The best part of any Snagglepuss cartoon is when the histrionic mountain lion fills the air with one of his speeches, with puns and clichés strung together with non sequiturs. He does it in The Gangsters All Here. The plot’s simple. Two gangsters invade Snagglepuss’ home. He pretends to be a lion-skin rug but after getting shot in the head (with no ill effect), becomes so annoyed that he disguises himself in a ‘30s mobster outfit.
Joe Barbera once said he liked to match writers to characters and Maltese was a perfect match for Snagglepuss. He had a great sense of wordplay and, since Hanna-Barbera’s short cartoons were pretty much dialogue by 1961, as long as Snagglepuss was handed amusing lines that fit his character, he could carry a cartoon pretty well.
This cartoon sure doesn’t rely on animation. There are whole scenes of around three seconds when all a character does is blink or turn his head to and from the camera. And here’s an example of a take when Snagglepuss gets shot in the head. There is no take.
Lew Marshall is the animator. Lew, to me, was the weakest of the four guys animating (I’m including Mike Lah) when Hanna-Barbera went into the syndicated half-hour cartoon business in 1958. But even then, Marshall drew some really nice takes, especially of Mr. Jinks. Here, in 1961, laughs are dependent on the situation and the quip. After the gunfire, the crook Muggsy Magilla says “Dat’s a bad taxidermy job. Da head is empty.” To the right is one of Lew’s crash drawings (“Exit, straight up!”). This is as funny as he gets.
Maltese relies on some tried-and-true routines as the story unfolds.
● The TV switch-up bit. The dialogue makes it appear Snagglepuss has been shot to death before the scene cuts to an announcer on TV urging viewers to tune in next week to “The Unbearables.” It turns out Snagglepuss is merely acting along to the dialogue by the Cagney-esque crook Rocky on the off-stage TV set.
● The disguised-as-rug bit. That’s what Snagglepuss does in the next segment when Muggsy Magilla and his henchman McGoofy bust into his cave. Snagglepuss did it before in the Augie Doggie cartoon “The Party Lion” (1959). Yogi Bear did it before that in “Be My Guest Pest” (1958). In fact, it’s the same kind of gag in Daffy Duck’s “Cracked Quack” (1952), written by Warren Foster at Warner Bros.
This part of the cartoon has a nice piece where McGoofy is too stupid to notice the mustard bottle right in front of him (McGoofy has Daws Butler’s Slapsie Maxie Rosenbloom voice). “Oh, for Heaven’s sake! It’s over there. Under your nose, even!” says Snagglepuss, and gets up to point out the various things on the kitchen table. “Oh, gee, thanks, lion rug,” replies McGoofy.
● The “Save-us-police!” bit. At the end of the cartoon, Snagglepuss reveals he’s “[J]ust a lion. Law abiding,’ even. A member of the Kiwanis.” The crooks become so afraid, they run to a cop to give up, as a tuba version of the not-yet-Flintstones theme plays in the background. I can’t begin to guess how many times this was used at Hanna-Barbera; it was the memorable ending to the Bugs Bunny cartoon “Bugs and Thugs” (1954), again written by Warren Foster.
Maltese uses the hugely popular The Untouchables TV series about ‘30s Chicago gangsters as a starting point in this cartoon and a running gag. Snagglepuss is watching The Unbearables. Later, he dresses up as one of The Unmentionables (an obsolete term for women’s underwear). When Muggsy surrenders, he tells the cop “Lions is da Unbeatables.”
Snagglepuss ends the cartoon with the “Ain’t the truth, ain’t it the truth” line copped from Bert Lahr as the Cowardly Lion in The Wizard of Oz. And we gets Lahr’s “Heavens to Murgatroyd” as well (which gets repeated by McGoofy).
Bob Gentle handles the backgrounds. He doesn’t get a chance to shine. Here’s his establishing shot (Art Goble did the lettering) and part of an exterior followed by some interiors. The last one looks to have been painted with a roller. Comparisons to The Flintstones are invited.
Dick Bickenbach is the layout artist. His incidental characters are pretty standard-issue for the studio.
Don Messick and Daws Butler supply all the voices. Daws seems to have gone to the dentist before the recording session; some of his “s” sounds are slurpy, like Blabber’s. Messick plays the TV announcer, Muggsy, the cop with machine gun and—I’m going out on a limb here—the fly. The pitch is within either Messick’s or Butler’s range. Messick did a similar sounding, though higher-pitched, buzz in “Baba Bait” as the Masked Mosquito. It’s not the same as Daws’ mosquito in the Huckleberry Hound cartoon “Skeeter Trouble.” The fact I compared several cartoons to make a conclusion about a fly’s voice artist shows you I should probably end this post.