Saturday 23 May 2009

Quick Draw McGraw — Lamb Chopped

Produced and Directed by Bill Hanna and Joe Barbera.
Credits: Animation – Ken Muse; Layout – Ed Benedict; Backgrounds – Robert Gentle; Story – Mike Maltese; Story Sketches – Dan Gordon; Titles – Art Goble; Production Supervision – Howard Hanson.
Cast: Quick Draw, Baba Looey, Sheep Herders’ President, Snagglepuss, three Sheep, French Mountain Goat – Daws Butler.
First aired: week of September 28, 1959.
Plot: Quick Draw accepts job to catch sheep-rustling mountain lion Snagglepuss. He ends up running from an amorous mountain goat.

Turning a character into a hero changes him. Look at Mickey Mouse. Who can deny he was insolent and, therefore, funny in his earliest days when he made Walt Disney famous, only to become bland and restricted by the mid 1930s?

The same thing happened with Snagglepuss. Before he was given his own series, he was a somewhat aggressive villain in several cartoons, mainly against Quick Draw McGraw. He’s in complete control of every situation. Then he got his own show, and Mike Maltese played up the theatrical aspect and made him either a victim of circumstance, or paired him with Major Minor, occasionally giving them dialogue inspired by vaudeville acts which Maltese loved. As well, Daws Butler toned down his Cowardly Lion-esque voice a bit. The pre-series Snagglepuss still had Bert Lahr’s vibrato, where vowels would sound like a recalcitrant car engine trying to start. There was a lot less of that when the cat got his own show. He was still funny, but the personality wasn’t quite the same as before.

This is Snagglepuss’s debut. He’s nude and orange but there’s enough of him that’s recognisable, especially in the voice and with Maltese’s dialogue. We get “To wit. Three wit, even!” “Forsooth! Five-sooth, even!” and, of course, “Heavens to Murgatroyd!” Surprisingly, the one famous line we don’t hear from him is “Exit, stage ____.”

Prior to the start of the cartoon, Quick Draw has heard the Sheep Herders Association, Inc., is offering a reward for the capture of Snagglepuss, for it opens with Quick Draw and Baba Looey on their way in a jeep to apply for the job. The head of the Association offers our hero $5,000 and a sheepskin coat. Baba’s sceptical but Quick Draw reminds him “I’ll do the thinnin’ around here.”

They drive to Sheep Country (a sign helpfully reveals they’ve reached their destination) and Baba spots a clump of sheep walking along. Naturally, Quick Draw says hello to the “sheepses” and notices nothing odd. It’s up to Baba to spot the lion tracks so Quick Draw can put two-and-two together and use his rifle on Snagglepuss.

Maltese would dredge up—I’m being polite—ideas that he used when he worked in Chuck Jones’ unit at Warners, and he does it three times in this cartoon. First, he borrows from Rabbit Fire when Snagglepuss tells Quick Draw he can’t shoot a lion with an elepha-nn-t gun. Unlike Rabbit Fire, a Joe Besser elephant doesn’t show up (though Besser-like characters appeared in other H-B cartoons that year), but Snagglepuss reveals he has no qualms about the type of weapon he uses, grabs the gun, and Blam!

Next, Quick Draw lays a lion trap in a hole but Snagglepuss is watching from behind a rock. He uses the old burst-an-airfilled-paper-bag trick to scare Quick Draw into the trap, as he borrows from Robin Hood Daffy and yells “Yoiks and away!” Baba has to remind Quick Draw to shout his usual “Ooch! Ouch! Ouch!”

Our heroes follow Snagglepuss’s tracks and come across the mountain lion in front of a cave. Ah, but Quick Draw is informed (as he does nothing but blink for seven seconds in some easy footage) he is really looking for “my scape-grace twin brother, Snaggletooth” in a silly piece of erstwhile Elizabethan stage-inspired dramatic dialogue that Maltese liked trotting out occasionally (Rabbit Hood is a good example). Snagglepuss tricks Quick Draw into giving him his gun to track down the bounder who, of course, really doesn’t exist, and we can guess what happens next.

Baba is now forced into dressing up a lamb to act as a prey. It works temporarily. Quick Draw shoots Snagglepuss in the butt (the animation shows him screaming in pain but the soundtrack is silent) but the cat runs away. That leaves Quick Draw only one choice—he disguises himself as a king-size sheep and engages in some “dee-licious ba-bas”, telling Baba to shoot when Snagglepuss snatches.

But the plan backfires. Maltese’s climax gag is merely warmed-over Pepé Le Pew. A French-accented mountain goat rushes into the scene and begins to woo him with dialogue that’s a lot less creative than what Maltese used to put in the mouth of Le Warnaire’s Skunk Français. When the goat actually kisses Quick Draw, Baba shoots him, and Quick Draw is able to run away. And, in typical cartoon convention, the goat mistakes the shooting for some kind of super-kiss, and starts chasing the horse (instead of Pepé’s “Wait for baby!”, we get “Wait, baby girl!”).

Quick Draw yells for help. In the final gag, Snagglepuss smugly cruises past him in Quick Draw’s own jeep and informs the horse: “I would sure like to give you a lift, buster, but I’ve got a pressing dinner engagement. At the Lamb’s Club.” The joke works on two levels, though Maltese may not have intended it that way. Of course, there’s the fact Snagglepuss has been after a sheep dinner through the whole cartoon. But it would be entirely appropriate a theatrical type like Snagglepuss would belong to the real-life Lamb’s Club, an organisation open to stage and vaudeville folk. It’s still around and you can read about it here.

My apologies for the contrast-y screen grabs and the annoying station bug. These who-knows-how-many-generation recordings off cable TV are all I’ve got. I can only hope the full Quick Draw series will be remastered and released because it’s still my favourite of the H-B TV shorts.

An ad in the Los Angeles Times and a review in Variety reveal this was the first Quick Draw cartoon to air.

Unlike the majority of Quick Draws before Hoyt Curtin’s stock library was used, there is no music from Jack Shaindlin here. All the material apparently came from Phil Green’s EMI Photoplay library which was picked up by Capitol. There’s one melody I can’t identify, but the arrangement could very well be Green’s. Most of these beds got a good workout for a couple of years by Hanna-Barbera; Custard Pie Capers is used at the end of quite a few Quick Draw and Snooper and Blabber cartoons.

0:00 - Quick Draw sub main title theme (Hanna-Barbera-Curtin).
0:24 - GR-80 FRED KARNO’S ARMY (Green) – Quick Draw accepts job.
1:34 - GR-93 DRESSED TO KILL (Green) – Baba spots Snagglepuss carrying sheep; Quick Draw shoots him; Snagglepuss takes Quick Draw’s gun and shoots him.
2:46 – GR-453 THE ARTFUL DODGER (Green) – Quick Draw plants lion trap.
3:29 - GR 76 POPCORN Bridge 2 (Green) – Snagglepuss blows into paper bag.
3:38 - GR-456 DOCTOR QUACK (Green) – Quick Draw caught in lion trap; “Twin brother” bit; Snagglepuss shoots Quick Draw again.
4:53 - GR-472 HICKSVILLE (Green) – Baba dresses as sheep; Quick Draw dresses as sheep.
6:15 - violin, harp and horn romantic music (?) – Mountain Goat romances Quick Draw.
6:45 - GR-77 CUSTARD PIE CAPERS (Green) – Quick Draw runs from Mountain Goat; Snagglepuss refuses to give him a ride.
7:08 - Quick Draw sub end title theme (Hanna-Barbera-Curtin).


  1. That unnamed music was used a lot ["Nutts over Mutts" with all horn arrangement with Huck, second season, Jay Ward's "Ugly Duckling"], and "Car 54, Where Are You!" and Augie and Doggie Daddy's "Yuk Yuk Duck" [the cutesy little duckling's "Did you ever see a duck...[fill in the blank]'s a terrible sight"! music. I think that the bed was used in a Reese's candy bar ad spoofing soap operas once [the ad was for "Peanut Butter and No Jelly"], and I think Friz Freleng used it on his Pink Panther with the Ritts Puppets ["better Business Bureau" ads later] show once in 1972 [when it was live hosted.] Great tear-jerker music_ :) [I had tried to post before but it didn't register. ] And you're right--the music cues were [at least the others] all by Phil, Green. If this had been a Pepe cartoon the violin music would be "La Vie En Rose' or "L'Amour Toujours L'Amour"..:)

  2. Steve, that's the same music that's in Lend Lease Meece when the pathetic white mouse enters, right? That's got some great Carlo Vinci poses, by the way.
    Judging by the orchestration, it doesn't sound like Shaindlin. My guess is it's Green.

  3. Yes, it is the same cue.:) "In the Picnic of T9me" used it [the all horn rendition used in "Nutts over Mutts". Definitely a favorite.

    Only time I've heard it used i GUMBY was right after the open music , "How not to trap lions", under Gumby diagnosing the short lived "third member of the party"[with Pokey] "Richard the firendly Lion"s blue in the face case as loneliest. And you're right, it doesn't sound at all like a Shaindlin but a Green piece. Of course it wasn't used till the second season when Philip Green's music was pickled up..

  4. Too bad the cartoon doesn't have a caricature of Shari Lewis, for the title is a play on the name of her sock puppet.


  5. If that mountain goat acts like Pepe Le Pew, so, the sheep-disguised Quick Draw acts like Penelope (that female black cat who's confused as a skunk).
    Michael Maltese's stuff...

  6. Imagine if this Quick Draw McGraw episode had the Carl Stalling's music score...

  7. This is also the Only snaglepuss appearance animated by Kenneth Muse.

    Asim M Ishak.

  8. This Quick Draw McGraw and some other ones: "Six-Gun Spook," "EL Kabong Strikes Again," "Slick City Slicker," "Gun Shy Gal", "Talky Hawky," "El Kabong Was Wrong," "Dynamite Fright" and "The Mark Of El Kabong" are the only ones I've seen with credits on them. "El Kabong Was Wrong" and "The Mark Of El Kabong" are ones with Hoyt Curtin music cues.