Saturday, 23 April 2011

Quick Draw McGraw — Masking For Trouble

Produced and Directed by Bill Hanna and Joe Barbera.
Animation – Lew Marshall, Layout – Dick Bickenbach, Backgrounds – Fernando Montealegre, Story – Mike Maltese, Story Sketches – Dan Gordon, Titles – Art Goble, Production Supervision – Howard Hanson (Credits courtesy Earl Kress).
Voice Cast: Narrator, Bad Guy in Saloon, Cleaner, Telegram Delivery Man, Sundown Sam – Don Messick; Quick Draw, Baba Looey, Cowpoke – Daws Butler; Sagebrush Sally – Julie Bennett.
Music: Victor Lamont, Jack Shaindlin, Phil Green, Bill Loose/John Seely.
First Aired: week of Oct. 12, 1959 (rerun, week of Apr. 11, 1960).
Production: Quick Draw McGraw Show M-003, Production No J-10.
Plot: Quick Draw tries to rescue Sagebrush Sal from Sundown Sam.

All the attention on Chuck Jones’ The Dover Boys (1942) has been focused on the style of the backgrounds and the smear animation, but none of that interested me as a young viewer. The fun part was the goofy interrupting guy (a device borrowed from Tex Avery) and the fact the stiff-as-a-board helpless woman (played by the wonderful Sara Berner) beat the crap out of the bad guy. Mike Maltese has kind of borrowed the last aspect from his former writing partner (Tedd Pierce) for this cartoon. Sagebrush Sally has been abducted but is only mildly interested in what’s happened to her. It’s all a game and she goes through the motions. She sits stiffly in a chair, emitted an obligatory and automaton-like “help,” but is more concerned about applying make-up than being rescued. And at the end, she decides to get in on the violence.

Contrast that with the idiotic Quick Draw McGraw, who keeps shooting himself in the face or the foot and has an obsession with being in disguise because, well, that’s going through the motions of being a Western hero. Either that, or Maltese loved putting Quick Draw in secret costumes. The Zorro-like El Kabong was one (half the new cartoons in the last season were centred around El Kabong and not Quick Draw) and the Lash Larue-like Whip made an appearance in another. Here, Maltese goes for a Lone Ranger-type mask but ditches the idea early when he takes a somewhat logical premise and brings it to a silly conclusion.

The cartoon opens with a pan along a western street with some nicely-angled, basic buildings. Don Messick is intoning as gunfire is in progress.

Narrator: As a result of the extreme lawlessness in the Old West, no honest citizen dared brave the blazing guns of these reckless hoodlums, except one, known only as the Master Avenger. He would suddenly appear to mete out justice in his own inimitable way.

At this point, Quick Draw can’t get the stuck gun out of his holster and shoots his foot.

Narrator: Wherever there was trouble, there, too, was this mysterious stranger.

At this point, Quick slides into a saloon and can’t get his gun to fire until he points it at his face.

Only Maltese could come up with something as off-kilter as the next bit. “The Masked Avenger” has taken his mask in to the cleaners. But the cleaners has sent it to the cleaners and it hasn’t come back in yet. Baba’s fed up with the mask business, as you can tell in the tone of his voice, and when he suggests giving up the idea, Quick Draw’s informs him he’ll do the thin’in’ around here.

Quick Draw and Baba leave and pass a couple of cowpokes.

Cowpoke 1: Jumpin’ jackrabbits! Get a load of that insipid, stupid-lookin’ cowpoke over there.
Quick Draw: Huh? Hey! That’s it. Baba boy, I shall assume the role of an insipid, stupid-looking cowboy. No one will ever recogni-size me.
Old guy on scooter: Telegram! (stops scooter) Whoa, Nelly. Are you Quick Draw McGraw who has assumed the role of an insipid, stupid-lookin’ and who was formally the Masked Avenger?
Quick Draw: Yup. The same.

Quick Draw reads the telegram from Sagebrush Sally, “a typical Western heroine who needs to be saved from a typical Western villain” who, among other crimes, has been turning off her water.

We cut to the Sally ranch home where Quick Draw takes a run for the door to break it down. Except it’s unlocked. Quick Draw ends up in an old wood stove. The camera pans to Sally and her lipstick.

The insipid, stupid-lookin’ cowpoke demands to know “where-at’s that villain, Sundown Sam?” Sam’s behind him. As you might guess, he’s a puny guy with a wimpy Don Messick voice who tells him to “get off my stolen property.” His derringer is puny, too. But it works really well on Quick Draw’s face.

The chase is on.

Sally: Help. Help.
Quick Draw: Drop that gal Sal, you sawed-off six-shooter!
Sam: Who’s going to make me, you insipid stupid-lookin’ cowpoke?
Quick Draw: Hmm. Now, that’s a good question.
Baba: Hey, Quickstraw. You’re supposed to make him drop the Señorita Sal.
Quick Draw: I am?
Baba: That’s right.
Quick Draw (shouting in front of him): I’m going to make him drop her, you half-pint vill-ee-an!

Sam pulls out his teeny gun. Quick Draw responds by shooting himself in the foot while trying to remove his stuck gun again. But Sam “can’t wait all day” for that, so before it happens he runs off.

Sam: Marry me, and I’ll give back the ranch I stole from you.

Sam threatens to drop Sally, still in her chair, off the cliff if she doesn’t marry him. “I don’t care,” she responds, still more concerned about her lipstick. Down she goes, but the chair hits a branch and springs back up. Cut to Sam walking away (“I’ll show her. I’ll rustle more of her cattle”), then turning around and catching the chair.

Sam: I missed you while you were gone, Sally-bun.

Quick Draw grabs Sal and the chair and Sam shoots him in the face. “Why don’t you pick on somebody your own size?” asks Quick Draw. That’s Baba’s cue to punch Sam in the nose. Suddenly, Sally gets angry, punches Quick Draw, makes sure “Sundown, baby” is fine, then starts shooting at Quick Draw and Baba. I like the way easily she breaks free of the ropes tying her up, as if they aren’t there and she’s merely playing the role of a kidnapped woman.

Baba: Now what we do, Quickstraw?
Quick Draw (turns eye to audience): That’s easy. Watch for me in my next picture, when the Masked Avenger rides again! And dooooon’t you forget it!

And the pair continues running in medium-close shot until the scene fades out.

This was apparently Julie Bennett’s first role at Hanna-Barbera; certainly it was before Cindy Bear existed. For whatever reason, Joe Barbera didn’t go with Jean Vander Pyl, who played ingénues in other Quick Draw cartoons. Maltese dropped the “ly” in Sally’s name for her other appearance in ‘Standing Room Only’ the following season (so-called databases that claim she appeared in ‘Double Barrel Double’ and ‘Riverboat Shuffled’ are wrong; you can read the cartoon summaries here on this blog for the truth).

The sob-story song ‘Winter Tales’ (also known as ‘Hearts and Flowers’) gets an appropriate workout in this cartoon. Hanna-Barbera also used a sad trombone underscore, especially in the Augie Doggie cartoons, but the sound cutter has cued into the violin portion this time. There’s also an almost indistinguishable ten seconds or so of a David Rose cue assigned by Bill Loose and John Seely to the Hi-Q ‘D’ series. Many of the Theme Craft cues had alternate, non-Hi-Q names; eg. ‘TC-432 Light Movement’ is also ‘Holly Day.’ In this case, the alternate name for TC-74 is the really cool ‘Oppressive Death.’ I think it was the only time used in a Hanna-Barbera cartoon, unless it was in Ruff and Reddy, which used a lot of ‘D’ cues.

0:00 - Quick Draw Sub Main Title theme (Curtin-Hanna-Barbera).
0:13 - HOME ON THE RANGE (arr. Lamont) – Gunfight, street scene, saloon scene.
1:12 - GR-99 THE DIDDLECOMB HUNT (Green) – Scene in cleaners, Quick Draw comes up with new disguise.
1:59 - GR-347 GATHERING THE PRODUCE (Green) – Telegram guy shows up.
2:15 - WINTER TALES (arr. Lamont) – Quick Draw reads telegram.
2:44 - related to Excitement Under Dialogue (Shaindlin) – Ranch exterior, Quick Draw in stove, Quick Draw wants to know where Sam is.
3:22 - TC-74 SOMBER (Loose-Seely) – Sam shoots Quick Draw.
3:38 - WINTER TALES (arr. Lamont) – Sam runs off with Sally in chair.
3:49 - LFU-117-3 MAD RUSH No 3 (Shaindlin) – Quick Draw chases after Sam and Sal.
4:11 - CRAZY GOOF (Shaindlin) – Baba tell Quick Draw he’s got to rescue Sally, Quick Draw shoots himself in the foot.
5:11 - sad trombone music (Shaindlin) – Sally dropped off cliff, flies back up, refuses marriage proposal.
5:40 - related to Excitement Under Dialogue (Shaindlin) – Sam shoots Quick Draw, gets punched, Sally punches Quick Draw.
6:15 - WINTER TALES (arr. Lamont) – Sally comforts Sam, shoots at Quick Draw.
6:27 - GR-77 CUSTARD PIE CAPERS (Green) – Quick Draw and Baba run.
6:59 - Quick Draw Sub End Title theme (Curtin).


  1. You can tell how earlier this is, not just by Sally's full name but by Quick Draw's "ooh, that smarts". Also, Sagebrush Sally is hot.:) The hammy sad music, use din this and in the Augie one done last week, definitely fits better, I admit than under a siught of Doggie Daddy, since here it's done for the same campiness.

    "Winter Tales" was never used so often in an HB cartoon, as in this one, and it's one of the onl;y cues that was equally used both in Huck and Quick Draw, along with TC-205 Light Movement (not used in this cartoon), though seems that "Winter Tales", despite one more Yogi short, "Do or Diet", picking it up, went straight to the "Quick Draw" series.

    Finally, having Don Messick do that meek "Ruff and Reddy" Pink Elephant/Professer Gizmo voice for a VILLIAN is definitely hilarious.:)

  2. It seems that the layout on this Quick Draw McGraw episode was done by Dick "Bick" Bickenbach.

  3. Warners used this type of twist ending a couple of times, pre-Maltese, in 1934's "Those Were Wonderful Days" and 1935's "Little Dutch Plate", where the abducted damsel at the end of the story decides she's rather be with the bad guy when he gets waylayed by the hero (Pierce was at Warners at least by the time the latter cartoon was made and might have had a hand in it, but WB wouldn't start giving story credits for another two years).

    Even with the less-jokey 1930s storylines, I actually liked the endings of those two cartoons better than this, because the heroes in both those shorts were pretty much humorless stiffs you didn't care about. Here, Quick Draw pretty much takes it throughout the entire cartoon, and ends up with a punch in the snout as a reward. In contrast in "The Dover Boys", before the triple KO of the three young jerks we get we get to see Dora the Destroyer wreck havoc on Dan Backslide.

  4. The Quick Draw cartoons as a whole seem an indirect knockoff of several 1950s cartoons- particuarly the two Westerns- Mike Maltese wrote for Chuck Jones that depicted Daffy as a would-be hero done in as much by his own misplaced self-confidence than any tangible villian. Completing the equation is the much-smarter sidekick. Granted, Quick Draw is more purely 'stupid' than Daffy while Baba is more practical and less sarcastic than Porky. But the parallels seem clear.

    Sundown Sam recalls Droopy's meek, seemingly harmless manner- though he's much more verbose and aggressive.

  5. JL, I know what you're saying. Quick Draw generally isn't a "winner" character and Maltese invented several different kinds of ending fates for him. There are cartoons that just end inconclusively (Yippee Coyote), cartoons with a here-we-go-again finish (Six Gun Spooks), cartoons where he wins but is done in by his own ineptness (Sagebrush Brush, Dizzy Desperado). This is one where he does everything right and still loses. Since Quick Draw's a likeable character, it's a crappy way for the cartoon to finish.

  6. You forgot to add Baba's comment at the very end, after Quick Draw advises viewers to "Watch for me in my next picture, when the Masked Avenger rides again! And doooon't you forget it!"

    BABA: (also turning eye to audience) I know one thin'- I'M not gonna be in it! And doooon't YOU forget it, either! Adios!
    {fade out}