Credits: Animation – Allen Wilzbach, Layout – Don Sheppard, Backgrounds – Bob Gentle, Written by Mike Maltese, Story Director – John Freeman, Titles – Art Goble, Production Supervision – Howard Hanson.
Voice Cast: Maiden Clarissa – Jean Vander Pyl; Snagglepuss, Irate Father – Daws Butler; Duke de Geese – Don Messick.
Music: Hoyt Curtin.
Plot: Snagglepuss pulls a Cyrano de Bergerac routine to win the hand of a maiden for a shy, French-accented Duke.
Snagglepuss was a character with endless possibilities. Anything involving theatricality or the great dramatic works of literature could be easily woven into a plot for the stage rhetoric-loving mountain lion. Especially if costumes were involved. And if said works were familiar enough to be used as a vehicle of parody.
So it is that Snagglepuss is plunked down into that cartoon land that isn’t quite Merrie Olde England, isn’t quite 18th Century France but isn’t quite the present, either, as writer Mike Maltese adapts the tale of Cyrano de Bergerac. Well, he adapts the best-known part of the novel, when Christian de Neuvillette proxies for the big-nosed de Bergerac to woo the lovely maiden Roxane.
Maltese, noted for putting the language of romance into a stinky French skunk, concocted these mots d’amour for the cartoon’s version of the famous scene:
My poor heart all aflutter?
Is it to build a fence?
Or buy a pound of butter?
Nay! I come ridin’ hence—
I don’t need a shove—
Tho’ the fare was 50 cents
I come to woo my love.
I will finish my rhyme.
Now, wilt thou be mine?
Part of the fun of this cartoon is it is like a stage, and everyone in it merely players, some of whom lapse out of character and switch from a stage declamatory style to give us asides in some lower-class American voice. Here’s an exchange after maiden Clarissa’s weight starts cracking the balcony she’s on and Snagglepuss hammers in a support beam.
Snag: There! That ought to hold an elephant.Jean Vander Pyl is really great in this. Her chubby maiden talks like a really bad actress reading lines until she snaps out of character (as in the last sentence above).
Clarissa: Elephant! Who dares calleth me an elephant?
Snag (playing a lute): I come a wooin’ thee, with heart so pure. I am lovesick, and you are my only cure.
Clarissa: Who doth help and whine, as though t’were beneath my balcony?
Snag: Not only does yon buxom belle lack shape, but she also has no ear for music.
Clarissa: Do I hear the bleatings of a disenchanted donkey?
Snag: Neether, neither, my fair lady. ‘Tis I, the Duck de Geese, come to woo ya with lover’s rhyme.
Clarissa: Who, me? Are you sure you have the right address?
Snagglepuss’ wooing is interrupted by “the inevitable, ever-lovin’ irate father. The two get into a sabre duel. “Stop it! Wait!” shouts the maiden. “He is no burglar. He doth come to win my fair hand. (out of character) Don’t blow the chance of a life-time!”
The animator of this cartoon is Allen Wilzbach. Whether he’s still alive, I don’t know, but he was born December 1, 1929 and grew up in Cheviot, Ohio where his dad drove a milk truck. He was still in Ohio in 1948 as he placed in an art competition in Cincinnati that year. I believe Greg Wilzbach, who worked at Disney, is his son. Wilzbach has his characters almost facing the camera during some of the dialogue in this cartoon. An odd thing he animates (which may have come from Maltese’s story) is little hearts breaking near the Duke. His heart isn’t broken at this time, so I’m not sure why they’d shatter like that.
And before we taketh our leave, wouldst thou vieweth a stoney interior from Robert Mac Gentle, with our two heroes, bowin’ all the way, stage centre.