Saturday, 26 April 2014

Quick Draw McGraw — El Kabong Was Wrong

Produced and Directed by Joe Barbera and Bill Hanna.
Credits: Animation – Hicks Lokey; Layout – Paul Sommer; Backgrounds – Vera Hanson; Written by Mike Maltese; Story Director – Alex Lovy; Titles – Art Goble; Production Supervision – Howard Hanson.
Voice Cast: Quick Draw McGraw, Baba Looey, Sheriff – Daws Butler; Old Injun Fighter, Cactus Cecil, Bank Teller, Villain – Don Messick; Lily Belle, Paperboy – Jean Vander Pyl.
Music: Hoyt Curtin.
First Aired: 1961-62 season.
Plot: Cactus Cecil tricks El Kabong into letting him rob a bank.

Note: Howard Fein has identified the animator in this cartoon as Lew Marshall. I thought Marshall was a Story Director by this time but the animation doesn’t look like Lokey’s. I’ll take Howard’s expert word for it.

Everyone thinks of “Death Valley Days” as being hosted by Ronald Reagan. Fair enough because, after all, he was later President of the United States and you can’t get a much higher profile than that. But, when the show arrived on TV in 1952, the story-teller was The Old Ranger, who appeared at the beginning of the show to introduce “another interesting true story.” In “El Kabong Was Wrong,” writer Mike Maltese borrows that concept, and the cartoon is narrated by The Old Injun Fighter, who takes the audience into his confidence throughout.

That’s the only new gimmick in this cartoon. It features familiar-looking incidental characters and the Maltese staples—catchphrases, an incorrect costume change, Baba lipping off Quick Draw and backtracking, ridiculous echoing dialogue, lots of kabongging—but it all adds up to a funny cartoon, despite the familiarity.

The bad guy in this tale is Cactus Cecil, “the meanest, toughest hombre that ever slapped leather or robbed a bank” the Old Injun Fighter tells us. Cut to Cecil in a bank where he repeats the line. But nothing could be further from the truth. Cecil is puny, has a meek voice and absolutely no one pays attention to him, including the bank teller, who sings to himself about Cactus Nell instead. “Do I get the money or must I count to ten?” Cecil asks. He’s completely ignored. “If I count to 127, will you give me the loot?” he pathetically asks. The sheriff grabs him and tells him to go play outside. “Oh, pshaw!” cries Cecil in frustration, which he does periodically during the cartoon.

Now the Old Injun Fighter introduces another scene. There’s the typical caped melodrama villain with Don Messick’s Norton South voice and Lily Belle, who has the same design and costume as Texas Tillie in “Gun Shy Gal” the previous season. He wants her to marry up with him so he can steal her ranch legally. She cries for El Kabong. You know what happens next. After being kabongged, the bad guy makes a run for it. “San Francisco, open up your golden gate,” he yells.

“Extry, extry! El Kabong runs villain,” yells a paperboy. Pan to Cactus Cecil holding his gun at the boy. “I’ll take a paper, boy. Of course, this is a stick up.” The paperboy doesn’t even give him any respect. “The price is still a nickel,” the kid tells the would-be robber. “Take it or leave it.” Another “Oh, pshaw!” from Cactus Cecil and it’s a fade into the next scene.

Cecil reads a classified ad in the paper from El Kabong offering his services to females in distress. That gives him an idea. He puts on a dress and a wig to masquerade as a “helpless-appearing little old lady.” He robs the bank. “Come back here with that money, you helpless-appearin’ little old lady,” yells the bank teller in pursuit. He cries for help from El Kabong. “That sounds like a helpless-appearing little old lady in distress,” remarks Baba. “Undisturb yourself, helpless-appearing little old lady,” says Quick Draw, who vanishes to return as El Kabong—after first appearing as a kid on a tricycle. And just as Cecil hoped, El Kabong kabongs the bank teller. “I don’t know how to thank you, Mr. Kabong,” says the disguised Cecil. “Oh, shucks, m’am, uh, just knit me a holster.”

The teller has a lump on his head as he brings in the sheriff. “I don’t believe it,” says the sheriff. “El Kabong has turned outlaw and took up with that helpless-appearin’ little old lady who is really Cactus Cecil in disguise.” “You just scurry off on your helpless-appearing little old legs,” Quick Draw tells Cecil, and yells “Hold on thar!” at the sheriff, who shoots him in the hoof. “Oooh, that does that ever smart,” says Quick Draw. He had “I’ll do the thin’in’ around here” earlier in the cartoon, so Maltese fit in all the catchphrases.

The sheriff clues in El Kabong about the identity of the helpless-appearing little old lady and threatens him with the El Kaboose if he doesn’t get the money back. “There’s nothin’ I hate worse than bein’ in jail,” says Quick Draw after he kabongs Cecil and runs off with the sack of cash. Maltese has a quick series of little gags here. Cecil chops a huge redwood (in the middle of the Western desert?) onto Quick Draw, then uses scissors to snip his rope. Fortunately, the sheriff breaks the fall of our plummeting hero. The sheriff’s had enough. “‘Don’t go west,’ my mother said. ‘You’ll get hurt,’ she said. Bu would I listen? No, not me. You was right, mom. Your boy is a-comin’ home.” But it turns out Cecil isn’t free to run away. In a familiar ending, Baba Looey’s hiding in the bag of money and makes the arrest. “Oh, phsaw!” we hear for a final time.

So it’s time for the Old Injun Fighter to wrap up today’s programme. But he’s got a surprise guest—El Kabong and Baba Looey. He asks Quick Draw to explain how he goofed. The old guy gets kabonged instead. “If there’s anythin’ I cain’t stand, it’s an Old Indian Fighter tattle-tale,” says the annoyed Quick Draw. Baba adds a superfluous and not funny line because, well, Baba has to end every cartoon by saying something.

Maltese’s song lyrics for the bank teller:

I’ll never forget the day I fell for Cactus Nell.
Sitting on a thumb tack made me tall in the saddle.
Oh, I won’t be at the roundup, Nelly, because I’m such a square.

And for Quick Draw:

Oh, I’m a lonesome cowboy
Because the girls don’t like my face.

As for the real music, Hoyt Curtin’s western clip-clop opens the cartoon. An up-tempo piano/xylophone version of “The Arkansas Traveller” accompanies the villain trying to force Lily Belle to marry him. The Flintstones’ “Bridge” is heard as the villain gets away from El Kabong, while the minor-key flute melody line of the Flintstone theme is used under the newspaper scene. And part of the Wally Gator xylophone running music shows up when the disguised Cecil tries to get away with the money. And the cutter found a use for the Dixieland version of “That’s Quick Draw McGraw” during the chase scene. The only Curtin music that isn’t familiar is a Latin-flavour cue when the sheriff has to explain to Quick Draw who the helpless-appearing little old lady is.


  1. “The Old Ranger” / “The Old Injun Fighter”, eh?

    It never ceases to amaze me how many television references get worked into the classic-era Hanna-Barbera cartoons! I’ve seen this one many times, including (Glory-Be!) on official, non-bootleg DVD, and never got that one.

    Just like Warner’s theatrical cartoons, and their almost uncountable Golden Age Hollywood film references, H-B did the same type of tributing to their OWN medium, fifties and sixties era television.

    Never mind the obvious one’s like “The Honeymooners”, “Candid Camera”, “Perry Mason”, “Bonanza”, “Gunsmoke”, “Bat Mouseterson …I mean Masterson”, and “Bewitched”, it’s the more obscure ones (perhaps obscure, even back then) that amaze me…

    Snooper and Blabber’s “Chilly Chiller” opening parodying “Boris Karloff Presents Thriller” (Funny, I got the “Alfred Hitchcock Presents” opening parody Snoop and Blab did previously – but not this one, until much later), and on The Flintstones where “Boulder’s Rule” was “Burke’s Law”, and “Boney Hurdle” was “Stony Burke”!

    There’s always some new piece of information to find around here! And that’s the best kind of Blog there is! Thanks for all of it!

  2. I also recognize the Lew Marshall's animation on this Quick Draw McGraw episode.
    I agree with Howard Fein.

  3. The Arkansas Traveller - THANK YOU. I always wondered what that tuen was called.

  4. Wasn't Robert Taylor the host of ''Death Valley Days''?

  5. I've hunted high and low but can't find online an audio or video clip that includes the line "I'll do the thinnin around here"....know where one is?

  6. Anon, I've reviewed some cartoons which have it. I don't know if video of any of them is online.