Saturday, 26 May 2012

Snooper and Blabber — Disappearing inc.

Produced and Directed by Bill Hanna and Joe Barbera.
Credits: Animation – Lew Marshall, Layout – Walt Clinton, Backgrounds - Fernando Montealegre, Story – Mike Maltese, Story Sketches – Dan Gordon, Titles – Art Goble, Production Supervision – Howard Hanson.
Voice Cast: Snooper, Blabber, Reporter 2, Reporter 3, Irish Cop – Daws Butler; Reporter 1, Professor, Phantom – Don Messick
Music: Phil Green, Jack Shaindlin.
First Aired: week of October 26, 1959 (repeat, week of April 25, 1960)
Episode: Quick Draw McGraw Show M-5, Production J-13.
Plot: A professor hires Snooper to get back his stolen No Can C invisibility formula.

Mike Maltese had a little formula for writing Hanna-Barbera cartoons when he arrived at the studio at the end of 1958. Mix some puns, catchphrases, butchered words, a bit of cartoon violence and some not-bright heroes who win in the end before something goes wrong. That pretty well describes this cartoon. It’s not hilarious but it’s amusing enough, and helped a great deal by Daws Butler and Don Messick.

In this cartoon, they’re also helped by the puppet show version of ‘Beany and Cecil,’ as the bad guy is a rip-off of villain Dishonest John, right down to the laugh. Messick used the voice as Harry Safari in the first season of ‘Ruff and Reddy’ and then in later Hanna-Barbera cartoons when appropriate (eg. ‘Who is El Kabong?’ as Norton South). Of course, moustachioed evil-doers date back to the silent film era, and the legitimate stage before that, but The Phantom seems to be a direct descendent of D.J. (Doug Young tried his hand at the same voice in the Quick Draw McGraw cartoon ‘Gun Gone Goons.’)

A pun opens the cartoon as reporters question an unnamed professor discoursing on liquids ‘A’ and ‘B,’ a “compound of a lot of scientific jazz” when, mixed together, create an invisibility formula called ‘No Can C.’ The professor warns if the formula “falls into the hands of some villainous, unscrupulous criminal.” Pan over to the window where The Phantom tells the audience he is such a person and “P.S. I am also a low-down snake.” He proves it by his arm becoming snake-like and grabbing the ‘No Can C.’ Unfortunately, the sound-cutter continues to use the meandering Jack Shaindlin tune ‘Pixie Pranks’ during the entire scene instead of switching to something a little more dramatic or urgent when the Professor discovers “I no can see the ‘No Can C’!”

This is another Snooper cartoon that features an eyeball, this time on Snoop’s office door. “Oh, dear me. Oh, dear you. Oh, dear everybody,” wails the Professor, as he hires the detectives to get back his formula. Speaking of formula, Blab spouts off a hero-worship about Snoop, who accepts it immodestly.

This is interrupted by the sound of an explosion. Cut to a shot of the outside of the First National Bank. The Phantom is now invisible and that’s assisted him in breaking in at night when no one is there to see him (This was 1959. I don’t think they had security cameras then, did they? And cartoon/comic bad guys never worried about them anyway). Monte did the backgrounds in this cartoon and you’ll notice the halo around the street lights and around the moon earlier in the cartoon. “Folly that culprit!” catchphrases Snoop.

Now comes a chase, with boxy, tail-finned cars we all knew and loved in the late ‘50s. Monte reuses the background he drew for “Switch Witch” with the fountain and the building with the clock. As far as I know, that was the only other cartoon where it appeared.

Snoop catchphrase: “Stop in the name of the private eye night school!” So the Phantom halts, causing a rear-ender. The invisible Phantom gets out, steals Snoop motor and drives away with it. Snooper and Blabber look really odd in this scene and the following one. It doesn’t look like Lew Marshall’s animation at all. The dialogue doesn’t have the standard Marshall three-position nose-bob. Snoop moves his jaw wide and deep, like Carlo Vinci would do, while Blab jerks his head. Snoop is cross-eyed when talking to the standard-issue Irish cop. The cop jerks his head down to the side when facing the camera during dialogue. The cop has a little lip out when he says the word “no,” like Mike Lah and several others did at MGM. So I can’t tell you who may have animated this. (Note: Mike Kazaleh can. It’s Phil Duncan, formerly of UPA).

Incidentally, the shots in the cop scene don’t match. In close-up, the cop’s head is up. But when he’s listening to Snooper’s story, his head is down.

The Phantom robs a jewellry store. This gives Snoop a chance to say the word “crin-imal.” And for the Phantom to use some good, old-fashioned pun-filled cartoon violence by bashing both Snoop and Blab on the head with a wrench. (“Let me have it,” Snoop says. You know what’ll happen next). Marshall is definitely animating this; the nose-bobs give it away.

It’s “elementar-rary” what happens next. Snoop figures the Phantom will rob the Second National Bank because he’s already robbed the First National. So they set a trap for him. Snoop lays out a trail of money leading into the vault. He uses the Professor’s formula to turn Blab invisible. When the crook goes into the vault, the invisible Blab closes the door on him.

Veteran Snooper and Blabber watchers might think Blab locks himself in the vault, too. But, no! The plan works. Only one problem. How do you get Blab visible again? Well, the Professor’s working on a formula for that. It should be ready in ten years. “What a mess,” Snoop tells the audience. “Now I got an assistant with no visible means of support.” Ah, well. Things are back to normal next week.

The soundtrack is chock-full of your Phil Green regulars. The cutter only uses one short music bed; later cartoons would feature a lot more.

0:00 - Snooper and Blabber Main Title theme (Curtin, Hanna, Barbera).
0:25 - LAF-4-6 PIXIE PRANKS (Shaindlin) – Scene with reporters.
1:51 - GR-74 POPCORN (Green) – Snoop and Professor talk.
2:10 - GR-356 DR QUACK (Green) – Blab blabbers about Snoop, Snoop responds.
2:27 - no music – Blab looks out window, alarm sound effect.
2:31 - EXCITEMENT UNDER DIALOGUE (Shaindlin) – Outside First National Bank, car crash, Snoop and Blab skid up to cop,
3:46 - GR-93 DRESSED TO KILL (Green) – Dialogue with cop, Jewellry robbery, Snoop and Blab with lumps.
5:03 - GR-248 STREETS OF THE CITY (Green) – Outside Second National Bank, money trail laid, Blab invisible, Snoop zips away.
6:15 - EM131I EERIE (Green) – Camera pans along money, cash collected, vault door slammed.
6:36 - GR-75 POPCORN SHORT BRIDGE No 1 (Green) – Snoop talks to professor, “What’ll I do now, Snoop?”
6:54 - GR-99 CUSTARD PIE CAPERS (Green) – Snoop hands Blab a whistle.
7:08 – Snooper and Blabber End Title theme (Curtin).


  1. The missing motor sequence was animated by Phil Duncan. Duncan animated a lot of bumpers and commercials at H&B.

  2. "It should be the vitamins which I take in the lunch time.", says the Irish cop (typically New Yorker) to us, when he sees the car with the invisible Phantom aboard.