Sunday, 9 July 2017

Snagglepuss in Remember the Daze

Produced and Directed by Bill Hanna and Joe Barbera.
Credits: Animation – Bill Keil, Layout – Walt Clinton, Backgrounds – Dick Thomas, Written by Mike Maltese, Story Director – Paul Sommer, Titles – Art Goble, Production Supervision – Howard Hanson.
Voice Cast: Snagglepuss, Dinner Emcee, Turner Backwards – Daws Butler; Major Minor, Win a Million announcer – Don Messick.
Music: Hoyt Curtin.
Episode: Production R-57.
Copyright 1961 by Hanna-Barbera Productions.
Plot: Snagglepuss tries to escape from the Major in a TV station.

This cartoon’s got a lot going for it—Snagglepuss in disguise (including in drag), cameo appearances by Yogi Bear and Boo Boo, and a pile of 1950s TV spoofs. It could very well be a Warner Bros. cartoon. In fact, it was. The story is similar to the 1956 Bugs Bunny/Elmer Fudd short Wideo Wabbit, right down to the hero disguised as Groucho Marx and voiced by Daws Butler. It was written by Tedd Pierce, Mike Maltese’s former writing partner.

Regardless, this cartoon is still a lot of fun. It starts out as a parody of Ralph Edwards’ weepy reunion show “This is Your Life,” right down to Edwards making an unexpected appearance at a phoney dinner set up for Major Minor (host Turner Backwards is hiding under a food platter dome lid). Like the Edwards show, the honouree is taken to a couch in a TV studio, where the host is carrying a book (labelled “This is Your Strife”) and asks the victim if he recognises an off-stage voice from the past before the person (Snagglepuss, in this case), comes out on set to reminisce. I particularly like how the dinner’s main course is roast aardvark that the Major shot in the Mato Grosso.

Maltese comes up with some great nonsense dialogue. “Heavens to Murgatroyd, Major. Remember the jolly times we had together? Separate, even,” says the off-stage Snagglepuss. There’s also the usual vaudevillian tete-a-tete between the two.

Major: I thought I bagged you in the Bongo. Or did I boomerang you in Bolivia?
Snag: Au contraire, Major. You buckshotted me in the La Banza.
When Backwards points out the Major has never been able to catch Snagglepuss, the mountain lion “interjects an interjection” and points out he’s smarter than the Major. That sets off a chase through the television station that takes up most of the rest of the cartoon. “By Gadfrey,” cries the Major. “I’ll teach you to embarrass me before my millions of TV fans!”

Bill Keil is the credited animator. He worked on shorts at Disney in the 1940s and ’50s, and stopped at Jack Kinney’s studio before moving on to Hanna-Barbera in 1961 (he retired from the studio in 1982). He uses a lot of dry brush and ghosting effects when characters zip off stage.

First off, Snagglepuss appears as a surprise guest as “Nanny,” the Major’s “old nursemaid. Governess, even. Come all the way from Plum-Puddin-on-the-Thames...Coo! You were just a mere crumpet.” Snagglepuss plunks a baby bottle into the Major’s mouth and rocks him to “London Bridge.” “Sleepin’ like a bloomin’ daffodil, he is,” Nanny Snagglepuss tells us. “Sleep tight, ducks.” The Major realises he’s been had and stars firing his rifle at Snagglepuss (“You bounder!” “Exit, boundin’ all the way, stage right.”). The Major then confides in us, “Besides, my nursemaid’s name was Lady Ashtabula. By Gadfrey! She was a smasher.”

The chase is on. First, Snagglepuss disguises himself as an usher (as Bugs did in Wideo Wabbit) directing the Major to the filming of the Wagons West Show. Cut to the Major having been shot in the butt by arrows. I love how the scenery has folds so you know it’s a backdrop.

Next, a You Bet Your Life parody. Snagglepuss is disguised as Groucho welcoming the Major to What’s the Secret Word?.

Snagglepuss: Guess the secret woid and get yourself a new hat.
Major: Huh?
Snag: That’s the secret woid.
(gun on string drops from above and fires at the Major’s pith helmet)
Snag: Get yourself a new hat. You need one. Now, if you’ll excuse me, I must be shoving off. Or is it shovelling snow? Exit, stage right. Or is it stage fright?

Daws sounds closer to Fibber Fox than Groucho during much of the dialogue. The Major’s hat remains shot-up for the rest of the cartoon.

Cut to the next scene. It’s the filming of The Yogi Bear Show, complete with camera and obvious sets. Yogi and Boo Boo engage in some dialogue (as the Yogi show’s main theme plays in the background). When Yogi opens the lid of a pic-a-nic basket, Snagglepuss’ head pops up. “There’s no one here but us chicken sandwiches,” he remarks before more gunfire and the chase resumes. “It could be a major disaster, Yogi” puns Boo Boo. “Don’t worry, Boo Boo,” replies Yogi. “Ol’ Snagglepuss is on his way. Hey, hey, hey!”

Next, to the set of The Horror Show (“Come back here, by toffet!”) .The Major isn’t fooled by Snagglepuss in a Frankenstein’s monster costume. Thence to the set of The Win a Million Show. (“That’s for I’m,” remarks Snagglepuss). It turns out the winner is “that gentleman with the new hat in the first row”—the Major. He wins a million peanuts. Finally, Snagglepuss directs the Major into the Man Into Space Show, where he sets off a rocket and sends the Major into orbit.

The cartoon ends some time in the future with Snagglepuss walking to his mailbox, where he admits he misses the Major. “What doth the mail bringeth? Mayhap a letter from the old potato,” he says to himself. Nope. Turner Backwards pokes his head out of the mailbox, proclaiming “This is your strife!” “Exit, not on your life, stage right,” shouts Snagglepuss, and the cartoon ends with a run cycle. Backwards’ eyes go from little dots at the beginning to flesh-coloured little ovals at the end.

Dick Thomas is the background artist. Here’s his establishing shot from a layout by Walt Clinton, who I believe was spending more time in 1961 on The Flintstones and Top Cat than on the short cartoons.


  1. And the voices of Yogi and Boo Boo, as usual:
    Yogi, Daws Butler; Boo-Boo, Don Messick.

    The only time, I'll bet, that Maltese EVER wrote anything for Yogi and Boo Boo, though never the own cartoons, which is a shame.:) SC

  2. Another WB cartoon this episode evokes is the 1955 "cheater", This Is a Life?.

  3. "Turner Backwards"? I'll bet Joe B. liked that one.

  4. I suspect that Dave Detiege saw this on first run and talked to Bob McKimson soon after. "Bob, here's an idea Bugs and Daffy would like ('The Million-Hare')."

  5. This Is You Life managed to have a run over here too, I never realised just how old that show was until I saw old cartoons like this. There's a Danger Mouse episode that does the same thing.

    Funnily enough, I always assumed Fibber Fox was meant to sound like Groucho Marx in the first place.I also always wondered what the Major meant by 'toffet.'

    The colour error on Turner when in the mailbox makes him look naked!

    1. Fibber Fox's voice was patterned after comic Shelley Berman. But I never made the connection till someone pointed it out to me.

  6. If I had a penny for every cartoon that parodied ''This is Your Life''.

  7. YOWP, What does the Lady Ashtabula gag mean? I've heard the name before. And why does the major call her a smasher?

  8. Cartoons like this make Snagglepuss the "Bugs Bunny" of H-B.