Saturday, May 21, 2016

Snagglepuss – Live and Lion

Produced and Directed by Bill Hanna and Joe Barbera.
Credits: Animation – Lew Marshall, Layout – Tony Rivera, Backgrounds – Art Lozzi; Written by Mike Maltese, Story Director – Alex Lovy, Titles – Art Goble, Production Supervision – Howard Hanson.
Voice Cast: Snagglepuss, Ranger – Daws Butler; Yakky Doodle – Jimmy Weldon.
Music: Hoyt Curtin.
Copyright 1961 by Hanna-Barbara Productions.
Plot: Snagglepuss forsakes eating Yakky Doodle and instead teaches him how to avoid hunters.

Bill Hanna and Joe Barbera loved inflicting their favourite little duck on unsuspecting cartoon viewers whenever possible for reasons they took to their graves.

For those of you who just tuned in, Yakky Doodle originated with a little duck character Hanna and Barbera put into a number of their MGM cartoons in the 1950s. When MGM kicked them out in 1957, they formed their own studio and dug up a whole pile of concepts they had used at Metro(and others by fellow director Tex Avery) for their TV cartoons. Thus the little duck found his way into Yogi Bear cartoons, Augie Doggie cartoons and this one starring Snagglepuss before getting his own series.

As a comedy character, Yakky didn’t have a lot going for him. He wallowed in self-pity about his orphan status and how nobody wanted him. Not exactly the basis for loads o’ laffs, is it? Writer Mike Maltese finally had the common sense to remove the negatives and what remained was a naïve, cheerful duckling (well-voiced by children’s TV show host Jimmy Weldon). That isn’t the basis for more of the aforementioned loads as well, so Maltese added comic villains to provide the humour.

In this cartoon, there are no actual villains, and none are necessary as Snagglepuss is a comic enough character to carry a cartoon.

Nothing really stands out in this cartoon. Snagglepuss gets in his catchphrases and nice turns of phrase, and Maltese drags out the old misread-the-sign gag which goes back to Mr. Magoo and dumb Warner Bros. characters and who knows where else. A park ranger designed by Tony Rivera (overbite, parallel jaw lines) puts up a hunting sign. Is this a park? Then why is hunting allowed? Shouldn’t the ranger be protecting poor woodland creatures? Oh, well. If it is a park, you can tell it is an Art Lozzi park as the tree whereupon the sign is nailed is blue.

Anyway, Yakky reads the “Duck Hunting Season Opens Today” sign as “No Smoking Allowed in the Forest.” Suddenly, there’s gunfire. “Hey! Don’t shoot! I’m not smoking!” yells the bullet-fleeing Yakky as the scene fades. Maltese uses the “no smoking” bit as a running gag.

Snagglepuss discovers Yakky in his mailbox and decides to have him for breakfast, roasting him right in the mailbox over a stove, including some added ingredients “An onion. A carrot. Some collard greens. Some greens without collards, even.” There’s a pepper/sneeze bit, too. But the polite and poor spelling duck (“C-a-t, ‘dog.’ M-a-t, ‘Massachusetts’”) wins Snagglepuss’ sympathy. At least the duck didn’t go for the “will-you-me-my-mama” routine like he pulled in other cartoons. Snagglepuss tries tossing him out of his cave (“I beg to differ. I’m a differ begger”) but when the gunfire returns, he grabs Yakky and hauls him back inside.

Snagglepuss decides to teach Yakky the concept of duck hunting. The first sequence is a set-up to a punch-line about sitting on a tack. The second sequence may have the best line of Yakky’s career.


Snag: If a hunter’s to the right, you simply exit stage left. And if a hunter’s to the left, you simply exit visa-versy.
Yakky: Gee, you’re such a swell fella wasting your time like this when I don’t even know what the heck you’re talking about.



Yakky tries an “exit, stage left” and crashes into Snagglepuss’ furniture, somehow landing inside a sugar bowl. “I like sugar,” is about Maltese can muster for the duck’s scene end-line.



The cartoon ends with reused cycle animation of the ranger hammering, reused animation of guns in the bushes, and Snagglepuss using two fans to fly south along with Yakky Doodle.

On second thought, maybe casting Major Minor as a hunter might have added some pep to this one.

Lew Marshall’s animation is serviceable but uninteresting. As for the music, the opening cue is an unusual cue as Yakky is strolling when it’s playing. I’m used to it being used during running sequences. The rest of Curtin’s background library works fine.

4 comments:

  1. This cartoon is much funnier than most of Yakky's 'official' shorts. Snagglepuss' bemused reactions are more interesting/ironic than Chopper's role as big brother/protector. I also crack up at Snag's 'lesson', even with the corny 'sitting on the tack' routine.

    Maltese was clearly more comfortable writing for the lion than the duck, and this shows in their interaction in this cartoon.

    I had the impression Snag's and Yakky's starring series both began at the same time, with the premiere of THE YOGI BEAR SHOW.

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  2. Was very thoroughly looking forward to this review...always remembered Snag's lines, "I beg to differ, I'm a differ-begger!" I was Yakky was like that more often or that he and Snag had hung out
    more often..SC

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  3. This was truly the debut of Jimmy Weldon as Yakky.

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  4. This is probably the best Yakky cartoon.

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