.



The plot starts with a Texas mayor who, following a storyline of at least two earlier Warners cartoons, has managed to get rid of all the rabbits in his area. All but one that is. Scooter Rabbit. And he won’t be re-elected unless he does, so he hires Quick Draw to do it. The mayor is played by Hal Smith, his only part in this cartoon, and he pulls out a quieter version of the voice he later used for Cousin Tex on The Flintstones. Maltese gently spoofs political oratory that was old-timey even when the cartoon was made. “In behalf of our fair city, I welcome you, and I say, without fear of successful contradiction…” And on and on he goes. He even fits in “From the rock-bound coast of Maine to the sun-kissed shores of California…” I presume someone actually said that in a speech at one time but I can’t find who it was. “What a windsbags!” remarks Baba Looey. “Hooolld on thar, mayor,” Quick Draw butts in. “Give it to me, quick-like. I could be double-parked, ya know.”

The whole contretemps is interrupted by Scooter Rabbit, who has a little leaping-run cycle, and a catchphrase of “yahoo!” (which, as you may know, was supposed to be Fred Flintstone’s until Alan Reed changed it in a recording session to something involving “yabba”). Scooter’s stream of patter is borrowed from Groucho on “You Bet Your Life.” “Welcome to ‘You Bet Your Life You Won’t Catch Me.’ Hiya, mayor. Been stuffing any ballot boxes lately?” With that, Scooter jumps up and zips out of the scene. I like Bentley’s drawing of the rabbit when he’s held in mid-air for six frames.

It’s time to bring in Snuffles to hunt down Scooter. I like how Snuffles just happens to be sitting there in the desert doing nothing until Quick Draw shows up. Snuffles wants a dog biscuit. You know the routine. Snuffles hugs himself and floats into the air and down again in post-hunger ecstacy. The animation is re-used from Ali-Baba Looey from earlier in the season. That cartoon was animated by Dick Lundy. The Snuffles-ecstasy drawings look more like George Nicholas’ than Lundy’s (beady eyes, wavy mouth) but I’ll bow to the earlier credits.



Scooter plays with Snuffles’ head. Literally. He knocks on Snuffles’ nose like it’s a door. More Groucho-like patter: “Is anybody home? Not it’s any of my business, but how do you do? I hope you’re hale and hardy. I used to know a hale and hardy once. They used to go to different schools together.” The rabbit zips out of the scene and zips back in wearing a doctor’s head mirror. He has Snuffles say “Aw” and crawls halfway into the dog’s mouth. The rabbit diagnoses lots of rest. Cut to the next scene where Quick Draw and Baba see Snuffles wearing a leg cast in a hospital bed.



Scooter looks at Quick Draw and Baba and blurts out a running gag: “Well, if it isn’t hale and hardy. Why aren’t you at different schools together? Then we get a radio reference, just like in a Warners cartoon. Snuffles bares his teeth at the rabbit. Scooter: “You have 32 teeth. Would you like to try for 16?” A honk on the nose follows and Scooter zooms away. Snuffles is supposedly chasing after him but then the rabbit zips up behind Quick Draw. “Come on, let’s have a little school spirit.” That’s when Scooter leads Quick Draw in a cheer that we document for posterity:


Strawberry shortcake, huckleberry pie,
V-I-C-T-O-R-Y!
Will we win?
Well, I guess.
Snuffles, Snuffles, yes, yes, yes.
Hooray, Snuffles!

“Uh, Quickstraw…” Baba starts to assess the situation. Quick Draw tells us he’ll do the thinnin’ around here. “Well, I thin’ Scooter is doin’ all the thininn’,” Baba rightly points out. Now comes a scene where Scooter goads Snuffles into grabbing him. Scooter’s on a bluff in the distance. Snuffles is in the foreground. The two keep exchanging places in some nice perspective animation, with their bodies leaving behind a trail of speed lines. By the way, you’ll notice the lumpy clouds and lumpy hills. That shows you Art Lozzi’s drawing the backgrounds.



Well, this is getting Quick Draw nowhere. He orders Snuffles to get the rabbit. The dog wants another dog biscuit. He gets one. You know what happens next. But now, Scooter Rabbit wants a biscuit. So Quick Draw tosses one in his mouth. The expected reaction follows. Little feet lines get left behind as the rabbit leaps into the air. “Well, what do you know. It’s spring again,” he says upon landing.

Quick Draw and Baba conclude the dog biscuit has calmed down the rabbit and the mayor can get re-elected. Scooter launches into the “rock-bound coast of Maine” cliché political speech. Baba’s tag line is a little lame: “You know sometheen, Quickstraw? He’s pretty good. I theen I vote for him.” And the iris closes.

This was the only cartoon featuring Scooter Rabbit. Hanna-Barbera came up with a quick rabbit a few years later called Ricochet Rabbit whose cartoons weren’t nearly as funny as this one.

The sound cutter wisely decided to avoid any music during the cheerleading sequence. The rest of the music is pretty typical for a Quick Draw cartoon; Phil Green’s “Custard Pie Capers” ends it, as it ended many Snooper and Blabber cartoons. The cue that I think is “Woodwind Capers” by Clarence Wheeler is used when Scooter eats the dog biscuit. The cutter also digs up the familiar harp music when Snuffles floats down in post-biscuit delight.


0:00 – Quick Draw McGraw Sub Main Title theme (Curtin).
0:15 - GR-472 HICKSVILLE (Green) – Quick Draw and Baba walk on desert.
0:27 - Oh Susannah (Trad.) – Knock on door, mayor prattles, “What a windsbags!”
1:01 - GR-472 HICKSVILLE (Green) – “You mean Billy the kid…”, Quick Draw and mayor talk.
2:06 - jaunty bassoon and skippy strings (Shaindlin) - Scooter rabbit “Yahoo!”s, zips out of scene, Snuffles points to mouth, floats.
3:02 - GR-99 THE DIDDLECOMB HUNT (Green) – Baba dog biscuit comment, Snuffles on trail, Scooter looks down Snuffles’ throat, Snuffles in bed, “After him Snuffles!”
4:37 - fast circus chase music (Shaindlin) – “Don’t let him out…”, Scooter zips behind Quick Draw.
4:50 - no music – cheerleading scene.
5:06 - GR-96 BY JIMINY! IT’S JUMBO (Green) – Baba talks to Quick Draw, Scooter zips away.
5:23 - LFU-117-1 MAD RUSH No 1 (Shaindlin) – “Grab him, Snuffles,” cliff scene, Quick Draw tosses dog biscuit.
5:55 - tick tock/flute music (Shaindlin) – Snuffles eats biscuit, floats up.
6:07 - C-C-F# short light underscore (Wheeler?) – Snuffles lands, Scooter wants biscuit, floats down.
6:32 - SF-11 LIGHT MOVEMENT (De Francesco?) – Baba talks to Quick Draw, Scooter gives political speech.
6:52 - GR-79 CUSTARD PIE CAPERS BRIDGE No 2 (Green) – Baba Looey tagline.
7:00 - Quick Draw McGraw Sub End Title theme (Curtin).

8 comments:

  1. Actually I think one of Shaindlin's sports fanfares or chase scenes would fit the cheerleading scene very nicely.:)Steve

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  2. Robert Bentley is very reminded by animating various shorts from Universal Pictures/Walter Lantz (more exactly, the shorts directed by Paul J. Smith, between 1953 and 1960 [including various Woody Woodpecker shorts]).





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  3. It's interesting that despite the seeming potential a fast-talking personality like Groucho would offer Hanna-Babera's limited animation (where good voice work was far more important to a successful show), the studio never tried a regular Groucho-like character for another two decades, until Crazy Claws showed up on the Avery-influenced Kwicky Kowala Show.

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  4. Bentley also did stuff for DePatie-Freleng, I'm sure of it.

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  5. I notice that several cartoons in the Quick Draw trilogy- YIPPEE COYOTE, SNAGGLEPUSS and this- were named simply for the guest character. It's as if Bill and Joe- or whoever gives titles to the cartoons- saw spinoff potential and named the cartoon accordingly. In one instance, that certainly was the case.

    Daws' voice seems to be a warmup for Fibber Fox, who I had long thought was a cariacture of Groucho- not knowing who Shelley Berman was.

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  6. This seems to be the only cartoon Robert Bentley animated that didn't have Hoyt Curtin score. He was quite active at the studio circa 1960-62, having done numerous Snagglepuss, Hokey, Yakky, Curtin-scored Yogi shorts and one Curtin-scored Quick Draw. And possibly part of one Season 2 FLINTSTONE episode, "The Beauty Contest".

    I'm not sure where Bentley went after his H-B stint, but he would later turn up at Filmation.

    For a long time I thought cartoons animated by Bentley were animated by George Goepper. The simple facial expressions and soulful eyes are similar. Characters he animated in the concurrent TV Magoos are easily identifiable as well. So UPA is yet another studio Bentley worked for.

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  7. Bently aslso animated the "faux-antisoking" Porky cartoon from 1938 by Frank Tashlin, "Wholly Smoke", the credit "Robt.Bently", asnd George Manuell writing as ":Geo.Manuell".SC

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  8. Such a nice post! We all know that lots of children love to watch these cartoon characters and they will learn something from it.

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