Saturday, July 5, 2014
Snooper and Blabber — Bronco Bluster
Credits: Animation – John Boersma, Layout – Jack Huber, Backgrounds – Anthony Rizzo, Written by Mike Maltese, Story Director – Lew Marshall, Titles – Art Goble, Production Supervision – Howard Hanson.
Voice Cast: Snooper, Blabber, Bee – Daws Butler; Saddle Bumpley, Cop, lion - Doug Young; Twister – Hal Smith/Daws Butler.
Music: Hoyt Curtin.
First Aired: 1962.
Plot: Snooper and Blabber are hired to find escaped rodeo horse Twister.
That noted tunesmith, Michael A. Maltese, brought us the following touching lyrics of a man, pining for the land of endless prairie:
Oh, the wide open spaces call me,
There’s lots of room to roam.
The city isn’t for me,
The west, my home sweet home.
The ballad of the Golden West touches Blabber Mouse. Responds the sniffling Blab: “Makes me kind of sorry I’m from St. Louis.”
John Boersma is the credited animator on this short. His dialogue is animated just like Ken Muse, with the little row of upper teeth and the tongue moving around. Jack Huber is the layout artist and he’s designed the Saddle Bumpley, the rodeo owner, with the round, beady eyes like Paul Sommer would put in characters. And Tony Rizzo’s the background artist, drawing foliage much like Bob Gentle did in some cartoons.
As best as I can tell, this is the only H-B TV short Rizzo worked on until late in the ‘60s, perhaps on a freelance basis. After leaving Disney, Rizzo provided backgrounds for Mr. Magoo and Dick Tracy TV cartoons, and the Rudy Larriva Roadrunner cartoons. Format Films received a sub-contract for them, from UPA in the first two cases and Warner Bros. in the last. He also painted background art for “Top Cat” and “Jonny Quest” and got saddled with a Loopy De Loop, so he could have been employed by Hanna-Barbera in between gigs at Format.
There’s a familiar opening, as well. There’s a shot of Snooper’s office door (with the private eyeball) and Snoop answering the phone in his best Archie-of-Duffy’s-Tavern manner. “Hello? Snooper Detective Agency, where the indiscreet meet defeat.” It’s a 12-0-7—robbery at the rodeo. Twister the performing horse is missing. “And you’ll pay us a Texas oil well to find him? Throw in the barrels and it’s a deal,” says Snoop on the phone. Maltese shows his New York roots. Blab rushes off screen, zips back wearing a ten-gallon hat and exclaims: “We’ll take a short cut and head ‘em off at the Bowery.”
The next scene is in Saddle Bumpley’s office (yes, it includes a shot of his office door) as the rodeo boss outlines what “trans-perspired.” Boersma’s attempt at getting movement in the scene is by having four head positions for Bumpley, a few hand gestures, and some eye blinks, though Bumpley shrugs at one point. The scene sets up the plot as Blab figures out the horse is homesick (“Beginner’s luck,” spits an annoyed Snoop).
They spot Twister in the park. The horses raises and lowers his eyebrows like Groucho Marx but unlike Groucho or Bugs Bunny, he’s not someone you can like all that much. Maybe the fact he (mostly) neighs as he pulls his stunts takes away a quality that could be added with snappy dialogue. Interestingly, the neighs are by Hal Smith. Maybe they were taken from another cartoon, as Daws Butler gives the horse the other voice effects.
We get a catch-phrase: “Stop in the name of the Private School of Horsey Set!” shouts Snoop.
The gags are basic—Twister substitutes himself for a statue of General Sherman’s horse (Snoop kicks the statue by mistake), then rides off the statue of the general atop him (cue the puzzled cop gag), plants footprints leading to a lion’s mouth, and sits in a lake making it look like he’s in ten feet of water (Snoop and Blab dive in to mud a couple of feet below). That’s when Snoop pulls a guitar out of nowhere (“That’s the secret of our profession, Blab. Always be prepared,” is his explanation for its availability) and stars crooning to make the animal come out of hiding. It works. The bawling horse pops his head out of the bushes.
There are a few pieces of Flintstones music here, and the sad violin when the horse is crying made an appearance on both “The Flintstones” and “Top Cat,” if I recall. The final scene is underscored with “(That’s) Quick Draw McGraw.”