Saturday, 11 November 2017

Snagglepuss in Be My Ghost

Produced and Directed by Bill Hanna and Joe Barbera.
Credits: Animation – C.L. Hartman, Layout – Walt Clinton, Backgrounds – Neenah Maxwell, Written by Mike Maltese, Story Director – Alex Lovy, Titles – Art Goble, Production Supervision – Howard Hanson.
Voice Cast: Snagglepuss, Harum – Daws Butler; English Passenger, Scarum – Don Messick.
Music: Hoyt Curtin.
Copyright 1961 by Hanna-Barbera Productions.
Plot: Snagglepuss is heckled by two ghosts in an old castle.

One of the little bits of business I liked when I first watched Hanna-Barbera cartoons 55-plus years ago were the little ghosts that rolled up like window shades and disappeared. Mike Maltese came up with Harum and Scarum (or is it “Harem” and “Scarem”?) for an early Snooper and Blabber cartoon (Real Gone Ghosts, 1959). He’s brought them back to tangle with Snagglepuss and about the only difference in Scarum is played now by Don Messick instead of Elliot Field.

This cartoon reminds me a bit of a short Maltese wrote at Warner Bros., The Wearin’ of the Grin (released in 1952) where clueless Porky Pig looks for emergency shelter and meets up with two heckling leprechauns. That one was a bit darker, thanks to its “Red Shoes”-like subplot.

Here’s one of the ghost roll-ups. C.L. Hartman is the animator. I like what he does with Snagglepuss’ fingers.



Snagglepuss tries it himself. “Exit, Olde English style, stage left.” He fails. “I guess I’m not olde English stylish enough to do it.”



The ghost aspect enables Maltese to add impossible bits of business and some corn. He digs out the old “walk this way” gag with the ghosts upside down and in the air. “Walk that way?!” he tells us. “If I do, I’d break a clavicle or sump’in.” One of the ghosts invites Snagglepuss to dinner and asks him to carve the chutney venison on his plate. Our hero launches into a version of “A rib or two will do” (to the theme of “A Hunting We Will Go”)—by the way, there’s a really bad music edit when the scene changes—and it turns out he’s carving the other ghost, who pops into visibility to complain then pops out again. (“Heavens to mint sauce!” exclaims Snagglepuss). Then the ghost offers Snagglepuss a hot buttered cider which is invisible. We hear a crash sound. Snagglepuss’ eyes turn to us. “I distinctively heard the tin-kle of breakin’ glass. (looks at his hand) And yet I saw no glass. (looks at audience) But I heard the tin-kle.” Snagglepuss still hasn’t figured out the castle is haunted.



Now the ghosts play some more head games. Scarum comes bounding in, saying “the king approach-eth” and looking for his enemy Sir Guy of Goon. Harum pretends to be the king. Scarum points to Snagglepuss, claiming he is Sir Guy of Goon. The king brings down his axe but Snagglepuss zooms out of the scene before he can be split in half. But he returns. “Say! What are you tryin’ to do? Part my hair down the middle all the way? Ruin the tourist trade? Cause an international inciden-n-n-n-nt? How about it if I went to 10 Downing Street and lodged a complaint? 11 Upping Street, even.” Snagglepuss returns wearing a helmet and carrying an axe, ready to fight. “Marquis of Queensbury Bridge rules, of course...Then let’s have at it. Odds fish, zounds, and all that King Arthur jazzarooni!” The “king” bashes Snagglepuss on the head.



The “n-n-n-n-nt” Daws uses, by the way, is borrowed from vaudeville comedian Benny Rubin. I’m sure others did it as well.

Snagglepuss rushes outside to safety. But, no, Harum and Scarum pop into the scene. “Heaves to Houdini!” How could they do that, enquires our hero. They explain they’re ghosts. Snagglepuss shows that he has spent some time watching Casper cartoons as he exclaims “G-g-g-ghosts?” Snagglepuss runs off, but not before some mismatched shots. These are consecutive frames. There isn’t even a wooden door in the second frame, let alone Snagglepuss’ hands against it.



“Exit, screamin’ in terror, stage right!” Snagglepuss jumps in the ocean he emerged from at the start of the cartoon and starts swimming as the iris closes.

We mentioned before about mismatched shots. There are other examples. Here is one. This is a pair of consecutive frames.



Neenah Maxwell is the background artist. We’ve posted her work from the cartoon before on the blog, but here are some of the frames.



Daws Butler has fun with “Worcestershire” as Snagglepuss, while he gives Harum a kind of Ed Wynn voice he used for Wally Gator. Don Messick’s laugh for Scarum evokes a certain cartoon great dane of later years.

6 comments:

  1. There's a wee voice flub as well. At one point (bit with the axe) Scarum speaks in Harum's voice.

    I wonder if the chap on the boat is a relative of the Major's?

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  2. Re the last part Yowp wrote-"a certain cartoon great dane"-who would be doing ghost chasing of his own.(And of course Elliott field in Real Gone Ghosts used a Ed Wynn voice, or maybe that was also Butler).SteveC

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  3. Liked the window shade bit, too. But the plot of the cartoon has too much of a vibe of "Huck's Hack" in it, in having a character play stupider than he should in order to advance the story (something even Maltese and Foster occasionally ran into with Bugs at Warners -- it might not totally derail the cartoon, but it does leave you not totally satisfied, because the main character is forced to act slightly out of character to make the story work).

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  4. The scene of Snag lifting the axe over his head features some very awkward-looking animation. Surprised his arms didn't snap off.

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  5. This comment has been removed by the author.

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  6. Are you going to review any of the Hokey Wolf cartoons?

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