Saturday, 25 June 2011

Snooper and Blabber — Baby Rattled

Produced and Directed by Joe Barbera and Bill Hanna.
Credits: Animation – Ken Muse; Layout – Dick Bickenbach; Backgrounds – Bob Gentle; Story – Mike Maltese; Story Sketches – Dan Gordon; Titles – Art Goble; Production Supervision – Howard Hanson.
Voice Cast: Snooper, Blabber, Irish Cop – Daws Butler; Rich Guy, Baby Pants Pinkie – Doug Young.
Music: Bill Loose/John Seely; Jack Shaindlin; Phil Green; Spencer Moore; Geordie Hormel.
Production No: Quick Draw McGraw M-001, Production J-14.
First Aired: week of Sept. 28, 1959 (rerun, week of March 28, 1960)
Plot: Snooper and Blabber chase a pearl-necklace-stealing crook disguised as a baby.

Mike Maltese must have adored the Our Gang short Free Eats (1932). It centred around a little jewel-thieving crook who tried to avoid being caught by dressing up like a baby. Maltese used the premise at least three times. He had Bugs Bunny tangle with Baby Face Finster in Baby Buggy Bugs (1954). He then brought the idea with him to Hanna-Barbera and dumped variations on it in two Snooper and Blabber cartoons: this cartoon, the first Snooper to air, and the start of Masquerader Raider later the same season.

He must have thought the premise was funny in and of itself because there’s not a lot to augment it in this cartoon. There’s a bit of silly wordplay and enough quirks to make it likeable, but there’s also a lot of running (the cartoon’s plot inclusively ends with it) and a cop (Irish, of course) who’s so unbelievably stupid, he doesn’t realise the baby is a criminal, even after getting shot in the face with a gun. It just seems like not a lot really happens.

Snooper’s detective business was either doing well and respected, or poor off and ridiculed, depending on the need of the cartoon. In this one, it’s doing so well, Snooper has a snazzy Bickenbach model sports car, which we see in the establishing shot in front of a brick, Tudor mansion. Maltese uses one of his standard word-gags—he puts adjectives into the dialogue that no one would ever use in real life. The unnamed rich guy doesn’t tell the detectives he’s hired them to guard his mansion. He’s hired them to guard his “elegant, expensive mansion.” I wonder if Maltese didn’t intend the character to be somewhat English, in the manner of the frightfully wealthy gent in the Snooper adventure Gopher Goofers later that season. The rich man talks about a “fortnit” and Snoop bids farewell with “a couple of pip pips.” But Doug Young doesn’t really provide an accent of any kind, though he was capable of doing it. The biggest gag:

Blab: Gee, that’s a small suitcase for such a rich man, Snoop.
Snoop: Suitcase, nuttin. That’s his wallet.

Snooper and Blabber’s main task is to guard the Maharajah Gooch pearl, which happens to be the target of jewel thief Baby Pants Pinkie, who is watching the mansion from his 1959 Bickenbach (The Car With No Doors!) as the rich guy leaves. “Those private eyes are in for a surprise,” says Baby Pants (Maltese came down with a case of Charlie Shows rhyming disease, it seems). He gets into his baby disguise and deposits himself on the doorstep as Snooper is making sand-a-wiches. Here’s where Ken Muse just had to shrug at the time and cost restrictions of limited animation. The doorway is at an angle but Muse doesn’t have Blabber going outside in perspective. The mouse is on a cycle, left to right across the screen. Incidentally, Maltese invokes Cartoon Rule No. 645: “All cartoon crooks disguised as babies must smoke a cigar.” Of course, Blab misses the cigar.

Blab: Snoop! It’s a b-b-baby!
Snoop (from the kitchen): A what-by?

The note reads on the baby basket reads “Please take care of my little Muggsy I’m going to the races an’ will pick him up later!” A similar rough-house vocabulary note is found in Baby Buggy Bunny.

Snoop thinks the gun that falls out of the “heavy little tyke” is a rattle. Nice timing as the “baby” flips over 180 degrees then back to retrieve and hide the gun. There’s also a subtle bit of animation. Baby Pants starts bawling and gives a little bawl at the end and looks at Snoop to see if he’s buying the baby act.

Maltese tosses in a character-casually-defies-gravity gag as Baby Pants goes to blow up the safe containing the Maharajah Gooch pearl (actually a string of pearls). Stupid Blab, naturally, thinks the “baby” is being playful when he asks “Got a match, copper?” He doesn’t catch on it’s Baby Pants until the crook runs away and stops to show off his disguise.


Snoop (chasing Baby Pants): Stop in the name of the Private Eye Prep!

The cartoon’s more than half over already and the rest of time is spent getting tangled up with the stupid Irish cop who thinks Snooper and Blabber are bothering a real baby. The best (and about the only) gag is when Baby Pants jumps on the cop’s lap and switches his bonnet for the cop’s cap. Snoop is behind them with a baseball bat. A bush is blocking his view of everything except the head with the bonnet. “Go to sleep, my little goo-goo baby!” paraphrases Snoop, as he whops the officer on the head.

Finally, Snoop gets the pearls back. “And remember, crime hardly ever pays,” he exhorts to the criminal. But, no. The officer whops him with a billy-club and gives the pearls back to the “baby.” He doesn’t catch on to the fact it’s Baby Pants Pinkie until the “child” drives up to him, asks for a light for a cigar and drives away.

The cartoon ends with the officer running after the crook (past the same trees nine times), with Snooper and Blabber handcuffed to him, flying in the air behind.

The sound cutter, for whatever reason, decided to use a lot of music that’s normally found on The Huckleberry Hound Show. I wonder if different cutters were assigned to each show and they switched off for this one cartoon. One of them was Warner Leighton, who came to Hanna-Barbera from Dudley Films. Another was Joe Ruby, who as most readers like know, joined H-B’s Ken Spears to form their own studio in the ‘70s.

0:00 - Snooper and Blabber Main Title theme (Curtin)
0:25 - TC-436 SHINING DAY (Loose-Seely) – Snooper and Blabber with rich guy, rich guy drives away, pan to Baby Pants’ car.
1:21 - related to ‘Excitement Under Dialogue’ (Shaindlin) – Baby Pants in car, changes.
1:46 - GR-93 DRESSED TO KILL (Green) – Blab watches TV, Baby Pants on porch, inside home, crawls away.
3:02 - L-1154 ANIMATION COMEDY (Moore) – Baby Pants climbs up fireplace, blows up safe.
3:45 - LAF-2-12 ON THE RUN (Shaindlin) – Blab looks out window, “Gotcha Baby Pants.”
4:03 - TC-303 ZANY COMEDY (Loose-Seely) – Snooper shakes “baby,” clobbered by officer, Baby Pants shoots officer.
4:51 - fast circus chase music (Shaindlin) – Baby Pants runs, jumps on officer.
5:28 - GR-93 DRESSED TO KILL (Green) – Scene on park bench.
6:07 - LAF-6-16 Sportscope-like march (Shaindlin) – Baby Pants runs, captured in garbage can.
6:17 - TC-300 ECCENTRIC COMEDY (Loose-Seely) – Snoop reaches into garbage can, clubbed by officer, Baby Pants drives off, “So, what else is new?”
6:57 - ZR-48 FAST MOVEMENT (Hormel) – Officer chases after Baby Pants.
7:09 - Snooper and Blabber End Title theme (Curtin).


  1. That sounds like a horrendously unsatisfying ending.

    I believe Joe Ruby and Ken Speers were both cutters along with Greg Watson. They're credited on episodes of The Flintstones and Loopy De Loop.

  2. There's also a little bit of the Maltese-Jones Daffy Duck in the early Snooper-Blabber episodes, in that the heroes tend to come out on the wrong side of the situation at the iris out, after taking it through most of the cartoon . This was one of those early examples, though by mid-season Maltese seemed to figure out that having a low-keyed character like Snoop get it in the end most of the time didn't play well without Daffy's desperate braggadocio, and the stories were adjusted accordingly.

  3. Jesus, "Yowp-Yowp" Dodsworth!

    This Snooper & Blabber episode is antologic!
    "They're making realistic toys nowadays!"

  4. Snnoper & Blabber: two trouble-makers in chains with the Irish cop (typically New Yorker), at the moment at this same policeman was chasing the tiny-sized Baby Pants at the end of this episode.
    "This isn't my day", says a bittered Snooper, exactly at the end of this same episode.

  5. Since this was the first episode of the series, that means this was probably the first produced- at the tail end of the 1958-'59 production season. Which means that several cues from Capitol's "Hi-Q" music library concurrently used for "HUCKLEBERRY HOUND" were also employed {"Shining Day", "Zany Comedy", "Eccentric Comedy", "Fast Movement"}. When Snooper and Blabber finally went into regular production, different cues from the library were utilized [note that Hanna-Barbera continued to generally use the same music cues during Huck's first two seasons, while using "newer" ones for all of the Quick Draw McGraw segments].