Saturday 11 March 2017

Snagglepuss in Twice Shy

Produced and Directed by Bill Hanna and Joe Barbera.
Credits: Animation - Phil Duncan, Layout - Jack Huber, Backgrounds - Bob Gentle, Written by Mike Maltese, Story Director - Paul Sommer, Titles - Art Goble, Production Supervision - Howard Hanson.
Voice Cast: Major, Sir Clyde, Charlie's Buddy, Dog Owner, Singinging Adventurer - Don Messick; Snagglepuss, Adventurer, Charlie, Dog, Singing Adventurer - Daws Butler.
Music: Hoyt Curtin.
Episode: Production R-39.
Copyright 1961 by Hanna-Barbera Productions.
Plot: Snagglepuss is freed by the Major's identical twin brother but keeps getting recaptured by the Major.

Confusion over identical twins was nothing unusual in a Snagglepuss cartoon. Mike Maltese used the plot device in One Two Many, when Lila couldn't figure out there was both a Snagglepuss and his scheming twin Snaggletooth. This time, Snagglepuss is on the receiving end, as Major Minor has an identical twin, one who abhors his brother's big-game hunting ways. Snagglepuss naturally mixes up the two of them until they both appear at the end of the cartoon (Lila never had such luck).

"Major! Celebration over already?" asks Snagglepuss when he sees the twin brother. Naturally, all Sir Clyde had to do was say "I'm not the Major," which would seem to be a logical response. But then we wouldn't have a cartoon, would we?

Maltese always tosses in punny dialogue between Snagglepuss and the Major and this one is no exception.

Major (to fellow adventurers): And, as he tried to escape, I raised my gun, and shot him where the Ubangi bends. Or was it where the jungle meets the sea?
Snagglepuss: Neether neither. Or eether either, Major. It was where the thigh bone ends, and where the shinbone meets the knee.

Incidentally, the Ubangi River does have a wide bend.

The plot is pretty straight forward, but my favourite moment in the cartoon has nothing to do with it. Major Minor has finally caught Snagglepuss and exhibits him in a cage at the Adventurers' Club (note the colour changes in the light effect in the centre of the frame). The adventurers throw a celebratory bash for him ("with dinner, a sing-along, and all that happy-type jazz"). Meanwhile, Sir Clyde lands in his yacht, and is determined to reform his brother of hunting. "I believe all animals should be freed and unfettered," he declares to an inquistive newspaper reporter. Just then he sees a dog on a leash. Clyde snips the leash with a pair of scissors. "You're free, doggie! Run, run, run!" "Whatever for?" snaps the annoyed dog, who jumps into his owner's arms. "I have a good thing going for me right here."

The rest of the cartoon is more amusing than funny. Sir Clyde keeps freeing Snagglepuss, who crashes the Major's party (on one occasion, enjoying his favourite dessert—kumquats jubilee), and the Major keeps caging him. Finally, Snagglepuss tries to run away from both and eventually realises there are two of them. ("Heavens to Murgatroyd! I've been playing with a pair of jokers!"). Clyde tells the Major grandpapa will cut him off ("without a crumpet") if he hunts any more wild game, so the Major reluctantly frees Snagglepuss. But Clyde agrees to stroke the Major's ego by taking a picture of the mighty hunter standing atop his prey (with the only animation being eye blinks) for about 36 frames. "This kind of shootin' I go for. Enjoy, even," Snagglepuss tells the TV audience at home as the iris closes to end the cartoon.

We get all of Snagglepuss’ catchphrases, including "Exit, droolin’ all the way, stage left" as he zips off camera to enjoy the banquet festivities.

Phil Duncan animated this cartoon. I presume he was hired on a freelance basis as he was employed at Playhouse Pictures around this time. Mike Kazaleh has mentioned Duncan animated the famous Winston spot on The Flintstones and was responsible for some of the first Huckleberry Hound cartoons-between-the-cartoons in the 1958-59 season (they’re rubbery with stretched mouth movements, and in full animation). The drawings aren’t as distinctive in this cartoon. Jack Huber handled layouts. An interesting one—unless it was on Maltese’s storyboard—was a shot of Snagglepuss with the adventurers in the foreground in silhouette. Silhouettes weren’t common in H-B cartoons. John Edward Huber was born in Chicago on May 6, 1914 and was employed at Disney by 1940. He died in Costa Mesa, California on May 12, 1998.

Bob Gentle’s backgrounds aren’t really showcased in this cartoon. His interiors for the Adventurers Club have plenty of Ionic pillars. There’s one establishing shot of the exterior of the Club used a couple of times.

Hoyt Curtin’s stock cues work well in this cartoon. None of them really stand out, and they’ll be familiar to Hanna-Barbera fans.

1 comment:

  1. "I love your sense of humour Major! Or is it the hot-buttered sarsaparilla?" I love how Snag' gets away with implying the Major is drunk with that line!