Saturday, 20 June 2015

Snagglepuss in Royal Ruckus

Produced and Directed by Joe Barbera and Bill Hanna.
Credits: Animation – Don Patterson, Layout – Paul Sommer; Backgrounds – Dick Thomas; Written by Mike Maltese; Story Director – Alex Lovy; Titles – Art Goble; Production Supervision – Howard Hanson.
Voice Cast: Narrator, Guard, Snagglepuss – Daws Butler; Count Down, King – Don Messick; Queen – Bea Benaderet.
Music: Hoyt Curtin.
Episode: Production R-10 (sixth Snagglepuss cartoon).
Copyright 1961 by Hanna-Barbera Productions.

Snagglepuss started out life as a world-weary and somewhat show-bizzy antagonist who was clearly smarter than Quick Draw McGraw and the others he took on. It was obvious he was a rounded character that the studio could do more with. But when they gave him his own series, he became a protagonist, so he had to undergo a personality (and colour) modification. He changed from orange to pink and became more enthusiastically theatrical, leaning on the Shakespearean side.

That kind of characterisation was perfect in the hands of Mike Maltese. One of the funniest Bugs Bunny cartoons ever made was Maltese’s Rabbit Hood, where Bugs adopts a Shakespearean vocabularistic style as he easily outsmarts the Sheriff of Nottingham. Besides the natural silliness of streams of Mock Macbeth coming from a pink mountain lion, Maltese added a punny twist. While Warren Foster would settle for more obvious plays on words like “I caught him bare-handed. Yogi Bear-handed, that is,” Maltese would take a pun a bit further. “Forsooth. And five-sooth, even,” Snagglepuss would remark.

In fact, such a remark came in Royal Ruckus, one of 32 cartoons in the Snagglepuss series. Its storyline is similar to Maltese’s Quick Draw McGraw cartoons. Snagglepuss dashes off stage to become a swordsman (he doesn’t change into the wrong costume by mistake; perhaps Maltese didn’t have time for that one in the story) and is so inept, the Queen has to rescue herself. At the beginning, there’s a rhyming narrator and the bad guy talks to the audience, like you’d find in an El Kabong cartoon.

Fun With Dialogue:
● Snagglepuss recites a little poem. “ ‘Cause it’s the day to be happy and gay,” he declares. Today’s audience will read something into it.
● The King shoots Snagglepuss in the butt with an arrow. “Got him on the first shot. Just inches from the heart,” exudes His Majesty.

● “You unmitigated churl!” Snagglepuss yells in response at the King.
● Snagglepuss demands proof he’s the King. “Make me a Duke. Or a Count. The Prince of Wales. Or Porpoises, even.”
● The kidnapped Queen cries for help from a carriage after the King promises her liberator will be “royally rewarded.” “Won’t somebody save me and royally rewarded thereon?” asks the Queen.
● Snagglepuss makes a quick change into a musketeer outfit. “Exit, touché-in’ all the way, stage left!” (Hmm. Remind you of a certain turtle?)
● My favourite line from Snagglepuss, reminiscent of one in a Bugs Bunny cartoon: “Drop that Queen, Jack!”
● Yes, Snagglepuss fits in a “Heavens to Murgatroyd!” and “...and all that jazz.”

Sight gag:
● Snagglepuss engages in eager sword play with Count Down. Cut to shots of the Count sitting in a chair then another shot of him drinking tea, ignoring the whole situation.

The animator is Don Patterson. It’s really not one of his better cartoons, but you can’t miss his bit lip and triangular closed eye lids.

Dick Thomas is the background artist. Nice establishing shot to open the cartoon. Thomas’ swirling-line trees and scratchy grass are here, too.

The layout artist is Paul Sommer. He designed the secondary characters.

The voice actors are Daws Butler, Don Messick and Bea Benaderet. It’s probably her first non-Flintstones role for Hanna-Barbera.

Hoyt Curtin’s background music is really awkward in places. The use of a variation of the Flintstones’ “Rise and Shine” and what later became the series’ theme is really distracting. The Snagglepuss dying scene features a Flintstones’ cue called “Walking,” far too light and breezy for the action on the screen. And when the coach with the kidnapped Queen (in silhouette) goes into the castle, the soundtrack plays the heavyish “Working in the Gravel Pit” from The Flintstones. It’s times like this I miss the old Capitol Hi-Q library and Geordie Hormel’s English period music.


  1. Yabba-Dabba-Doo!! More cartoon reviews!! :) Thanks, Yowp.

    1. I second that emotion, to borrow Smokey Robinson (no relation to that bear in the forest ads)! But no credits..?

      And speaking of Yabba Dabba Doo, I wopuld like to see Flintstone reviews, or at least more appros, a whole DIFFERENT Yowp blog devoted just to that..SC

    2. Oh Yeah!-Georgi

  2. I think the Flinstones-y music during the sword-fight scenes just makes it funnier! But is is odd to hear some of these cues. After The Flintstones got it's more familiar theme song, the cues that inspired it showed up less often in non-Flintstones series.

    This is one of my favourites of the whole series. I love any episode that over-uses the word ROYAL!

  3. Of the final three of the 'Original 9" series from H-B, Snagglepuss was by far the strongest of the 'new' characters (and worth reviewing).

    Hokey and Ding-A-Ling were both too derivative of Yogi and Boo Boo and of every other Phil Silvers-based character Daws did to be truly memorable, though I suppose as a plug-in on the Huck show for the opening and closing segments, having a schemer character similar to Yogi made sense. As for the other series, we know where that came from and what some think about that character (a feeling I agree with -- if Fibber Fox or Ally Gator isn't in the cartoon to provide the comedy, there's no reason for it's existence).

    1. For all the talk about The Honeymooners, Joe and Bill must have loved Bilko just as much. I haven't tried counting the times Daws did the Silvers voice, but it must have been plenty. And that was before the studio reimagined Bilko as cats.
      At least one newspaper column states Hokey was descended from the wolf in the Yogi cartoon with the pigs. It was one of the best Yogi shorts and far funnier than anything Hokey did.

  4. For some reason, on mein own Tumblog, I imagine Snagglepuss for fanfic ends as a roving Anthony Bourdain/Charles Kuralt-model correspondent sending "postcards from the road."

  5. Delighted with a Snagglepuss review! This is one of the better ones. Some of the Snagglepuss cartoons are laugh out loud funny

    Thanks for continuing the tradition of Saturday cartoon reviews!

  6. Yowp:

    Can’t tell you how happy I am to see you push into new territory by reviewing this cartoon!

    Honestly, I feel your coverage of “Early Hanna-Barbera Cartoons” should extend to anything produced before 1965. To one extent or another, it’s all good until about then.

    In plot, this plays like something Maltese might have done with Daffy Duck in the ‘50s.

    Fibber Fox and Alfy Gator were two of H-B’s best supporting characters, and more than made up for the duck. Even when they weren’t there, Chopper was also an enjoyably-played loveable lug.

    Hokey and Ding were the perfect replacements for Yogi and Boo-Boo, on The Huckleberry Hound Show. They were “different”… but not “TOO different”, creating a level of comfort that was not quite as jarring as Yakky Doodle being swapped for Pixie, Dixie, and Mr. Jinks, along about 1965.

    I’ve always said that the prototypes for Hokey and Ding were from the Huck cartoon “Sheep Shape Sheepherder”.

    But, Snagglepuss was far and away the best of the series to debut in that group, thanks completely to Michael Maltese and Daws Butler!

  7. Nice inclusion of the Snagglepuss episodes (from the classical Yogi Bear Show) on your blog, "Yowp-Yowp"!