Saturday, 5 April 2014

Snooper and Blabber — Gem Jams

Produced and Directed by Bill Hanna and Joe Barbera.
Credits: Animation – John Boersma, Layout – Walt Clinton, Backgrounds – Fernando Montealegre, Written by Mike Maltese, Story Director – Lew Marshall, Titles – Art Goble; Production Supervision – Howard Hanson.
Voice Cast: Snooper, Blabber, J. Richley Richley – Daws Butler; Hazel – Jean Vander Pyl; Grimes, Circus Barker – Don Messick.
Music: Hoyt Curtin.
First Aired: 1961-62 season.
Plot: Snooper finds a millionaire’s butler is shrinking himself to steal gems.

Mike Maltese puts together some variations on some of his old favourites in this story. There were several cartoons featuring fleas and a couple involving gems thieves. “Flea For All” (1960-61 season) combined the two. And there were a couple of Quick Draw cartoons where the bad guy declared he was off for “jolly fun” or a “jolly time.” Well, the bad guy does the same thing here. So what we get is a bunch of teeny flea-like silhouettes fighting with regular-sized objects in a regular-sized world—like below.

Except the flea-like silhouettes are Snooper, Blabber and the bad guy.

There’s no office door with an eyeball on its window, no Duffy’s Tavern-like opening rhyme from Snoop when he answers the phone in this cartoon. He and Blab are riding a bike. Their car has been repossessed. They must still have an office as Hazel, their secretary, is yelling at them (their phone is disconnected) about a job. Monte is the background artist in this cartoon; I like his trees in the opening scene.

So off they go to the mansion of J. Richley Richley, with Blab doing his “sireen” impression. “Try not to look hungry, Blab,” Snoop advises. Richley answers the doorbell. “That must be those two-bit private eyes,” he grumbles in an English accent that sounds somewhat like James Mason. “All the good ones are out of town.” Here’s part of a background of the Richley mansion.

“You sent for us, I take it? Or we wouldn’t be here, would we?” asks Blab, who’s a dullard in this one. Richley suspects his butler, Grimes, is stealing his gems, even though Snooper assures him “the only times the butler did it is in those old, old movies on the late, late show.” Here’s a pan of the fabulous gem collection.

So our heroes pose as window washers to keep an eye on Grimes, “even though this ain’t the Late, Late Show.” In the next scene, Snooper spots a clue; “something we missed before.” Well, it was pretty easy to miss it as it wasn’t on the background drawing above—footprints getting smaller and leading into a mouse hole. “Hark, as they say,” remarks Blab, and the scene cuts to Grimes drinking some kind of potion to shrink so that he can get under the door of the vault to steal another gem and run into the mouse hole with it for safe keeping. “Soon, I’ll have the ‘hole ruddy lot. Then it’s me to the Orkney Islands for a jolly time,” exclaims Grimes.

“Okay, Blab, go after him,” orders Snoop, handing the bottle of potion to Blabber. “You’re askin’ me to drink that stuff, Snoop?” “Socially, I would ask you. But, officially, it’s an order.” So Blab drinks the stuff and shrinks. Don’t ask why it is Blab is a mouse but he has to shrink to be able to fit through a mouse hole. Anyway, Grimes has a gun that he can somehow lift despite his extremely small size. In fact he’s about the third the size of Blabber but when the fight scenes take place, the two (and Snooper, who has shrunk himself to come to the rescue) are all the same size.

“Stop in the name of the Private Eye Institute Fife and Drum Corps,” yells Snoop. There’s a fight scene with the characters in little silhouettes. Snooper is tossed into a fish bowl (with water but no fish) by Grimes who tries to grab the potion to grow back to full size. Wait. The potion makes you shrink AND grow? How? Oh, well. Best not to ask. Blabber stops Grimes from reaching it by knocking him out with a golf ball in a perfectly swung drive. But then booby Blab throws the bottle of potion through the window. They can’t grow back. And when Snooper and Blabber try to collect their $50,000 reward (Grimes is now taller than Blabber), Richley thinks they’re fleas and tries to kill them with a fly-swatter. Snooper, Blabber and Grimes retreat under the door.

The potion won’t wear off for six weeks. So they do the only thing they can. Become an act in a flea circus, with Blab somersaulting in the air between Grimes and Snooper. “It was either this or go to the dogs,” exclaims Snoop. Blab gets the pun and snickers as the iris closes to end the cartoon. You’ll notice a sign says “Fink’s Flea Circus.” No doubt Maltese recalled years earlier in vaudeville there was a popular act called Fink’s Mules that toured for decades.

Hoyt Curtin’s music works well here. The cutter uses a jaunty little march during the scene at Richley’s door. There’s also a version of “Man on the Flying Trapeze” when the circus barker is shilling that was used in a number of H-B cartoons about this time, followed by the xylophone version of “Over the Waves.” You’ll recognise the “hurry” music from “Top Cat” during the fight scene.


  1. Snoop's nose flickers from white to black in the opening bicycle scene. How do Grimes and Blab fire the revolver as fleas? Why is Richley wearing an ascot and robe, but no pants?

  2. Hey Yowp, here's a write up with some information on John Boersema at Hanna Barbera.
    Even though it's about events pertaining to 1978, it's still interesting to read.

    1. Thanks, Z. Gotta love Darrell McNeil's enthusiasm.

  3. Walter Clinton, who was involved in the layouts from this Snooper & Blabber episode, also was involved, at this same season (1961-62), in the layouts from The Flintstones, Top Cat, the classical Yogi Bear Show (more exactly, in the Yogi Bear and Snagglepuss segments) and the Loopy de Loop theatrical shorts.
    And there's one more detail to remark at the beggining from this episode: Snooper & Blabber appear riding of bike, equal how it was in the episode Observant Servants (whose topic you reported on your blog).

    1. Walter Clinton, at this same season (1961-62), also was involved in the layouts of the Hokey Wolf episodes from The Huckleberry Hound Show.
      John Kricfalusi, on his site (, included some snapshots from the Hokey Wolf episodes which bring the Walter Clinton's designs.