Saturday, 11 October 2014

Snooper and Blabber — Person to Prison

Produced and Directed by Joe Barbera and Bill Hanna.
Credits: Animation – Hicks Lokey, Layout – Jerry Eisenberg, Backgrounds – Art Lozzi, Written by Mike Maltese, Story Director – Alex Lovy, Titles – Art Goble, Production Supervision – Howard Hanson.
Voice Cast: Snooper, Blabber, George – Daws Butler; Warden, Quick Change Quentin – Don Messick.
Music: Hoyt Curtin.
First Aired: 1962.
Episode: Quick Draw McGraw Show M-043, Production J-134.
Plot: Snooper and Blabber try to stop Quick Change Quentin from escaping from Sing Song Prison.

If you want a good idea of how Mike Maltese’s mind worked, you can find it during the plot of this cartoon. Most cartoon writers would have a quick change artist turn into another person, or maybe an animal like a dog or a horse. Maltese has a quick change artist turn into a piece of rope. And it’s accepted as perfectly normal by the other characters. Maltese, at his best, could come up with something really off-the-wall like that.

This was the 45th and final Snooper and Blabber cartoon put into production. Maltese brings back Quick Change Quentin from the first season’s “Masquerader Raider,” though Jerry Eisenberg’s design for him is quite different than the one in the original cartoon (this is the second of two Snooper and Blabbers that Eisenberg worked on). And Maltese revisits the idea of Blab being promoted to a full-fledged detective by Snooper, as in “Eenie, Genie, Minie, Mo!” though he’s a lot less successful in this cartoon than that one.

The story in brief: Blab is promoted by Snooper, the two are called to stop Quick Change Quentin from breaking out of Sing Song Prison. Quentin disguises himself as a guard, a piece of rope, and then the Warden. The fake warden and real one are together. Snoop lets Blab pick the right one. Blab lets the disguised Quentin go free. For screwing up, the detectives are behind bars for 30 years. Iris out.

Some random musings about this one...
● There’s no shot of an office door or window with a private eyeball on it.
● Snoop doesn’t yell “Halt in the name of the Private Eye (fill-in-silly-name)!” at the criminal this time. We do get “Stop in the limb of the law!”
● Quentin has the higher pitch voice that Don Messick gave to a bunch of bad guys, like Norton South in the Quick Draw McGraw series.
● Snooper and Blabber run past the same gated door eight times, then nine times when chasing Quentin after he changes back from George the guard.
● What’s the history of comic/cartoon characters shouting a catchphrase before doing something? Was it Bud Collyer’s Superman saying “Up, up and away”? Here, Quentin exclaims “Kazoots!” before each quick change. He didn’t do that in his first appearance two years earlier.
● Quentin takes on the Warden’s voice (by Daws Butler) when he changes into the Warden. But when he changes into George the Guard, he keeps his own voice.
● Snooper and Blabber are both carrying, and firing, guns in this cartoon. Offhand, I don’t recall if Snooper was ever armed in another cartoon.
● The title is a play on the Edward R. Murrow TV show “Person to Person.”
● Another TV reference: Snoop looks at both wardens and says “Will the real warden please stand up?” Unless you know that’s from the game show “To Tell the Truth,” the instruction from host Bud Collyer to separate a real person from two imposters, you’d think it was odd because both wardens are standing (I promise this will be the last Bud Collyer reference today).
● Dialogue: Snoop – “Stop, Quick Change, or it’s solitary refinement for ya!” Quick Change – “These guys are harder to shake than wet salt.”
● More Dialogue: Blab, when first he sees Quentin – “That crook! He should be arrested!”
● Confusion about the criminal charge. Snooper – “What is it, Blab?” Blab – “A 708. Let’s go, Snoop.” Snooper – “Whaddya mean ‘Let’s go’? A ‘708’ is an elderly Boy Scout trapped in a pup tent in Mesopotamia.” Blab – “I’m sorry, Snoop. I mean a 709.” Snooper – “Rumour of a jail break at Sing Song Prison, eh? Oooh, that’s different. Now, let’s go!” (If there’s a “Mesopotamia” reference in an H-B cartoon, you can probably bet Maltese wrote it).
● In the post on the previous Quentin appearance, we showed you some of the drawings of how animator La Verne Harding got Quentin to change from one guise to the next. Hicks Lokey did it the same way in this cartoon—with a swirl of lines, one character disappearing and the other appearing.

● Blab finishes the cartoon as any prisoner would—playing “Red River Valley” on the harmonica. Snoop asks “Do ya think you’ll ever learn to play that thing?” Actually, Blab’s playing it very well. No doubt it’s one of Hoyt Curtin’s session musicians who was called in.

As for the rest of the music, you’ll recognise one of the fast urban chase cues from “Top Cat” when Quentin first appears in the cartoon. When Snoop and Blab start chasing Quentin, there’s a Flintstones cue that was used in “Dino Goes Hollywood” when Fred excitedly cries to Wilma that Dino has come home. The closing bit of music is a Flintstones cue called “Button” or “Extro.”


  1. This is one of the few S & B cartoons to have been released on DVD. It can be found on Saturday Morning Cartoons 1960s Volume 2, as part of the Quick Draw McGraw Show.

    If this is the final entry in the Snooper and Blabber series, they didn't appear in new animation again until the late 70's and early 80's--they appeared in the special "Yogi Bear's All Star Comedy Christmas Caper" and also were regularly featured in the series "Yogi's Treasure Hunt." I don't know of any other appearances in between. Hmm...wonder where they were all those years?

  2. On the Flintstones CD they call that closing bit "Quizzical Exit Fanfare".

  3. What do you call it when a recurring character changes appearance - Cartoon Plastic Surgery.

  4. One could almost say the ending of this, the last Snooper & Blabber short, is canonical since they end up in jail for 30 years and are in no position to take on any new cases.

    Kudos to Eisenberg for giving all the convicts 'realistic' prison garb- i.e. no stripes.

  5. 30 years is a little far fetched. They let them out in 1977 to participate in the Olympics in ''Laff-A-Lympics''. Guess they weren't up for parole at the time of ''Yogi's Gang''.

    Harsh..How many years do they get for letting a criminal, who doesn't look the way he did in his previous appearance, get away?

  6. Interesting that there';s no spoof of "Person to Person the TV show set in prison ("and now, here's some experts on keeping crooks from escaping-"Snoop and Bl;ab, that is..). Since both Bugs, Elmer (in his last appearance with A.Q.Bryan';s voice) and Daffy (who, a la Fred Flintstone in "Hollyrock Here I Come", an early episode in Season 1, in one of his better latter day moments, loses his voice due to stage fright) in "Person to Bunny" (Friz Freleng) and Alvin and the Chimpunks and David Seville in a brief interstitial bit in the era's "The Alvin Show" did apiece an actual spoof of "Person to Person", certainly the title of this very last produced S&B short would suggest that it's an inside look at prison, even at some prisoners, from an Edward R.Murrow-inspired commentator.:)Steve C.

    1. Two more animated parodies of Person to Person I can think of are the last theatrical Mister Magoo short, "Terror Faces Magoo", and King Features' Krazy Kat TV cartoon, "Network Nitwit".