Saturday, 3 March 2012

Snooper and Blabber — Fee-Fi-Fo-Fumble

Produced and Directed by Joe Barbera and Bill Hanna.
Credits: Animation – Carlo Vinci; Layout – Dick Bickenbach; Backgrounds – Bob Gentle; Story – Mike Maltese; Story Sketches – Dan Gordon; Titles – Art Goble; Production Supervision – Howard Hanson.
Voice Cast: Narrator, Giant, Jack, Sir Loin of Beef, both men in Audience, 1st Witness – Hal Smith; Snooper, Blabber, Master of Ceremonies, 2nd Witness – Daws Butler.
Music: Phil Green; Harry Bluestone/Emil Cadkin; Jack Shaindlin.
First Aired: week of Oct. 19, 1959 (rerun, week of April 18, 1960)
Episode: Quick Draw McGraw Show M-004, Production J-24
Plot: Snooper’s hunt for a missing bank building leads him to a beanstalk and a giant.

Apparently, detectives aren’t a bunch of film-noir types like Philip Marlowe, Richard Diamond and Sam Spade. They’re a gaggle of pipe-smoking Englishmen, even in the United States. At least, that’s what writer Mike Maltese would have you think judging by this cartoon.

Mind you, there are a couple of reasons for it. The way the plot plays out, two-fisted, All-American, hard-boiled dicks wouldn’t fit. And Maltese had a love for formal, dowdy old Englishmen sitting around amongst themselves. This is a precursor to the Snooper cartoon The Lion is Busy which aired later in the season, featuring the early version of Snagglepuss and Major Minor and set in the Adventurers Club (itself a precursor to the Snagglepuss series in 1961).

And Maltese had some experience with giants and beanstalks, too, first with Jack Wabbit and the Beanstalk (1943) for Friz Freleng, then the 3D Lumber Jack Rabbit (1954) and the self-referential Beanstalk Bunny (1955), both for Chuck Jones. But the plots in those cartoons make a little more sense than this one. Why did the giant take a bank? It wasn’t to store his gold; Jack grabbed it already. And it wasn’t for revenge; Jack didn’t own the bank. I still don’t get Snooper’s explanation at the end of the cartoon. No matter. Snooper understands it, and that’s all that counts.

There’s no Adventurers Club in this cartoon. It starts outside what looks like a hotel, with Dick Bickenbach supplying an overhead layout. The narrator/announcer tells us it’s an exciting night, as the world’s greatest private eyes are picking the winner of “the coveted gold Pussyfoot statuette awarded to the private eye solving the most difficult case of the year.” It looks like Sir Loin of Beef (Hmm. Mike Maltese seems to have used that name before) is a lock to win the award from his stuffy fellow Englishmen for solving the slippery case of “The Grease Spot Murder Mystery.” But then Snoop takes to the podium and tells his “fellow private eyelids” there isn’t “a participle of doubt” that they’ll change their minds and give him the statue.

Now we go into a flashback with Snoop getting a call to solve a 903. The gag here is the hyper Blabber shouts over and over about a 903, interrupting only to tell viewers matter-of-factly “I always get excited when it’s a 903. They’re the worst kind.”

So off they go, 16 times driving past the same buildings in the background as ‘Desperate Diamond Dimwits’ (which had backgrounds by Fernando Montealegre) and ‘Flea and Me’ (Montealegre again) to get “a private eye-full,” as Blab puts it. This whole scene gives Maltese a chance to imitate clichés from detective shows, including trite dialogue:

Snoop (looking around where bank was): It’s gone alright.
Blab: It sure is missin’.

And later, when questioning “folks in the vicinity”:

Snoop: Excuse me, sir, but—
Man (pointing): It was right over there.
Snoop: Thanks. That helps.
Scene wipe.
Snoop: This is merely routine, sir.
Man (pointing): It was right over there.
Snoop: Every little bit helps, sir.

Then in Dragnet style, Snoop questions Jack, who is pulling a wagon with a bag of gold in it. All he keeps getting for an answer is “I ain’t tellin’.” The camera cuts back and forth to head shots of whoever is talking, breaking up the visuals a bit with the occasional three-character shot. It works really well.

“Just as I elementaried,” Snoop discovers a beanstalk at Jack’s house. The idea of a beanstalk with an elevator appeared in Jack-Wabbit and the Beanstalk and showed up a few years later in Lantz’s Woody the Giant Killer (1947).

Blab: Gosh, Snoop, how do you talk to a giant?
Snoop: Easy, Blab. Just talk big.

The next scene features Snooper and Blabber crawling all over the giant but not knowing it’s him. Blab wakes him up by yelling into an echo-chamber that’s really the giant’s ear (Maltese had an ear-noise gag in ‘Jack-Wabbit’). And there’s a hair-fire gag (just like in ‘Jack-Wabbit’).

The pair try to escape but the giant captures them (calling them “firebugs”) and threatens to squish them. Snooper’s as calm as any detective might be, thanks to his huge ego. Snooper explains who he is and the giant is impressed by meeting his “hero.” Wait. If Snooper’s his hero, how come he didn’t recognise him? Oh, right. Giants in cartoons are never bright.

The final scene has Snooper finishing his story to the anger and scepticism by fellow members of the club. I still don’t get why the giant took the bank. Anyway, Snoop’s still confident. He whistles for the giant to prove his story really happened and the two detectives jump into his hand for a free ride home, but not before Snoop grabs the Pussyfoot statuette to claim for himself.

There’s no “Halt in the name of (blank)” gag in this cartoon, and eyeball on Snooper’s office door, window, wall, etc.

Composer Phil Green used to write ‘suites’ of music and part of the suite contained a series of short bridges, labelled A-F in the EMI Q library. It sounds like a couple were used here but I can’t identify them (the second may be from the ‘Kiddie Comedy Suite’ but I haven’t found it).

0:00 - Snooper and Blabber Main Title theme (Curtin)
0:25 - PG-171 PERIOD FANFARE (Green) – Aerial shot of building, pan shot of statue.
0:40 - CB-90 HAPPY HOME (Cadkin-Bluestone) - Stuffy Englishman speaks, Snoop and Blab talk.
1:11 - CB-83A MR TIPPY TOES (Cadkin-Bluestone) – Emcee introduces Snoop, Snooper at podium, phone rings, Blab blabs about a “903.”
2:01 - PG-? (Green) – Blab talks to camera.
2:06 - LFU-117-2 MAD RUSH No 2 (Shaindlin) – Blab excited about a “903,” Snoop and Blab drive up to bank.
2:23 - GR-74 POPCORN (Green) – Car skids to stop, Snoop talks to witnesses, talks to Jack.
3:25 - PG-168J FAST MOVEMENT (Green) – Car goes to Jack’s place.
3:34 - GR-258 THE TIN DRAGOONS (Green) – Camera pans to beanstalk, Snoop and Blab go into elevator.
4:14 - PG-? (Green) – Elevator goes up.
4:18 - GR-87 SKELETON IN THE CUPBOARD (Green) – Snoop and Blab get out of elevator, Blab on nose, “Go ahead and try it, Blab...”
5:06 - EM-131I EERIE (Green) – “...if it’ll make you happy.” Blab shouts in ear.
5:11 - COMEDY SUSPENSE (Shaindlin) – Giant gets up, fire, Snoop and Blab jump off nose.
5:49 - LFU-117-2 MAD RUSH No 2 (Shaindlin) Snoop and Blab run, Giant grabs them.
5:57 - GR-456 DR QUACK (Green) – Giant talks to Snoop and Blab, Snoop on podium, Snoop whistles.
6:44 - GR-96 BY JIMINY! IT’S JUMBO (Green) – Giant stomps to window, Snoop and Blab on hand, “I forgot something.”
7:02 - GR-79 CUSTARD PIE CAPERS SHORT BRIDGE No 2 (Green) – Snoop runs off hand, returns with statue, cartoon ends.
7:09 - Snooper and Blabber End Title Theme (Curtin)


  1. I`M GUNNA SkAwiish yOOO! Gotta love how he says that line!

  2. From this, can we infer that Maltese also wrote the Ricochet Rabbit cartoon “Cactus Ruckus”, where a Giant ALSO stole a bank building – and scurried up a towering CACTUS, in place of a beanstalk? Even though Maltese has no actual writing credit at the end of The Magilla Gorilla Show?

    We DO know that he wrote a Disney “Super Goof” story for Gold Key Comics – “Blank Deposit” in SUPER GOOF # 23 (November, 1972), in which the Beanstalk Giant (Guess what?) robs the bank building and hides out in “Fairy Tale Land”! In this case, Maltese actually offered the reason that the bank building was to be used to keep his gold safe from the pilfering of Jack. Maybe a similar reason applied here.

    There were also Hanna-Barbera style (non-Disney-like) sarcastic retorts such as:

    SUPER GOOF: “Say, you’re thuh Three Little Pigs!

    PIG # 1 (scowling): No! We’re the Three Musketeers! Sheesh!

    So, this sort of “bank robbery” would seem to be a standard plot device for him. And, say… Wasn’t Sherlock Holmes a ‘pipe-smoking Englishman”?

  3. And the Golden Detective goes to... (reminding the Academy Awards [a.k.a. Oscar])

  4. Found and uploaded to youtube