Saturday, 27 July 2013

Snooper and Blabber — Ala-Kazoop!

Produced and Directed by Joe Barbera and Bill Hanna.
Credits: none. Layout – Tony Rivera(?), Backgrounds – Fernando Montealegre, Story – Mike Maltese, Story Direction – Alex Lovy, Titles – Art Goble, Production Supervision – Howard Hanson.
Voice Cast: Snooper, Blabber, Inspector O’Lenihan – Daws Butler; Hypno – Don Messick.
Music: Phil Green, Jack Shaindlin, Clarence Wheeler?
First aired: week of March 20, 1961.
Episode: Quick Draw McGraw Show M-027, Production J-80.
Plot: Snooper and Hypno the Magician battle for control of Blabber and the Royal Bujang Ruby.

This cartoon may remind you a bit of “Transylvania 6-5000” when Bugs Bunny and Count Bloodcount use magic words to turn each other into different things. However, it was released a few years after this cartoon (actually, the Bugs-opponent-magic scenario was used by Tedd Pierce in the Warners cartoon “Knight-Mare Hare,” released in 1955).

Mike Maltese’s story is a little different, where Snooper and jewel thief Hypno both use hypnotic words to put Blabber in a trance. Actually, Snoop just uses them to make Blabber normal. Hypno’s words only put Blab in a trance part of the time; he’s an aggressive villain the rest of the time.

This was the first Snooper and Blabber cartoon put into production for the 1960-61 season. The takes drawn by Hanna-Barbera’s animators were rarely extreme to begin with. They were becoming positively tame by fall 1960. The versions of this cartoon I have seen have no credits so I can’t positively identify the animator. But here are the drawings used for the Blabber transformation. They’re not very outrageous. They’re accompanied by the Hanna-Barbera Rubber Band sound effects.

There are only two incidental characters, both with pipe-stem legs that Tony Rivera loved—Hypno, and the Irish cop with the usual Daws Butler brogue.

The simple backgrounds remind me of Monte’s later work (see the buildings in the Augie Doggie cartoon “Little Wonder”). There appear to be 12 backgrounds in this cartoon, including a long, repeating street that’s used for a good portion of the middle of the cartoon, though Rivera (if it’s him) breaks up the monotony a bit by cutting to a section of the street on an angle. The cartoon opens with 13 seconds of no animation. It’s merely a shot of the outside of Snooper’s office door. Unlike a number of openings, there’s no private eyeball on the door. Instead, it’s on the second background drawing on what I presume is a diploma.

The phone rings. Snoop answers like Archie on “Duffy’s Tavern” as usual. “Snooper Detective Agency. When others don’t give a hoot, give ‘em the boot. We’ll find the loot. So shoot.” No loot in this case. An unheard woman offers Snooper $37,000 for the “recoverance” of the Royal Bujang Ruby. Bujang, as best as I can tell, is in Malaysia. Maltese sets up a surprise. There’s a knock at the door. Snooper thinks it’s Blabber. It’s Inspector O’Lenihan. He’s looking for the ruby, too.

Inspector: You’re not foolin’ me a-tall, a-tall, a-tall.
Snooper: Not a-tall?
Inspector: Not a-tall.

The inspector knows Blab has stolen the ruby and when the “worthless assistant” arrives, shakes it out of him. When Blab protests he doesn’t know how he got it, the scene cuts to Hypno at the door. Hypno puts into a trace. Maltese evidently thought it’d be funny not to have Blab in a dreamy voiced, arms-held-in-front cliché the whole time he’s under Hypno’s spell, so he turns him into a bad guy who shoots at Snoop, grabs the ruby and makes off behind Hypno.

“Folly me. Just as I elementaried,” Snoop tells the inspector. “It’s all here in my Enemies Directory under ‘h’.” Snoop gives a succinct summary of the situation—that Hypno wants revenge on Snoop for sending him to jail and Hypno’s the only person who can hypnotise Blab with the word “Ala-Kazoop,” with Blab none the wiser that he’s under a spell.

Snooper: Give me 24 hours and 15 minutes and I’ll get the ruby back.
Inspector: What’s the 15 minutes for?
Snooper: I gotta have lunch, don’t I?

The next half of the cartoon starts with Snooper (in silhouette) in his car, a bullhorn on top. Snoop and Hypno spend the sequence battling for control of Blab’s mind (and the ruby), Snoop saying “A private eye is an honest guy” (The Private Eye Institute’s slogan) and Hypno countering with “Ala-kazoop!”

Snoop wins the battle, thanks to headphones over Blab’s ears blocking out any sound. Well, temporarily. Hypno pulls a gun and Maltese pulls an old dialogue gag. “What did he say, Snoop?” asks Blabber. “He said ‘give ‘em the ruby’,” replies Blab. “Oh. If you say so, Snoop,” and, with that, Blab hands Hypno the gem. Hypno doesn’t get away with it. Turnabout works in this cartoon. When Blab says “Ala-kazoop,” it puts Hypno under his spell. The bad guy is caught. Alas, Snoop doesn’t get a chance to use his “Stop in the name of the Private Eye (fill in the blank)” catchphrase in this cartoon.

The cartoon winds up with a variation on the “Big Shot Blab” premise. Blab tried ordering Snooper around, this time by trying to turn him into a slave by shouting “Ala-kazoop.” Snooper goes through the animated motions (the mouth reminds me of Don Patterson’s work) but then reveals he was only faking.

Blab accepts his lot in life and cheerfully follows the order to get Snooper a hot dog. “Let’s face it. Super Snooper is a super-duper Ala-kazooper,” Blab tells us. I’m afraid that’s the best Maltese could come up with.

The music cues should be familiar in this one. We get the full version of what I think is Clarence Wheeler’s “Woodwind Capers.”

0:00 - Snooper and Blabber Main Title theme (Curtin, Hanna, Barbera).
0:16 - PG-168J FAST MOVEMENT (Green) – Shot of office door, Snoop answers phone.
0:24 - GR-76 POPCORN SHORT BRIDGE No 2 (Green) – “Give ‘em the boot…” Snoop on phone.
0:33 - GR-93 DRESSED TO KILL (Green) – “…reward for its recoverance?” O’Lenihan in office, shakes Blab, ruby falls to floor.
1:45 - GR-255 PUPPETRY COMEDY (Green) – Hypno at door, Blab steals ruby, leaves with Hypno.
2:35 - EXCITEMENT UNDER DIALOGUE (Shaindlin) – “Sure’n I’m hopin’…” Snoop and O’Lenihan look at book.
3:15 - LFU-117-1 MAD RUSH No 1 (Shaindlin) – Snoop in car, Blab snaps out of trace.
3:48 - C-C-F# Underscore (Wheeler?) – Snooper points, battle of the trances, “Blab can’t hear you.”
5:34 - tick tock/flute music (Shaindlin) “You mumbled something…” Hypno becomes slave, “Will do, Snoop.”
6:17 - GR-93 DRESSED TO KILL (Green) – Snoop and Blab in office, Snoop fakes being hypnotised.
6:47 - GR-77 CUSTARD PIE CAPERS (Green) – Blab walks, cartoon fades out.
7:00 - Snooper and Blabber End Title theme (Curtin).


  1. Looks a little bit like Gerald Baldwin's work, based on the eye and facial angles on the takes, but I wouldn't be the rent money on that.

  2. It seems that, in terms of animation, this Snooper & Blabber episode was animated by Dick Lundy.

  3. J.L., Baldwin was long gone by then. And I'd rather not guess.

    1. I thought Baldwin had at least one 1960 H-B credit, but I wasn't sure on the time line on his departure (plus, I really needed the rent money with the first of the month coming up...)