Saturday, 5 June 2010

Snooper and Blabber — Slippery Glass Slipper

Produced and Directed by Bill Hanna and Joe Barbera.
Credits: Animation – Lew Marshall; Layout – Bick Bickenbach; Backgrounds – Bob Gentle; Story – Mike Maltese; Story Director – Alex Lovy, Titles – Art Goble; Production Supervision – Howard Hanson.
Voice cast: Announcer, Messenger – Hal Smith; Snooper, Blabber, Prince, dog – Daws Butler; Wanda Wandwaver, Ugly Sister, Pretty Sister – Jean Vander Pyl.
First aired: December 22, 1959.
Plot: Snooper and Blabber try to track down the owner of a glass slipper with the help of a magic wand.

So, you’ve got to write something like 26 detective cartoons, in addition to about the same number of father-son sitcom spoofs and western parodies. What do you do? If you’re Mike Maltese, newly-arrived at Hanna-Barbera from Chuck Jones’ unit, you decide that animation will, like history, repeat itself. You dig out tried and true ideas from your career at Warner Bros., call in Dan Gordon and start working on a storyboard.

One of those ideas is fairy tales. You name it—The Three Bears, The Three Little Pigs, Snow White, there doesn’t seem to be any end to re-telling those beloved fables by plopping in your favourite cartoon character to screw around with them. Maltese did that thrice in the first season of Snooper and Blabber, first with Switch Witch (Hansel and Gretel), then with Fee-Fi-Fo-Fumble (Jack and the Beanstalk) and finally with Slippery Glass Slipper, the subject of which should be known to anyone age three and up (parents do read fairy tales to their youngsters these days, don’t they?).

Besides Cinderella and Dragnet, Maltese heaps in another little send-up at the start. He opens the cartoon with the almost obligatory closing-in shot of the Snooper sign with the eye ball; this time, it’s on the front door of his office.

Announcer: Good evening, folks. Welcome to the ‘Surprise the Citizen’ programme. Tonight, we’re about to surprise that intrepid private eye, Super Snooper, and ask him all about himself. Aren’t we mischievous? (laughs).

For those of you too young to know, Maltese has taken a swipe at the entire programming roster of the incredibly successful Ralph Edwards Productions. ‘This is Your Life’ surprised ordinary people and celebrities alike by finding them, then dragging them on stage in a studio to tell their life story through friends who would join them on camera. ‘Truth or Consequences’ featured audience members attempting embarrassing stunts if they couldn’t answer Edwards’ unanswerable question, as he looked toward the studio seats and chuckled “Aren’t we devils?”

The shot from dissolves from a close-up on the door to a pan of Snooper’s office, which has an interesting angular layout you can see below but not so well during the pan. The camera rests on Blabbermouse, playing with a yo-yo. Snoop’s not there? No matter, Blab volunteers to field the eager announcer’s questions. Was there a case involving royalty? Sure there was. Blab pulls out the file on the ‘If the Shoe Fits, Wear It Caper.’

Now Blabber narrates the story-within-a-cartoon, which begins with Snoop and Blab on the water fishing in Upper Credonia. Their unsuccessful angling is interrupted by one of Maltese’s oddball sight gags—a messenger wearing a naval outfit and riding a pontoonish bicycle on the water. Maltese combines it with one of his typical redundant dialogue gags:

Blab: When, suddenly, we got a hurried call from the palace.
Messenger: Here’s a sudden hurried call from the palace.

The message is from Prince Ofafeller (Maltese would use A Prince of a Fella’ as the name of his Snow White spoof in the second season). Snoop puts their motorboat in gear and the next scene places them in the Prince’s chamber, also laid out with a bit of diagonal perspective. Ofafeller wants them to find the girl whose foot fits a glass slipper that was lost at the Royal Dance and offers them one million credolians.

Since the scenario reminds him “of the old Cinderella caper,” the first thing Snooper does is check the Yellow Pages for fairy godmothers. And there just happens to be a listing for one at 462 Witch Way. That’s their next stop. This gives Maltese a chance to pull out his ersatz Dragnet witness-questioning dialogue, complete with monotone witness—in this case, Wanda Wandwaver. Jean Vander Pyl gives her a Brooklyn accent, always popular in cartoons.

Wanda: Yeah, I remember her. She ordered the whole woiks. White mice, pumpkin, glass slippers. You know, the whole woiks.
Snoop: Yes, m’am.
Wanda: I want you to know I run a respectable place here. I want ya to know that.
Snoop: Yes, m’am.
Wanda: I use an honest wand in my woik. I want ya to know that.
Snoop: M’am, yes.
Wanda: I don’t want any trouble with the police.
Snoop: Who does? By the way, could you tell us where she lives?
Wanda: With an ugly sister, down at the waterfront.
Snoop: Thanks (grabs wand) I’ll just mark this wand Exhibit ‘A’ and return it later. Hold on to Exhibit ‘A’, Blab.
Blab: Right, Snoop.
Snoop: Oh, uh, by the way, I needn’t precaution you about leavin’ town.
Wanda: I’m stayin’ right here, I hate to travel. Ask anybody. “She hates to travel,” they’ll tell ya.
Snoop: Yes, m’am.

The two detectives walk along a city street. Blabber wonders how the wand works. “You tap somebody on the noggin and presto!” answers Snoop. So Blab tests it out and changes Snooper into a weiner-shaped white mouse. For some reason, the magic makes him nude except for a deerstalker cap. “Sorry, Snoop,” sadly remarks Blab as he changes him back.

The next stop is at the home of the ugly sister. Vander Pyl uses the dumb voice she’d later put in the larynx of the mama bear in A Prince of a Fella’. Snoop pretends to be a salesman giving away a free pair of shoes if the sister’s foot fits the glass slipper. She insists it fits even though she can’t even get her big toe in it. Snoop asks if there’s anyone else in the house. “Only my younger sister whom we can lock up in the tower because I’m jealous of her great beauty,” is the reply. Snooper heads up the stone steps to the tower.

Snoop: Man, she’s so ugly, she’ll never grow old. She’ll just “ug” away.

Snooper is quickly stopped from getting in to see the younger sister because of a barking guard dog. No problem. Snoop has Blab turn him into a mouse again. The great mouse-ized detective is then small enough to indulge in a familiar cartoon gag. He secretly wraps a string around various objects and ties one end to the dog. The other end is attached to a rock which Blab shoves off a dock into the water. The force pulls the dog through all the objects and into the ocean.

Now Snooper is able to get to the pretty younger sister who tries on the slipper. And viola! (as Snoop said earlier in the cartoon) It fits. So the case is closed. But leave it to Blab to louse up things.

You see, the dog pulls himself out of the water and growls at Blab. He quick-thinkingly tells the dog to “fetch the stick”—which happens to be the wand. Blabber throws it on a heap of garbage being hauled away by a truck, which the dog chases after. “I lost it,” wails Blab when Snooper asks him where the wand is that can change him back to “me big, handsome self.”

“Good grief! What happened after that?” the shocked announcer asks Blab, whose story has ended and the final scene of the cartoon takes place back in the office. We soon get the answer as Snoop rolls in inside a pumpkin-coach a la Cinderella. No, Blab hasn’t found the wand. “Well, hurry it up, pal. How much cheese do you think I can eat?” says hot dog-shaped rodent Snoop as the iris closes. (Blabber, being a mouse, ought to know the answer to that one).

Snooper doesn’t use his “Halt in the name of (fill in the blank)” catchphrase in this one.

The title card is very similar to Desperate Diamond Dimwits earlier in the series, except a diamond has the irradiated lines.

Most of the music is by Phil Green, with two cues by Jack Shaindlin, including a fast circus romp used in all three series on the Quick Draw show.

0:00 - Snooper and Blabber Main Title theme (Hoyt Curtin).
0:05 - GR-75 POPCORN SHORT BRIDGE No 1 (Green) – Office door, pan across office to Blab.
0:21 - GR-456 DOCTOR QUACK (Green) – Blab talks to announcer, close-up of photo album.
0:50 - GR-90 THE CHEEKY CHAPPIE (Green) – Snooper and Blabber fish, messenger arrives, motorboat leaves.
1:23 - GR-85 THE BRAVEST WOODEN SOLDIER BRIDGE No. 1 (Green) – Prince holds up slipper.
1:37 - GR-93 DRESSED TO KILL (Green) – Snooper agrees to take the case.
1:55 - GR-333 BUSTLING BRIDGE (Green) – Phone book scene.
2:15 - GR-87 SKELETON IN THE CUPBOARD (Green) – Magic shop scene, Blab zaps Snoop with wand.
3:08 - GR-348 EARLY MORNING (Green) – Snoop turned into mouse.
3:30 - GR-453 THE ARTFUL DODGER (Green) – Ugly sister tries on slipper, dog chases Snoop out of home, Blab turns Snoop into a mouse.
4:44 - GR-93 DRESSED TO KILL (Green) – Snoop ties string around a bunch of things and attaches it to dog.
5:24 - GR-454 THE ARTFUL DODGER BRIDGE No 1 (Green) – Blab tosses rock off dock.
5:28 - fast circus music (Shaindlin) – String pulls dog into ocean.
5:40 - PG-160G LIGHT MOVEMENT (Green) – Girl fits into glass slipper.
5:56 - COMEDY SUSPENSE (Shaindlin) – Dog growls at Blab, Blab throws wand on top of garbage truck.
6:27 - ASININE (Shaindlin) – Snoop enters office in pumpkin coach.
6:49 - Snooper and Blabber end title theme (Curtin).


  1. Hal Smith would frequently voice charismatic game-show hosts, notably in two FLINTSTONES episodes parodying THE PRICE IS RIGHT and CANDID CAMERA. He probably said "Aren't we DEVILS?!" in both of them.

    A character repeating verbatim what the narrator has just said is used frequently in Maltese-written H-B cartoons, but also in most Jay Ward shows as well. Likewise the narrator and characters interacting.

  2. Anthromorphized cartoon animals vs. 'realistic' animals has always been a cartoon paradox, all the way back to Disney- to say nothing of a cartoon mouse being relative 'human' height to his costars. Look at all the times Huck Hound has had to cope with 'real' dogs who can't talk but do snicker.

    So it's interesting to see how Dan Gordon- or whoever did character design on this cartoon- renders Snoop as a 'real' mouse and the contrast to anthromorphized mouse Blab.

  3. Boomerang is finally showing Augie Doggie and Doggie Daddy cartoons on their hour-long version of The Huckleberry Hound Show, at least this week. They've shown "High and Flighty," "Let's Duck Out," "Hum Sweet Hum," and "Gone to the Ducks." Alas, no Snooper and Blabber cartoons (occasionally, after another program, they slip in one of those). Instead, two lackluster Magilla Gorilla cartoons in each hour block. Nothing against these, but even something like Touche Turtle or Loopy De Loop is way more interesting and exciting than Magilla.

    Just wanted to let you know in case you have Boomerang.

  4. I have the Fractured Fairy Tale by Jay Ward "Cinderella Returns" with the Green "Custard Pie Capers" alias "Comedy Circus" EM-2 played several times..:)

    Steve C.

  5. I wonder why it is that when Snoop is turned into a mouse that he is so much smaller than Blab??

  6. By the way, Yowp, do you know the name of the cue that starts at the beginning of "Meece Missiles?" I know it's not exactly early HB, but I've always wondered about it. I hear it in a lot of the cartoons HB made in 1962-63 like in Snagglepuss and Top Cat. It happens to be one of my favorite cues that they used. Could it have been a cue that Hoyt Curtin created?

  7. Anything in Snagglepuss cartoons is by Curtin.

  8. @Robert: All background score heard in H-B cartoons made from 1961 through 1964 is from Hoyt Curtin. A handful of Huck, Meece, Quick Draw, Snooper and Doggie shorts made for the fall 1961 production season used Curtin rather than the more familiar Capital score. Some cartoon buffs feel the original 1958 series 'jumped the shark' by use of Curtin score- particularly the Yogi and Quick Draw cartoons.

    AFAIK, Curtin's cues don't have publicized titles the way the Capital cues do. They tend to be informally known as "Fred's Mad"; "Morning at the Jetsons"; Top Cat Scheming", etc.

  9. His music was often better than given credit for IMO. The seventies music,m largely by Ted Nichols and Mike Curb, is where it jumps shark [the teen idols aka meddlin' kids genre:)].