Saturday, 15 June 2013

Snooper and Blabber — De-Duck-Tives

Produced and Directed by Bill Hanna and Joe Barbera.
Credits: Animation – Carlo Vinci; Layout – Paul Sommer; Backgrounds – Dick Thomas; Story – Mike Maltese; Story Director – Alex Lovy; Titles – Art Goble; Production Supervision – Howard Hanson.
Voice Cast: Snooper, Blabber, J.B. Sportley – Daws Butler; Duck – Red Coffey.
Music: Phil Green, Jack Shaindlin.
First Aired: 1961?
Episode: Quick Draw McGraw Show M-030, Production J-92.
Plot: Snooper and Blabber hunt for a rare Tralfazian duck.

Oh, no. Not that duck again!

Well, not only is the future Yakky Doodle constantly bawling for his mama more than a Connie Francis song in this cartoon, he’s incredibly stupid as well. He can’t tell the difference between his own mother and a wooden decoy, or a mouse with a feather-duster for a tail spouting Al Jolson.

So it is that Mike Maltese takes the endless parental caterwauling of the duck and turns it into a central point of a cartoon. And, as usual, a character who has a chance to put the feathery thing out of its misery doesn’t have the heart to do it. And, also as usual, Maltese embroiders the story with funny turns-of-phrase and gets bonus points for incorporating everyone’s favourite word “Tralfaz” into the cartoon.

Oh, we get Carlo Vinci, too. Not the really quirky Carlo of 1958. But the studio’s workload hasn’t knocked all the distinctiveness out of him. Here’s one his famous big sideways mouths.

And here’s a stretched-dive exit by the duck.

You’ll notice the duck in this cartoon is green. Paul Sommer, the layout designer in this cartoon, also made him green in another cartoon that season, Augie Doggie’s “Let’s Duck Out” where, yet again, Little Biddy Buddy was whining for his mother.

Maltese’s opening is pretty standard. There’s an opening shot of the private eyeball, this time on a window. Snoop answers the phone with a rhyme like Archie the Bartender on Duffy’s Tavern: “Snooper Detective Agency, forget your blues, we’ll find the clues.” As usual, Blab makes an aside to the audience about detective work while the phone call is in progress. This one is: “The mark of a good private eye is to make the most of an opportunity.” That’s because Snoop has been offered $30,000 for a duck. Snoop responds with “What’ll ya give me for two elephants?”

The next scene is in the “featheralistic” trophy room of J.B. Sportley, who has the English hunter’s voice (and moustache) from the popular Yowp cartoons. Perhaps because Yowp failed to catch a duck two years earlier, Sportley had hired Snooper and Blabber to capture a rare Tralfazian duck, discernible by its distinctive quack. The name “Tralfaz” was later recycled on The Jetsons as Astro’s original name, but has a long animated history, going back to the Snafu cartoons made during the war at Warners.

Snoop and Blab park themselves in a lake with a “genuine imitiation” decoy. Enter the little green duck, wailing for its mama. Snooper has to rescue his decoy after the stupid duck takes off with it, mistaking it for his mother (“I’m excruciated with joy,” Snooper facetiously says, after Proto-Yakky asks him if he’s happy to see the duck reunited with his mother). “Leave us retrench to our cabin,” Snoop says to Blab and that’s where the rest of the cartoon takes place.

“We’ll try it again at the crackle of dawn,” says Snoop. There’s a knock at the door. “Be hasty pudding and see who it is,” he tells Blab. Guess who? The pathetic duck wants to say goodbye to his mama. Snooper kicks him out, but he comes back through the chimney and wants “mama” to tell him a bedtime story. “Leave me tell one,” says the annoyed Snoop. “Once-t upon a time there was a pesky duck who was put out of the house.” Snooper drops him out the door. “And Snoop lived happily ever after. Heh heh. Chuckle, chuckle.” Cut to the pissed off duck on the porch. “Aw, I don’t like that story at all, at all, at all.”

The duck comes back in and steals the blanket from the bed where Snooper and Blabber are sleeping (still wearing their trench coats and hats) because “mama” is cold (the duck first stands on its head and wiggles its toes for the decoy). Snooper’s had enough. He clues in the clueless duck that his mama is made of wood. With the soothing strings of Phil Green’s “And They All Lived Happily Ever After” playing in the background, Hanna-Barbera’s King of Self-Pity starts crying. But wait! He’s crying like a rare Tralfazian duck, worth “30 thousand grand dollars” dead. To quote Mike Maltese’s dialogue from a famous Warners’ cartoon: Now’s your chance, Hawkeye—Shoot ‘im, shoot ‘im!! But no. Sentimental Snoop decides to forego the money and “give the broken-hearted little trike a live mother.” Cut to the final scene where Blab is poorly disguised as a duck. “Climb upon my knee, Sonny Boy,” says Blab. If the duck can be convinced a wooden figure is his mother, he can be convinced by Blabber’s disguise that even Mr. Magoo should be able to see through. Blab gets kissed by the duck and avoids the temptation of breaking into something the Al Jolson song book.

“Sometimes, bein’ a private eye assistant has its compensations,” he tells us as the closing iris signals it’s time for the pre-Yakky to appear on another H-B episode before changing colour and getting his own series.

The sound-cutter doesn’t generally change cues in mid-scene. However, he back-times the woodblock-and-flute music so it ends with the cartoon.

A late Yowp note: Mark Evanier reports that “Daws told me that Snooper's voice was more inspired by character actor Tom D'Andrea...but a little by Ed Gardner.” Well, you can’t disagree with the guy who invented the voice. D’Andrea was on “The Life of Riley” TV show and if you have a chance to see any old episodes, you can hear he and Snooper have similar vocal qualities. But anyone familiar with Duffy and the show’s writing will notice the similarities there, too. I thank Mark again for his always helpful knowledge. There’s always something to learn.

0:00 - Snooper and Blabber Main Title theme (Curtin, Hanna, Barbera).
0:24 - GR-93 DRESSED TO KILL (Green) – Office scene, Sportly conversation scene.
1:38 - GR-90 THE CHEEKY CHAPPIE (Green) – Snoop and Blab in boat, duck shows up, Snooper shoots rifle.
2:56 - SIX DAY BICYCLE RACE (Shaindlin) – Decoy rescue scene.
3:18 - GR-155 PARKS AND GARDENS (Green) – Snoop reads paper, kicks out duck twice.
4:28 - GR-453 THE ARTFUL DODGER (Green) – Snoop in bed scene, “Check!”
5:44 - GR-459 AND THEY ALL LIVED HAPPILY EVER AFTER (Green) – “That is a fake wooden duck,” Snoop promises duck will get a mother.
6:32 - tick tock/flute music (Shaindlin) – Blab is mommy duck.
7:09 - Snooper and Blabber End Title theme (Curtin).


  1. Did anyone else find the ending pretty screwy here? The Super Snooper, who would sell his own wishbone if it was worth $30,000, taking a complete "u-hoo-turn" for a duck? :P

  2. Not at all, Chris. Snooper succumbed to the charms of the duck, just like those untolled people on the internet who think he's a great character and don't understand why I dislike him.