Saturday, 1 September 2012

Augie Doggie — The Party Lion

Produced and Directed by Joe Barbera and Bill Hanna.
Credits: Animation – Lew Marshall, Layout – Tony Rivera, Backgrounds – Bob Gentle, Written by Mike Maltese, Story Director – Alex Lovy, Titles – Art Goble, Production Supervision – Howard Hanson.
Voice Cast: Augie Doggie, Ol’ Snaggletooth, Dispatcher, Cop Ralph – Daws Butler; Doggie Daddy, Zookeeper, Cop Joe, radio newsman – Doug Young.
Music: Phil Green, Jack Shaindlin, Harry Bluestone/Emil Cadkin, Hecky Krasnow, Clarence Wheeler?
First Aired: 1961.
Plot: Zoo escapee Ol’ Snaggletooth pretends to be a rug while hiding out at Doggie Daddy’s home.

In a scene at the doorway of the Doggie Daddy residence, an escaped mountain lion pleads thusly to Augie:

Snaggletooth: I’ll cook. I’ll sew. I’ll scrub the floors. Please let me stay. Give me sanctuary, and I’ll sanctu-ary much.
Augie: Okay.
Snaggletooth: Don’t step on the laugh.

And virtually all the laughs in the cartoon come from the theatricality of the mountain lion, thanks to imaginative dialogue from Mike Maltese interpreted by the masterful Daws Butler using Bert Lahr-like inflections. Let’s face it. The artwork and basic story idea itself were done better in Yogi Bear’s “Be My Guest Pest” a couple of years earlier.

Maltese may have picked up the idea of a character who behaved like a declamatory thespian from a dog used in several of Art Davis’ Goofy Gopher cartoons at Warner Bros., but the dog took himself pretty seriously and loses at every turn. In the various appearances of the version of Snagglepuss before he got his own series, he gets the better of everyone and seems to have fun doing it.

This cartoon’s a little different from the others featuring the pre-series Snag. For one thing, Maltese decides to call him “Ol’ Snaggletooth.” For another, he’s brown-coloured (except in the title card where he’s orange). And for another, he’s not a heckler like he was in the Quick Draw McGraw series. He’s the one put upon like in his own series on “The Yogi Bear Show” later in the year. But you can’t mistake the dialogue. Here are his opening words after be breaks out of his cage at the zoo.

Snag: Ah, freedom! Nectar of the untethered! Balsam of the fettered! (siren sound off-camera) Hark! ‘Tis the pealing wail of the snitching sireen foreboding me ill. So, exit, stage right.

How can you hate a cartoon character who talks like that?

Snag (to zookeeper chasing him): I’m a sufferer of claustrophobia. (turns to audience) That’s near Snide, Nevada.

Snagglepuss sings to himself (while stock music plays in the background) as he tries to hitch a ride to escape. A siren is heard off camera again.

Snag: Heavens to Murgatroyd! Minions of the law. Cops, even. So, exit, stage right.

Snag runs up a tree. The patrol car follows him and gets stuck as he runs away. Maltese can’t resist a bad one as one cop says to the other: “Oh, great. Now we’re really up a tree.” The officers are named Joe and Ralph in this; Maltese resisted calling them Joe and Bill which tended to be used as names for incidental characters (for some reason) in earlier H-B cartoons.

Maltese pulls off another pun in the next scene. Snag has pulled up at the Doggie home (“Ere I drop, utterly pooped). Daddy’s frowning over his stack of bills. “I wish I had the bills to pay all these bills.” Normally, that’d be a groaner, but even Daddy doesn’t take his humour seriously as he laughs at the lameness of his own pun. As the scene unfolds, “unimaginative dad” learns that Augie, with his pop gun, is a “mighty hunter,” but informs himself there have been no wild beasts around, not even a “titsy-titsy fly.” The doorbell rings.

Snag: Trick or treat.
Augie: Say! That’s a very for-really lion costume you have on.
Snag: I’ve had it a long time. We’re practically inseperab-b-ble, you might say. It’s the best skin on the market. Or off, even.
Augie: How come it’s Hallowe’en in August?
Snag: Why not? Be first, I always say. Beat the Christmas rush.

The conversation is interrupted by a radio blaring a bulletin about an escaped lion. Snag successfully begs Augie to allow him to hide out, and a disguise as a sample from a rug salesman easily fools dear old dad.

Now come the violence gags. What’s a shame here is the H-B artwork in the short cartoons started becoming more nondescript about this time. Lew Marshall came up with some funny reaction drawings of Mr. Jinks after a bashing in the 1958 season. Two years later, Snag doesn’t look any worse for wear. First, Daddy bashes the lion against the floor to shake off the mud on its feet. Then, he falls asleep and his pipe burns the “rug.” Snag zooms under a table with Dad still on top of him and puts his “nether end” in a bucket of water outside. Augie keeps up the ruse by beating the “rug” when Daddy looks out the window. Through it all, Snag doesn’t have one hair out of place. It wouldn’t have taken much to show him rumbled by the physicality.

Snag emits a “Heavens to Murgatroyd” again in the next scene as the cops come to the door and urge Doggie Daddy to keep calm as they save him from the dangerous escaped lion. Maltese borrows an idea from Warren Foster’s Bugs Bunny-Cop-Rocky-Stove routine in “Bugs and Thugs” (1954). (See note from J. Lee in the comment section). Daddy jumps on Snag (in re-used animation). “Could I do dat to a dangerous lion?” asks Dad. “Well, no,” says Joe the Cop. “Or thusly?” as he bashes Snag against the floor (in re-used animation). “No,” says Joe, and the cops leave. But Daddy learns “de skin’s alive” when he puts a rifle to Snag’s face, and the lion pipes up and surrenders.

The final scene has Augie reading a book about jungles while sitting on a smiling Snagglepuss. Cut to Doggie Daddy laughing at the camera as he gives his standard “After all” ending. “How many kids got a real, live lion to study geography on?” he asks us. “Ain’t it the truth,” says Snag, quoting Bert Lahr’s Cowardly Lion, as the iris closes.

The uncredited sound cutter does his best to try to score to the action with stock music. He uses snippets of cues, instead of just letting them run through a scene. There’s a fast chase cue from Jack Shaindlin when the racing cop car appears. The ominousness of an escaped lion is underscored by the quiet dramatics the mid-section of Shaindlin’s “Excitement Under Dialogue.” And we get the jolly whistle of Hecky Krasnow’s “The Happy Cobbler” when Snag and Augie have their “trick or treat” dialogue at the door. The music is all of the stock variety, but a Hoyt Curtin musical effect is used with a trumpet stab to augment the shot of the empty, broken lion cage. When the police car pulls up at the house, a cue is played which may be Clarence Wheeler’s “Woodwind Capers.” ASCAP says it was used in Augie cartoons but what it sounds like isn’t identified.

0:00 - Augie Doggie Main Title theme (Curtin-Hanna-Barbera)
0:25 - PG-160G LIGHT MOVEMENT (Green) – Zookeeper walking, stops.
0:29 - trumpet stab (Curtin) – Pan to empty cage.
0:30 - LFU-117-1 MAD RUSH No 1 (Shaindlin) – Zookeeper runs.
0:37 - LFU-117-3 MAD RUSH No 3 (Shaindlin) – Snag comes into scene.
0:44 - LFU-117-1 MAD RUSH No 1 (Shaindlin) – Siren wails, exit stage right.
0:54 - fast circus chase music (Shaindlin) – Zookeeper chases after Snag.
1:13 - GR-248 STREETS OF THE CITY (Green) – Cop car, Snag hitches
1:30 - fast circus chase music (Shaindlin) – Cop car races down street, up tree, Snag stops at house.
1:58 - GR-75 POPCORN SHORT BRIDGE No 1 (Green) – Snag pauses.
2:09 - CB-90 HAPPY HOME (Cadkin-Bluestone) – Doggie Daddy’s bills, Augie is a mighty hunter, doorbell.
2:52 - THE HAPPY COBBLER (Krasnow) – Snag at door with Augie.
3:18 - EXCITEMENT UNDER DIALOGUE (Shaindlin) – Radio bulletin.
3:25 - GR-65 BUSH BABY (Green) – Snag begs at door to Augie, pretends to be rug.
4:23 - ‘FIREMAN’ (Shaindlin) – Daddy beats “rug.”
4:38 - GR-256 TOYLAND BURGLAR (Green) – Daddy smokes pipe, Snag zooms out of frame.
5:03 - LFU-117-2 MAD RUSH No 2 (Shaindlin) – Snag zooms under table, butt in pail, Augie beats rug.
5:31 - C-C-F# Underscore (Wheeler?) – Cop car pulls up, Daddy answers door.
5:49 - ‘FIREMAN’ (Shaindlin) – “Keep calm, sir,” Daddy jumps on Snag, Augie begs, Daddy with rifle.
6:26 - CB-83A MR TIPPY TOES (Cadkin-Bluestone) – Rifle in Snag’s face, Augie convinces Dad not to shoot him.
6:50 - PG-161 LIGHT COMEDY MOVEMENT (Green) – Augie on Snag’s back, “After all, how many kids...”
7:02 - GR-77 CUSTARD PIE CAPERS (Green) – “Got a real lion skin,” iris out.
7:10 - Augie Doggie End Title theme (Curtin).


  1. To be fair to Mike, the "Beat the crap out of the hiding guy" routine was actually his -- Bugs does it originally to Rocky in 1946's "Racketeer Rabbit", and Freleng held it over for Foster to use in "Bugs and Thugs" (Mugsy's addition here does make the latter an improvement on Maltese's original).

    The cartoon also seems to borrow a bit from "Rugged Bear", the original Humphrey cartoon Jack Hannah did with David Detiege at Disney (and which Detiege would recycle the same year this cartoon came out as the decidedly less-funny "What's My Lion?")

  2. Thanks, J.L. I forgot about that part. I remember Bugs taking the trunk up and down the stairs. The "curtains" gag is my favourite in that one.

    1. My favorite part too. It's adorable.

    2. Mine as well (from "Racketeer Rabbit, 1946):"Oh, they're adorble"-E/G/Robinson-type crook.Steve C