Saturday, 19 November 2016

Snagglepuss in Diaper Desperado

Produced and Directed by Bill Hanna and Joe Barbera.
Credits: Animation – Bob Bentley, Layout – Jack Huber, Backgrounds – Neenah Maxwell, Written by Mike Maltese, Story Director – Alex Lovy, Titles – Art Goble, Production Supervision – Howard Hanson.
Voice Cast: Snagglepuss – Daws Butler; Mailman, Big Hombre, Little Hombre, Telegram Delivery Boy – Don Messick. Music: Hoyt Curtin.
Episode: Production R-45.
Copyright 1961 by Hanna-Barbera Productions.
Plot: Snagglepuss babysits the son of a Western bad guy.

The orange, bad-guy Snagglepuss hung out in the Old West, so why can’t the pink, theatrical one? The first Snagglepuss pushed around Quick Draw McGraw. The later one got battered thanks to a bandit’s little son.

Unlike a lot of cartoons, the boy in this one isn’t one of those “mean widdle kids” who’s talkative and sadistic. He can’t speak English, but it’s clear he’s capable of handling a gun.

The cartoon’s pretty basic. A wanted Western bad guy who has decided to rob a bank orders Snagglepuss to take care of his son while he’s gone. As you might guess, everything backfires. Snagglepuss gets crushed by a falling rock after shoving the kid out of the way (one of the lines on the rock disappears during the cycle animation).

Next, Snagglepuss tries to train the boy to be a Western TV star. A lesson in roping results in the youngster capturing a real bull that butts the mountain lion into a butte.

Snagglepuss teaches the boy how to use a gun. But the lad is already well-versed. Snagglepuss runs off a cliff to escape the bullets. Finally, a goofy telegram boy delivers a message—the bad guy was captured during the bank robbery and Snagglepuss has to take care of his son until he gets out. The cartoon uses a routine from the Yogi Bear cartoon “Daffy Daddy” (1959) for its ending. The boy rides Snagglepuss like a horse, jabbing him with spurs on his feet. This prompts Snagglepuss to pun: “I ooch and ouch on the spur of the moment.”

Writer Mike Maltese lards up on the catchphrases in this cartoon. Here’s a healthy sampling:
“Heavens to bank balance!”
“Heavens to snapshot!”
“Heavens to safety pin!”
“Heavens to hamburger! It’s a real bull.”
“Heavens to Annie Oakley?”
“Heavens to chariots!”
“Heavens to papa! I’m apparently a parent.”

And, my favourite, after the rock falls on Snagglepuss:
“Heavens to vegetables! I’ve been squashed.”

And there’s more:
“Exit, back to the jungle, stage left.”
“Exit, for child welfare, stage right.”
“Exit, stampedin’ all the way, stage left.”
“Exit, cowardly matador fashion.”
“Exit, chickenin’ out, stage left.”

Bob Bentley’s exit animation is reused in the cartoon (in one case, the same drawings are inked but the cels are painted on the other side). Bentley has Snagglepuss’ feet running in one direction and his head pointed in another before everything faces the same way and the character zips off screen.

More catchphrases. I like the first play on words:
“Perish forfend! I was merely admirin’ your picture. As a fatter of mact, I’d like to order a dozen prints. Glossies, even!”
“Your youngin’? What youngin’, may I enquire? Ask, even.”
“Say, who do you think you’re talkin’ to? Pushin’ around, even.”
“Train ‘im to be a western TV star. Like Rock Crusher. Or Chuck Wagon, even.”

Maltese treats us to a poem from our hero, to wit:

Keep a word of cheer.
Lend a helpin’ hand.
I will dry your tear.
I will understand.

And my favourite line of the cartoon: “Fast on the draw, slow on the sympathy. It is your job to send me to Leavenworth. Or is it Twelveworth?”

Maltese tosses in a cross-reference, as one of Snagglepuss’ injuries moves him to quote Quick Draw McGraw, remarking “Oooh. That smarts.”

As story director, I gather Alex Lovy was responsible for timing. Lovy isn’t really all that expressive with his timing. Here’s a good example. Below are two drawings (an in-between is missing) of an eye-take. Bentley’s animation is okay, but Lovy times everything evenly. Each drawing is exposed two times, meaning the take isn’t much of a take. The timing’s not exaggerated so we don’t see the second drawing longer for better impact.

Neenah Maxwell, the daughter of former MGM production manager Max Maxwell, is the background painter. I got a little lazy and didn’t count how many backgrounds were painted for this cartoon, but one with mountains in the distance got a good workout. And here is the opening background with a mailbox and a blue cave on overlays.

The sound cutter used familiar Hoyt Curtin music from the other short cartoons produced around this time, as well as a cue or two heard on The Flintstones. Nothing stands out, and Curtin’s Western themes are ignored for whatever reason.

1 comment:

  1. Snag is really up there with Mr. Jinx as one of the funniest HB guys. HB was good with cats! No offense Yowp! They may have had good luck from a comedy perspective with cats but of course they made more money with dogs!