Saturday, 16 April 2016

Snagglepuss – One Two Many

Produced and Directed by Joe Barbera and Bill Hanna.
Credits: Animation – Don Towsley, Layout – Tony Rivera, Backgrounds – Art Lozzi, Written by Mike Maltese, Story Director – John Freeman, Titles – Art Goble, Production Supervision – Howard Hanson.
Voice Cast: Snagglepuss, Snaggletooth – Daws Butler; Lila – Jean Vander Pyl; Mouse – ?
Music: Hoyt Curtin.
Copyright 1962 by Hanna-Barbera Productions.
Plot: Snagglepuss’ twin brother Snaggletooth pays a visit, confusing the scheming, husband-hunting Lila.

Mike Maltese mixes together some pretty good elements in this cartoon, including the shrewish, selfish Lila in her final appearance. We get Snagglepuss, the merry confirmed bachelor. We get his twin brother Snaggletooth, who is ready to marry Lila if it means he can get his paws on her wealth (and for no other reason). Toss in the old mistaken-identity element and we get kind of a bedroom farce without the sex. Snagglepuss wants Lila out of the house. Snaggletooth wants her in. At no time does she realise she’s dealing with twin brothers; she thinks she’s wooing “that not too terribly homely bachelor” Snagglepuss. It’s a nice little plot.

Maltese managed to fit in fun dialogue routines in most of his cartoons for Hanna-Barbera and this one’s no exception. The best of it comes at the start of the action, when Lila pretends a hunter is after her so Snagglepuss will take her in and thus be ripe to be guilt-tripped into a marriage. Lila fires a rifle in the air and screams.


Snagglepuss: Sounds like someone’s scrapin’ a rusty nail across a blackboard.
Lila: Oh, won’t you save me from the hunter, kind sir? (skids to a stop and poses coyly) My name is Lila, I’m single, love dancing, lions and sports, and have a kind disposition.
Snagglepuss: Couldn’t you to go the YWCA, er somethin’?
Lila: I prefer it here.
Snagglepuss: But, but, but, but...
Lila (cutting him off): I insist!

Once inside...

Lila: My, what a dusty house. It needs a woman’s touch.
Snagglepuss: I do believe the hunter’s gone. You may go now. Leave, even.
Lila: Say, are you hinting that I leave?
Snagglepuss: Heavens to Murgatroyd, no. I’m not hintin’. I’m tellin’ ya outright. Go! Git, even!

At this point, Lila fakes a fainting spell. In a way, she really deserves to get screwed around by the equally-scheming Snaggletooth, who unexpectedly arrives on the scene, but Snagglepuss comes out the worst of it through much of the cartoon, stuff tossed at him and being bashed with a broom. He tries to get rid of her using a mouse which bears a striking resemblance to other Hanna-Barbera meeces, and a “writ of Evictus Delicatessen” (Maltese adds a small-time vaudeville groaner when Lila says “I thought you were going for egg foo yung” and Snagglepuss replies “Don’t believe I know the Oriental gentleman.”). Lila finally rushes out of the home, borrowing from the Snagglepuss vernacular: “So exit-uh, single-blissing it all the way-uh, stage-left-uh!”

Jean Vander Pyl does a tremendous job as Lila using a lowbrow, New York-ish accent (Maltese was born in a not exactly highbrow part of New York and had written for the New York-ish Bugs Bunny).

This cartoon was animated by Don Towsley, who is not content to let characters stand and blab. He employs gestures and clenched fists.



Towsley has some interesting curved body holds before a character zips out of the frame. He also has characters look straight into the camera when talking to the audience, not with the head at a bit of an angle.



Some dry brushwork by the Hanna-Barbera ink and paint department.



And here’s an endless run cycle. There are four drawings in the cycle, each held for two frames (eight frames). There are 16 frames from the start to the end of the background drawing, meaning the cycle repeats twice before the background repeats. This is a slowed down version.



Donald Frank G. Towsley was born May 11, 1912 in Wisconsin (likely in Kaukauna) to LaFayette Frank and Frances G. (Reich) Towsley. The family was in Atlanta by 1920 and Los Angeles by 1930 (Towsley’s parents had separated). Towsley had a job as a clerk in 1932 but began work at Walt Disney in the mid-‘30s, animating on Donald Duck cartoons and features. He seems to have left the studio around 1947. Bob Clampett hired him to supervise the animation on his one cartoon for Republic, It’s a Grand Old Nag. Towsley then went into commercial work. He was employed at Lee Blair’s Film Graphics, Inc. in New York, animating on the TB warning film Rodney (copyright March 23, 1951) and directing The Village and the School (1954). He showed up at Hanna-Barbera around 1961 but was gone by the end of the year. Towsley died in Los Angeles on November 25, 1986.

John Freeman is the story director and I don’t know if he’s responsible for this but there’s a really abrupt cut in the opening. There’s a shot of the outside of Snagglepuss’ cave and the camera trucks back on the drawing. Suddenly, there’s a cut to a close-up. It would have looked better if the camera stopped trucking and then cut to the next scene.

And, finally, one other piece of Maltesean dialogue: “Then I shall fuhly shorth. Or is it silly forth? Or nelly fifth?”

5 comments:

  1. Jean was "channeling" Vivian Blaine's interpretation of "Miss Adelaide" from the Broadway and movie versions of "Guys and Dolls". I suspect Joe Barbera asked her before the recording session, "What kind of voice would YOU give Lila?". And she no doubt answered, "I see her as 'Miss Adelaide'- the way Vivian Blaine played her...'I want youse to leave right now, I cannot stand such a poor sport in the game of love!'."

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  2. So there WAS a Snaggletooth,identical right down to the Bert Lahr/Wizard of Oz/Cowardly Lion voice! Heavens to Mergatroyd!SC

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  3. Don Towsley was one of the team of animators who brought Jiminy Cricket to life in "Pinocchio". He also animated Tom and Jerry for Chuck Jones in the early 1960s. Don was nicknamed "the wooden animator", not because he animated Pinocchio, but for his handling of characters' bodies. He tended to move the body as a unit, and rather stiffly, not using overlapping action.

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  4. I also think it's a good plot, but......When did Snagletooth ever appear on the show, when there wasn't a "need" for him.

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  5. Towsley shows up at DePatie-Freleng too. 'Pink on the Cob' is one I can remember his name appearing on - there may be others.

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