Saturday, 19 June 2010

Quick Draw McGraw — Scary Prairie

Produced and Directed by Bill Hanna and Joe Barbera.
Animation – Carlo Vinci; Story – Mike Maltese; Story Sketches - Dan Gordon; Titles – Art Goble; Production Supervision – Howard Hanson. (no credits).
Voice cast: Narrator, 1st Man, 3rd Man, Grumble-Weed, Bank Teller – Elliot Field; 2nd Man, Quick Draw, Baba Looey – Daws Butler.
Production J-1, Episode M-006.
First Aired: week of November 2, 1959.
Plot: Quick Draw McGraw goes after bank robber Grumble-Weed.

“I’m going to clean up this one-horse town!” Whoever first uttered this immortal phrase is perhaps lost to the ages, but animation history steadfastly reveals it was the declaration of one Daffy Duck in the Warners cartoon ‘Drip-Along Daffy’ (1951), written by Mike Maltese. And, in the end, the non-victorious Daffy uses a broom to do so.

And so it is the declaration of Quick Draw McGraw in this cartoon, written by Mike Maltese. And, in the end, the non-victorious Quick Draw... well, you can figure it out.

It seems inevitable Maltese would be assigned to write the Quick Draw McGraw series when he arrived at Hanna-Barbera from Warners. While he was there, he came up Yosemite Sam for Friz Freleng and showed his ear for parodying old movie western dialogue in one of Bugs Bunny’s best outings, ‘Bugs Bunny Rides Again’ (1948). With 26 Quick Draw cartoons to create in a relatively short period of time, a little borrowing from his earlier outings was inevitable, too.

This is the first cartoon made in the Quick Draw series and Maltese has all the major elements in place—western clichés, klutzy hero, punny side commentary by the sidekick (borrowed from Porky’s role in the Jones-Maltese Daffy opuses), narrator and characters talking to each other. But the cartoon doesn’t rely on solely on chatter. It opens with a sight gag. “In the wild and woolly west of old,” intones the only-around-for-the-opening narrator, “new towns sprang up overnight.” The words are accompanied by a bunch of false-fronted buildings jumping up out of the dirt in long shot.

“And, in most western towns, the biggest challenge of all was: who’s the fastest gun alive.” The next scene has two guys insisting they’re the fastest gun alive and shooting each other dead. “Looks like a tie,” observes a bystander.

The narrator, bystander and the villain are all played by KFWB disc jockey Elliot Field, who appeared as Blabber in the first four Snooper cartoons. This is the only Quick Draw cartoon he appeared in. Hanna-Barbera hired jocks for other series in the ‘60s, including Gary Owens, Jerry Dexter and Casey Kasem (Mitzi McCall, on the “Pebbles and Bamm Bamm Show” was a morning radio co-host).

A pan across some wanted posters (including Horse-Face Harry, a name Maltese would borrow for future cartoons) ends with a shot of Quick Draw chatting away with the narrator.

Narrator: Uh, Mr. Quick Draw.
Quick Draw: Yuuuup? It’s not much of a line, but it’s the way I read it.
Narrator: Show us your famous quick draw, Quick Draw.

And he does. He tosses a tin can in the air with results we quickly come to expect.

Quick Draw: Shucks. I had the bullet in backwards. Huh. (tin can falls and sproings off his nose).

Baba Looey thins they should go back to “herding sheeps.” Quick Draw hasn’t quite developed “I’ll do the thinnin’ around here” yet; we get “I don’t thin’ so” and the one-horse town clean-up pledge.

Maltese uses a gag like we saw in ‘Drip-Along Daffy’ with a gag wanted poster involving square dancing, which the camera focuses on for six animation-saving seconds. But Quick Draw’s eye caught another poster, which we see motionless for 11 seconds as it’s read to us. Hmm. Doesn’t Grumble-Weed look the same as Dog-Face Dawson (above)?

The villain now pops into the scene, with appropriate menacing music. “Who’s a tenderfoot?” Quick Draw demands. Grumble-Weed skips the old Western cliché “Dance!” in giving the answer with his gun. We get typical silly Maltese dialogue.

Quick Draw (hopping on one foot off camera): Oh, ouch, ow, ooo, ow, ow!
Baba: What did you say?
Quick Draw (hopping on one foot across the scene): I said “Ooo, ouch, ow, ow, oh...”

The scene is interrupted by Grumble-Weed robbing the bank (though we never actually see it). “Isn’t that against the law?” Quick Draw asks. Now we get another old Western bit that Maltese used in ‘Bugs Bunny Rides Again.’ Grumble-Weed dares Quick Draw “to step across this line.” Of course, the bad guy keeps drawing lines until Quick Draw steps off a cliff. Despite the set-back, Quick Draw vows again to clean up the one-horse town.

Now Maltese pulls a Wile E. Coyote-esque gag by having Quick Draw drop a boulder from a cliff onto the bad guy. The difference is the Roadrunner never punched the coyote in the face, but that’s what Grumble-Weed does, thanks to a convenient teeter board which the boulder lands on, sending him into the air up the side of the cliff. “Pardon my glove,” he adds. He drops back on the teeter-board, which sends the rock up and crashing on Quick Draw.

Baba: What happened, Quicks Draw?
Quick Draw: How do I know? I just got here.

In the next scene, Grumble-Weed is sleeping next to the stolen bank money. Apparently, the Acme Corporation wasn’t around in the Old West, so Quick Draw resorts to a generic ‘William Tell Do It Yourself Kit’. He places an apple on the bad guy’s head with the idea he’ll shoot an arrow, but miss and hit Grumble-Weed. Instead, we get the predictable cartoon gag that Quick Draw shoots himself and not the arrow and lands inside a tree What’s a tree doing on the western plains anyway?

Next, Quick Draw rests some rifles in the limb (?) of a cactus to fire at Grumble-Weed. Naturally, the bad guy turns them around and Quick Draw shoots himself, ending up in the cactus for good measure.

It’s pretty well necessary that this cartoon parody the climax of a live-action western, so we get the inevitable ‘High Noon’-style showdown at ten paces (“I seen ‘em do this in a western movie once-st. The hero always wins,” Quick Draw confides). And this, being a cartoon, we also get the old gag of the two shooters taking the ten paces in same direction, unknown to the guy in front, who turns and gets the worst of it.

However, Quick Draw gives Grumble-Weed one more chance. The bad guy does the counting this time (“I seen that same movie) and follows Quick Draw with a cannon which he fires after our hero turns to face him.

Baba Looey now reminds us Quick Draw is a man of his word, and the final shot is of Quick Draw, sweeping with a broom, and therefore emulating Drip-Along Daffy as he cleans up the one-horse town.

For the most part, Quick Draw cartoons, and Maltese’s Snooper and Blabber cartoons, followed the same generally rule—the comic hero loses in the end. Actually, I find it more satisfying when something happens at the last minute after Quick Draw has beaten the villain so he doesn’t altogether win.

Someone at Hanna-Barbera seems to have decided that the nature of the Quick Draw cartoons called for different music than was being used on The Huckleberry Hound Show. While the Capitol Hi-Q library had several reels in the ‘D’ and ‘M’ series devoted to western themes (atmospheric and dramatic, as opposed to cowboy songs), the studio instead more suspenseful sounds found in Jack Shaindlin’s Langlois Filmusic library. Certainly those may have been used in ‘B’ or TV Westerns. These cartoons also featured melodies of Phil Green from the Hi-Q ‘L’ series. Still, there are a two Spencer Moore pieces used as effect music, like they were on Huck’s show, and Shaindlin’s familiar ‘Toboggan Run’ is also briefly heard, though it was soon weeded out of the list of Quick Draw cues.

0:00 - Quick Draw sub main title theme (Curtin).
0:14 - related to Excitement Under Dialogue (Shaindlin) – towns spring up, two guys shoot and kill each other.
0:37 - L-1158 ANIMATION COMEDY (Moore) – bassoon effect under “Looks like a tie.”
0:42 - L-81 COMEDY UNDERSCORE (Moore) – pan over ‘Wanted’ posters.
0:50 - GR-74 POPCORN (Green) – Quick Draw shoots himself, looks at looks at ‘Wanted’ posters.
1:59 - PG-161G LIGHT COMEDY MOVEMENT (Green) – “Green stamps” line.
2:14 - EXCITEMENT UNDER DIALOGUE (Shaindlin) – Grumble-Weed shows up, Quick Draw “ooch-ouches”; falls off cliff; drops boulder off cliff.
3:44 - TC-9 CHASE-HEAVY (Loose-Seely) – Grumble-Weed propelled in air, boulder lands on Quick Draw.
4:05 - GR-453 THE ARTFUL DODGER (Green) – Quick Draw shoots arrow.
4:42 - LAF-2-12 ON THE RUN (Shaindlin) – Grumble-Weed rides away.
4:52 - suspenseful string music (Shaindlin) – Rifles on cactus.
5:31 - GR-255 PUPPETRY COMEDY (Green) – Showdown gags, shot of Quick Draw sweeping.
6:49 - GR-77 CUSTARD PIE CAPERS (Green) – “I said I was going to clean up this one-horse town.”
6:59 - Quick Draw sub end title theme (Curtin).


  1. Of course, this cartoon ended without any variation of Porky's classic rejoinder to the "one-horse town" line. This would be a concession to the fact that the H-B TV cartoons are specifically meant for kids.

    Apparently mild bathroom humor was still permissible in theatrical cartoons in the early 1950s (if not to Cartoon Network censors in the 21st Century, who removed "Lucky for him, it IS a one-horse town") from their prints of DRIPALONG DAFFY.

  2. Interestingly, the next two Quick Draw cartoons- BAD GUYS DISGUISE and SCAT, SCOUT, SCAT- portray our hero as much less of a victim, if slightly more intelligent, or at least luckier. But in this, the nominal 'pilot', he takes the normal amount of abuse from bad guys and his own incompetence- as well as his backfiring weapons.

  3. "Yowp-Yowp" Dodsworth,

    This is the first (and anthologic, too) Quick Draw McGraw episode.
    It also brings the design made by Dick "Bick" Bickenbach.
    I've ended to re-watch this episode on YouTube (dubbed in Brazilian Portuguese).

  4. Howard, I personally like the way he's portrayed in those two cartoons. Also the one where his ma hawls him off for fibbin'.

    Rod, there are no credits on the Brazilian version on YouTube.

  5. Howard, this already was applying to Jones's "Mouse Warming" [Written by Maltese], I don't see why GAC Forum members like it so much, and the WB cartoons Bunny and Claude. Nostalgic references and music still found their way and it was a MUCH earlieer era, so Howad as you said, kids were being attracted by a LACK of anything contgroversial [try to find many of the cartoons for kids in the last thirty years being as innocent]. Finally, a lot of HB cartoons however WERE still Yowp's comment has said. But yeah, the Ruff and Reddys, the Squddilys would be eally kids cartoons.Chuck Jones would have loved these, as the awful Sniffles shorts he did shows.In short, you can't apply to the word fact to the audience foir any cartoons, but Yakky, and the Magillas [Ogee and that one beach partty like Making with the Magilla] certain;ly were just for that era's kids [too corny later ones!]

    Changing years..yeah, Shaindlin had lots of odd suyspenseful string cues...I haven't seen Scary Praire for a long long time..but as most know, CINEMUSIC [] has lots of those [INCLUDING Columbia's Screen Gems fanfare!] more than the familiar. Fans of the extremely popular online game [?] "Fallout Shelter" have a thing for some Shaindlin vocals, "Tickled Pink" & "Goin' Sunnin'". They are on the LATIN FUN DANCE MUSIC ones CINE[?]

  6. "Yowp-Yowp" Dodsworth,

    A small detail about the animator Carlo Vinci: besides being working on Terrytoons, MGM and Hanna-Barbera, Carlo Vinci also worked for Ralph Bakshi on the animated movie Fritz The Cat (1972), which was based on the Robert Crumb's underground comics.

  7. This comment has been removed by the author.