Saturday, 18 July 2009

Augie Doggie — Snagglepuss

Produced and Directed by Bill Hanna and Joe Barbera.
Credits: Animation – Carlo Vinci, Layout – Walter Clinton, Backgrounds – Bob Gentle, Story – Mike Maltese, Story Sketches – Dan Gordon, Titles – Art Goble, Production Supervision – Howard Hanson.
Cast: Snagglepuss, Augie – Daws Butler; Doggy Daddy – Doug Young.
Released: February 20, 1960.
Plot: Snagglepuss parks himself in Augie and Doggie Daddy’s home to avoid being hunted. Daddy tries to get the orange mountain lion outside to be able to shoot him.

There are two kinds of funny cartoons. There’s the kind where something completely unexpected and outrageous happens, like in every great Tex Avery cartoon. Then there’s the kind where which features routines, familiar as the proverbial old shoe, with just enough of a twist to be different or interesting so someone doesn’t go “Not that old gag!”

This cartoon falls into the latter category. Mike Maltese, my personal favourite of cartoon writers, borrowed—really borrowed—from his days in the Chuck Jones unit at Warners to come up with gags for this one. Witness this exchange between Snagglepuss and Doggy Daddy, attempting to remove the pre-pink version of the mountain lion in a rigged armchair.

Daddy: You take it.
Snag: You take it.
Daddy: After you.
Snag: No, after you. I’ll take it.
Daddy: I’ll take it.
Snag: No, I’ll take it.
Daddy (annoyed): Whose house is this anyway? I’ll take it.

All we’re missing is Doggy Daddy saying “Pronoun trouble” after getting in the chair and inevitably being bashed.

(If you need me to explain the reference, you really shouldn’t be on an old animation blog).

And like in the pronoun-troubled Rabbit Seasoning with Daffy, Bugs and Elmer Fudd, Doggy Daddy tries the routine again—and once again comes out a loser because Snagglepuss is a few steps ahead of him.

But here’s the difference between a Hanna-Barbera cartoon and a Warner’s theatrical short (besides the superior artwork of the Jones unit). After the dialogue in Rabbit Seasoning, Daffy Duck is instantly shot by Elmer Fudd and stands in a typical Jones-designed pose. In this one, we have to wait through words and a telegraphed set-up. Doggy Daddy yells “Help, Augie.” We see a moving truck. Daddy says “Oh no!” Then the truck hits. We knew it was going to hit. That spoils it a bit.

H-B cartoons were havens of unnecessary words. After the dialogue between Snagglepuss and Doggy Daddy, nothing else need be said. The gag would have been better if Maltese had avoided any padding and simply saw fit to have Daddy and the chair zoom out the door, then roar down the street for a couple of seconds before they unexpectedly hit something.

But we do get necessary words, too. Ones put into the mouth of the title character, which always provide a lot of fun. Snagglepuss pokes his head out of his cave and happily starts exclaiming things to himself in his soon-to-be-familiar style. Then he spots an artist with a palette, who could be a bit of a caricature of animator Carlo Vinci, as he had dark hair, a distinctive nose and a small moustache back then. Maltese then comes up with an unexpected juxtaposed line when Snagglepuss asks the artist, while still really talking to himself, “Will it make you shoulder if I look over your nervous?”

The theatrical cat goes to investigate the “painting” and discovers it’s—Heavens to Murgatroyd!—a sign that says ‘Hunting Season Opens Today’ (can someone explain why H-B characters insist on reading every sign or newspaper headline that viewer can see on their own?). Then a whole bunch of long-snouted rifles emerge from the trees and begin firing.

Snagglepuss exits stage left in one of those angular Vinci run-cycles where the character leads with his feet. He seeks refuge in a very two-dimensional house where we find Augie Doggy and Doggy Daddy (each wearing cute little red caps) about to embark on a hunting trip.

Daddy starts firing, but Snagglepuss demands a halt to the bullets, cagily explaining hunting season signs are outside “then, it follows like night the day” that hunting is not allowed inside, “to wit, to woo.” The lion then settles down on a decorative chesterfield and decides to “take a little nap, and smoothen out the wrinkled lines of care,” as Maltese paraphrases (who else?) the Bard’s line in MacBeth: “Sleep knits up the ravelled sleeve of care.”

The rest of the cartoon sees Doggy Daddy trying to trick the performance-prone puss into going outside so he can shoot him. First, Daddy tries a smudge pot. But Snagglepuss is ready, though he aims his firehose directly at Doggy Daddy instead of the smokey vessel.

Next, Doggy Daddy ties an inner tube to a tree, then attaches the other end to a chair wherein Snagglepuss is reading a book. But, again, the cat sees what’s afoot and nails the chair to the floor. Then, more dialogue:

Daddy: So long, Mr. Lion.
Snag: Why? Are you goin’ out?
Daddy: No. You are.
Snag: I are?
Daddy (looking at chair): Hmm. I guess you aren’t.

Daddy decides to go to the door to investigate, at which point the tree is uprooted by the force of the stationary chair and crashes into the luckless dog.

Now comes the gag series where Daddy builds a “super-jet armchair” designed to whoosh Snagglepuss out of the house. The brings up the aforementioned ‘pronoun trouble’ bit during which Carlo continues, as he has in much of the cartoon, to have Snagglepuss crook his fingers in different directions. The second time, the gag works better, as Daddy turns to the audience and remarks how “there’s no truck this time” and suddenly whams into a tree.

Maltese gets in a “this is really a cartoon, folks” line in here, as Snagglepuss looks at a picture portfolio belonging to Doggy Daddy, and remarking “How droll! I thought this old family album was a comic book.” While the cat is laughing, Daddy rigs a hydraulic lift to the house, which raises it off the foundation, and into the sky. That puts Snagglepuss “smack in the middle of the great outdoors” and ripe for hunting.

Daddy fires some shots to scare away the cat, but then tells Augie he’s too tired to go hunting and all he wants to do “is sit down in a nice, comfy chair.” Unfortunately, it’s the rocket chair, which takes off down the street, where he bangs into a hitch-hiking Snagglepuss, who requests to be dropped off at the (and you saw this coming) Lions Club. They pass the same mailbox and directional arrow 12 times before Doggie Daddy looks at the camera and remarks “All I can say is: ‘Heavens to Murgatroyd!’” (which is heard three times in the cartoon).

We get a couple of my favourite Phil Green music beds here—Bush Baby and what I think is part of Big City Suite No. 2. I’ve listed the latter under the Capitol Hi-Q name; the rest of the Green titles come from the original EMI 45s. There’s a skippy piece of music featuring an electric guitar that got a fair amount of play in the Augie cartoons. Animation historian Ray Pointer identified it as ‘The Happy Cobbler’ by Hermann (Hecky) Krasnow, aka Lee Herschel, aka Steve Mann. Krasnow wrote ‘The Whistling Walk’ and 12 other pieces for the Sam Fox ‘Variety’ library, some of which ended up re-released in the Hi-Q series.

Jack Shaindlin wrote three 30-second-or-so beds for Langlois Filmusic called ‘Mad Rush’. They were generally heard in Snooper and Blabber cartoons, but two are in this one.

If anyone has ‘The Happy Cobbler’ and could send it to me, I’d be really greatful. You can click on the names of the Phil’s cuts in green (how appropriate) to hear them.

0:00 – Augie Doggie main title theme (Hanna-Barbera-Curtin)
0:25 – GR-65 BUSH BABY (Green) – Snagglepuss peers at hunting sign; runs from hunters.
1:16 – GR-256 TOYLAND BURGLAR (Green) – Snagglepuss decides to hide; Augie and Daddy get set to go hunting.
1:50 – LFU 117-2 MAD RUSH #2 (Shaindlin) – Snagglepuss bursts into Augie’s home.
1:58 – GR 154 COUNTRY OR GARDEN SCENE (Green) – Snagglepuss snoozes; uses fire hose on Daddy
3:31 – GR 258 THE TIN DRAGOONS (Green) – Daddy hooks inner tube to chair.
4:08 – SF ? THE HAPPY COBBLER (Krasnow) - Tree hits daddy.
4:27 – GR-65 BUSH BABY (Green) – Daddy moves rocket chair into home; pronoun trouble.
5:16 – LFU 117-3 MAD RUSH #3 (Shaindlin) – Daddy and chair hit by moving van; more pronoun trouble.
5:46 – LFU 117-2 MAD RUSH #2 (Shaindlin) – Daddy and chair zoom into tree.
5:56 – EM-107D LIGHT ACTIVITY (Green) – Daddy lifts house off support, shoots at Snagglepuss, sits in rocket chair and takes off.
6:57 – LAF-2-12 ON THE RUN (Shaindlin) – Chair and Daddy pick up Snagglepuss on street.
7:09 – Augie Doggie end title theme (Hanna-Barbera-Curtin)


  1. Nice to see one of the Quick Draw trilogy's shorts included. And to see you got more information [inn-forrmation as that robotic martian in "Space Bear" w/Yogi might say it] on the titles on some of the Jack Shaindlin chases, in Quick Draw/Snooper/Augie shorts, one of which themes was used in that Yogi short Space bear that I just quoted. :) And also that you got one of the Hi-Q titles for the Phil Green Big City themes.

    Always loved that theme "The Happy Cobbler" myself [Hecky Krasnow]. "The Whistling Walk" by him is obviously that theme on "Yuk Yuk Duck" when that uh, duckling first shows up [also in "Mars Little precious" a few times when that little martian Boinga Boinga keeps walking on the ceiling, interrupted only by "Come & Get Me" [Emil Cadkin-Harry Bluestone] and in "A Peck of Trouble" when Doggie Daddy sees a fly walking back and forth].

    On H.Krasnow's pen name Steve Mann, I found that name on Carlin which would've had that "Sam Fox Library" stuff, but it sounds different than what I would expect, in short, no "cartoonish" stuff [and was cowritten with some other guy besides.]

    No searches in Carlin site* for Lee Herschel r Krasnow under his normal name come up [*PLAY PRODUCTION MUSIC site and]

    Great to see another entry in the blog.

  2. It's the first cartoon i seen with Augie and Augie Doggy. I love this Snagglepuss prototype before he's have his own series in Yogi Bear Show's part.

  3. I'd like to do more Augies (I've started on one) but their commercial unavailability hinders it. You can seen how contrasty the screen caps are here. And that damned bug gets in the way.

    There's also the fact I don't know the titles of some of the music outside the Green material.

    The Snagglepuss prototype is funnier in the Quick Draw cartoon I did earlier on but I think the "unwelcome, imposing guest" type of character really works well, too.