Saturday, 21 November 2009

Quick Draw McGraw — Cattle Battle Rattled

Produced and Directed by Bill Hanna and Joe Barbera.
Animation: Dick Lundy; Layouts – Ed Benedict; Backgrounds - Joe Montell; Story – Mike Maltese; Story Sketches – Dan Gordon; Title – Art Goble; Production Supervisor – Howard Hanson (no credits available).
Cast: Wife, Cowboy, Quick Draw, Baba Looey, Cattlemen’s Assn. Head, Snuffles – Daws Butler; Narrator, Husband, Phantom Rustler, cows – Hal Smith.
Released: November 30, 1959 (Los Angeles).
Plot: Quick Draw and his occasionally faithful dog Snuffles try to bring the Phantom Rustler to justice.

Take something familiar and exaggerate it to the point of absurdity. Laughs will generally follow. And maybe that’s why Snuffles in the Quick Draw McGraw cartoons is so memorable, despite not appearing all that often (reruns excepted). Everyone knows dogs love dog biscuits and even the prospect of one gets them hyper. Mike Maltese took this fact to a ridiculous extreme.

In fact, Maltese uses the idea as a running gag in Snuffles’ second appearance, Cattle Battle Rattled. That could get tiresome in the hands of a lesser writer, but Maltese embroiders the cartoon with other silliness and stupidity. Combine that with some fun layouts and poses and you get an entertaining seven minutes.

There are no credits on this cartoon, so someone is going to have to help me here. The animator’s one of the three H-B added to its staff in 1959—Dick Lundy, Don Patterson or George Nicholas, all ex-Disney types. The BCDB says it’s Lundy. I can’t tell. Here’s where experts can help us all learn by telling how they can tell who is animating this one. The layouts I can guess at.

The first great layout comes right at the beginning. Any fan of 1950s design will like the wife who is serving a scoop of brown mush to her husband, as the narrator intones “At the turn of the century, the beef-hungry north wanted cattle.” The angry husband objects. “Something’d better be done about us beef-hungry northerners!” he cries, raising his fork into the air in declaration.

“And so the cattle drive was started.” We get a cowboy with a similar nose-eye-ear design to what Ed Benedict came up with Hustler Rustler Huck. The cowboy orders his animals to ford a river. So the cows dive in. We only see two of them but the drawings are really funny. I like how the second cow plugs his nose.

Ah, but a pan to the left reveals the villain of the piece, The Phantom Rustler.

Maltese loved having the narrator carrying on conversations with the on-screen characters in Quick Draw cartoons. And he did it right away in this one with an old vaudeville gag that George Burns and Gracie Allen used as a signature. “Say hello to the folks, Phantom,” requests the narrator. So the rustler turns to the camera and repeats the words verbatim. Then he orders the cattle to “stick ‘em up” and we get another fun drawing of the cows.

The shot dissolves to Quick Draw and Baba Looey in the Cattlemen’s Association building. The head of the group points to a map showing where the rustler will strike again. “He must be stopped. Can you do it, Quick Draw?” Quick Draw is so stupid, he looks behind him and says “All right, Quick Draw, speak up. Can you do it?” “Psst, Quick Draw. I think he means you,” Baba suggests. Quick Draw agrees to take on the job and introduces the star of the cartoon.

I really love the drawings of Snuffles in this one; they’re better than what Ken Muse came with in the first cartoon. Look at his dopey expression when Quick Draw calls and then the enthusiasm when told a dog biscuit awaits.

Everyone who knows these cartoons knows how Snuffles hugs himself in ecstasy after eating a biscuit, springs into the air and floats down. But the animator adds a few big-eyed drawings. Then Snuffles bicycles with his feet when rising into the air, and descends in a different position that when he rises. And when he finally lands, he stretches out using five different drawings. The beady eyes and wavy mouth remind me more of Nicholas than Lundy.

So off they go on the trail of the rustler. His hideout shack is sniffed out by Snuffles, who gets another dog biscuit before pointing it out to Quick Draw. The ecstasy animation gets re-used here, to the ecstasy of the Hanna-Barbera accountant.

Quick Draw decides to use his “old noodle” to capture the rustler, after warning Baba “Now don’t you start thinnin’ around here.” So our hero puts on a pair of cow horns to “make like a juicy T-bone steak” and begins lamely moo-ing outside the rustler’s open door. However, the rustler is prepared with a Hanna-Barbera branding iron. We don’t see Quick Draw’s immediate reaction; instead the director cuts to Quick Draw flying with smoke trailing from his butt. “That’s using the old noodle?” Baba asks the audience.

Our hero orders Snuffles to get snarrrlling (Daws stretches the “ar”) to “flush out that rustling varmint.” We get a repeat of the first part of the ecstasy animation but before Snuffles can bicycle into the air, Quick Draw demands some action. But, no, Snuffles wants yet another biscuit. “Uh uh. Get a goin’!” orders Quick Draw. Snuffles begins angrily muttering, like Muttley and other dogs in Hanna-Barbera’s future.

Snuffles zooms inside and barks at the rustler, all right. But the bandit is prepared with his own dog biscuit, in a very abrupt cut going from a frame where Snuffles is growling to one where he is sitting silently looking up as the rustler holds the treat in the air. Before giving it he demands a favour, which he whispers in Snuffles’ ear. “I have a feelin’ Snuffles is behind me all the way,” Quick Draw. You know what’s going to happen next. After, a quick cycle of two drawings to show the pain, the shot cuts to Snuffles with his teeth in our hero’s posterior. The take has been slowed down a bit.

The dog rushes back to collect his reward. Since we’ve seen the ecstasy animation 2½ times, we get a cutaway reaction shot of the rustler (who does little more than blink to save more new drawings). “I wonder what he sees in those things?” the rustler asks himself and decides to find out. We get a funny little sequence here with the rustler copying Snuffles poses, except the bicycling feet is replaced by thrusting feet.

“Stick ‘em up, Phantom Rustler. You’re under arrest!” the armed Quick Draw orders. “Who cares?” sighs the bad guy. “And so the Phantom Rustler was jailed, never to rustle again,” intones the narrator, as we get a shot of both the rustler and Snuffles in jail, begging for biscuits. I can only presume Snuffles is there on an assault charge.

“I wonder what they see in them dog biscuits?” Quick Draw puzzles. So he tries one. And nothing happens. So he strolls back into the sheriff’s office and slams the door. But Quick Draw shows he’s just a little slow. We get five seconds of a shot of the building with Quick Draw making his own Snuffles-like noises, again saving a whole bunch of work for the cameraman. The shot pans over to a window where a sliding cell of Quick Draw floating down. And, like in a bunch of Maltese-written H-B cartoons, a character turns to the camera to give the closing line. “I theen Quickstraw is not only brave, he’s also bashful,” Baba tells us.

Someone has asked why Snuffles wasn’t given his own series. It’s a question that’s certainly debateable. On one hand, he had more personality than Precious Pupp, who inherited Snuffles’ “ratzin’-fratzin’” under-the-breath complaining. But, on the other, the dog-biscuit orgasm may have worn out its welcome every week. It was probably smarter for Hanna-Barbera to use him judiciously in a few cartoons. And he was never animated better than he was in this one.

A lot of Jack Shaindlin’s Langlois Filmusic library seems to have been used in this cartoon. As I don’t have copies of most of the music, I can’t identify it. There’s a harmonica version of Oh, Susannah which could be from the Sam Fox Variety library. SF-11 is a Sam Fox cue that was in the Hi-Q library. Hi-Q stripped off the original name and composer, who is J. Louis Merkur.

As for the harp music when Snuffles descends, it’s not in the harp cues in Hi-Q reel L-39 that I can hear, so it may be in one of the Hi-Q ‘S’ series reels.

0:00 - Quick Draw sub-title theme (Curtin).
0:16 - tick-tock/flute music (Shaindlin) – Wife serves husband goop.
0:28 - OH SUSANNAH (trad.) – Cattle drive scene.
1:01 - GR-472 HICKSVILLE (Phil Green) – Quick Draw asked to find rustler, accepts.
1:41 - unknown jig (?) – Quick Draw calls Snuffles, Snuffles eats biscuit.
2:12 - CRAZY GOOF (Shaindlin) – Snuffles snuffs out rustler’s cabin; eats another biscuit, Quick Draw puts on horns.
3:32 - circus running music (Shaindlin) – Quick Draw moos, flies after being branded.
3:50 - CRAZY GOOF (Shaindlin) – Snuffles gets another biscuit, barks at rustler, rustler hold biscuit.
4:40 - GR-96 BY JIMINY! IT’S JUMBO (Green) – Rustler makes offer to Snuffles.
4:47 - circus medium march (Shaindlin) – Quick Draw chomped.
5:15 - SF-11 LIGHT MOVEMENT/MOUNTAINEERS' HOEDOWN (Merkur) – Rustler gives biscuit to Snuffles; has one himself.
5:47 - tick-tock/flute music (Shaindlin) – Jail scene, Quick Draw eats biscuit.
6:47 - Quick Draw sub end title theme (Curtin).


  1. FYI I think Hicksville is GR-742, not 472.

    And I forget: were they just using a generic box of dog biscuits here, or had they already started using the sponsored Gro-Pup T-bone brand on the box?

  2. I remember see this like the last cartoon from a 1995-96 local compilation we having. And yeah, this one is a real classic thanks to Michael Maltese who was able to writing a limited animation cartoon with good sense.

  3. Joecab, Quick Draw didn't start using Gro-Pup until Bronco Busting Boobs. And 'Hicksville' is GR-472, and follows 'GR-471 Highland Mist' on EMI disc Q6-017. Blame sloppy proof-reading and cutting and pasting for saying otherwise; I think I've fixed it.
    Steve, yes, that's the same cue as in the Captain Zoom Zoom cartoon. I don't know what it's called since I don't have it. It was used in TV commercials at one time. And if something is "obviously" there's no reason to state it unless making a point about something.
    Martin, what's great about Maltese is he simply upped the silly quotient because he didn't have the great work of Jones and his animators backing him up at HB.

  4. Thanks Yowp, and sorry about my mistake. In retrospect I should have questioned that high number. This site is a great resource.

  5. Dick Lundy is probably right on. His animation had Lew Marshall like 'Head bobbing', and an occasional lack of Eye bags. It's not Nick or Patt.

  6. joecab, Green wrote an awful lot of cues but not having the full Photoplay catalogue, I don't know how high the GR numbers got. They were on 45s, and there were usually six cues to a disc.
    Zartok, Chris at the BCDB Forum explained Nick never had a slit on the upside of the tongue and these do, so that lets him out. I haven't been able to pick up a key to Patterson's style on the HB shorts. If John K comes by again he can probably fill us in. He can also tell the background guys apart by what they used to construct the BGs but I'm inept at that.

  7. I liked that fact that around this time H-B started to use one of my favorite actors/voice actors; Hal Smith. The man worked steadily in televison, movies, cartoons, commercials, and even radio's " Adventures in Odyssey " all the way til his passing in Jauary 1994.

  8. Another mystery, Errol, is why Joe and Bill expanded (and contracted) their voice roster at this time. Maybe they had more money to play with. Regardless, when the 1959-60 TV season rolled around, Jerry Hausner, Vance Colvig, Peter Leeds, Hal Smith, Jean Vander Pyl and Julie Bennett all started popping up. Hausner's and Leeds' stays were brief, while Colvig did one Quick Draw cartoon then disappeared for a full year.
    The male actors seem to have taken the place of Don Messick who, for a while, doesn't seem to be doing any voices other than in the Yogi shorts.
    I remember when Hal Smith died, it made the wire services, which was a nice bit of recognition. The stories talked up his role as Otis, because that was his big one (the PC police would kill the idea of a "town drunk" on TV today) but I do recall mention of his cartoon work. I'll have to see if I can dredge up his obit and post it one of these days. If I were to pick a favourite HB role of his, the first one that comes to mind is the king in the Yippee, etc. cartoons.

  9. Yowp, on town drunk---he was in the Mayberry, North Carolina jail, thanks to good ol' Andy Taylor--who is NOT Huck Hound's voice influence.

    Good point, Errol about the casting. The different voice actors [as well as Red Coffey as a certain pity-inducing little duck] happened a lot more on Quick Draw.

  10. Dodsworth,

    The art of Ed Benedict remains superb (and funny, too!) on this Quick Draw McGraw episode.
    Ah, we cannot forget that the backgrounds from this episode were made by Art Lozzi, right?

  11. Hi, Rod .. here's where you can help us all by telling us what things to look for to know that Art did the background in this one.
    The desert floor is very similar to the first Snuffles cartoon, Bow Wow Bandit, which is also uncreditted.

  12. Dodsworth,

    Don Patterson also worked on Universal/Walter Lantz. He even animated various shorts directed by Tex Avery, during the passage of this legendary director on Universal/Lantz.

  13. Lundy was at Lantz, too, as you well know. I didn't want to clutter the post with a pile of extraneous tangents.
    What is it that tells you that Art Lozzi did the backgrounds in this?

  14. Dodsworth,

    This burning iron is a trademark of Hanna-Barbera.