Saturday, 12 August 2017

Snagglepuss in Lions Share Sheriff

Produced and Directed by Joe Barbera and Bill Hanna.
Credits: Animation – George Nicholas, Layout – Lance Nolley, Backgrounds – Art Lozzi, Written by Mike Maltese, Story Director – Alex Lovy, Titles – Art Goble, Production Supervision – Howard Hanson.
Voice Cast: Snagglepuss, Panicked Man, Purple Hat Cowboy, Bartender – Daws Butler; Raindance Kid, Old Sheriff, White Hat Cowboy – Doug Young.
Music: Hoyt Curtin.
Episode: Production R-6 (fourth Snagglepuss cartoon).
Copyright 1960 by Hanna-Barbera Productions.
Plot: New sheriff Snagglepuss tangles with the Raindance Kid, who vows to shoot a sheriff to celebrate his birthday.

Just for fun, when I pulled out this cartoon to watch it, I decided to start at a random frame. This was it.

And, even though I’m lousy at identifying animators, I knew exactly who did this cartoon. George Nicholas loved those stunned little beady-eyed looks. And he loved little horseshoe-shaped mouths in dialogue.

Nicholas was into big, floppy tongues, too, but we don’t get any in this cartoon. We get some nice ghosting multiples when characters zip off scene. The outlines either follow the character or dissolve on screen. You’ll notice how some of drawings are of the character turning.

I love the world-weary look he gives Snagglepuss. He did the same thing with the orange Snagglepuss in the Quick Draw McGraw cartoons. Snagglepuss’ eyes are half-closed with his head tilted.

Once again, Mike Maltese comes up with a funny premise and the odd turns of phrase you expect from him when he’s at his best. The cartoon opens with a new sheriff addresses his throng (all three of them) promising to run the town like it’s never been run before. A shot-up citizen runs into the plot exclaiming (to the background music of “Pop Goes the Weasel”) that the Raindance Kid plans to shoot a sheriff for his 35th birthday. The sheriff promised to run and he does—right out of the cartoon.

Enter Snagglepuss. “Ah! The west at last. With its spaces. Wide open, even. Its weeds that tumble. Its get-along-little-dogie. How picturesque. How calendar-artie!” The shot-up citizen runs past Snagglepuss, instantly donning him with sheriff’s apparel. Naturally, the mountain lion takes to his authority right away. In a nice little sequence, the smug Snagglepuss fires a bullet into the air. In an amazing display of competence, it ricochets off a horseshoe above a blacksmith shop’s door, the horseshoe lands on a horse, who kicks an anvil into the air that drops on the Raindance Kid. “Twas a mere nothin’,” he tells the cheering throng of three. “A paltry piddlin’ pittance of pistol practise, even.”

The next sequence is set in a typical Western saloon. “Bartender! Tender of bars!” shouts Snagglepuss. The revenge-seeking Kid takes the place of the bartender. “What’s your pleasure, sheriff?” “A rousin’ game of tiddlywinks, with loaded tiddles, even. But, instead, I’ll have a triple sasperilla chocolate flip(?) malt, topped with a maraschino olive, if you please.”

The Kid spikes it with tabasco sauce, red pepper, gun powder, liquid nitro glycerine and a dash of TNT. Nicholas animates Snagglepuss with alternating smooth and wavy lines during dialogue before the pink cat shoots into the air.

But the Kid’s plans fowl up. Snagglepuss crashes on top of his head. The throng cheers again in reused animation. “’Twas a mere bag-of-peanuts,” says Snagglepuss, punning on a “mere bagatelle” (who else but Maltese would do that?). “That thing might be loaded,” says to the gun-pointing kid. “What are you tryin’ to do, start a range war or somethin’? Remember, I’m one of the good guys. I’m a rootin’-tootin’, yippee-ki-yo and ki-yea, even. Tumbleweeds and chuckwagon stew, and all that Western jazz.”

The Kid keeps firing until the shot-up citizen tells him to cease because the Kid’s birthday is over. But it turns out the Kid got his days mixed up. Today is really his birthday. “Heavens to Murgatroyd, how many times were you born?” asks Snagglepuss, who makes his getaway via a horse-drawn carriage, resulting in a play on his own catchphrase, “Exit, stage coach,” to end the cartoon.

The soundtrack includes Hoyt Curtin’s version of the William Tell Overture at the end (to which is added the old “Shave-and-a-Haircut” jingle). The rest of the music was used in the underscore of The Flintstones in the first season, where Nicholas spent his time animating instead on the short cartoons. This was the only cartoon in the Snagglepuss series he worked on.


  1. Ah, liquid nitroglycerin. No cupboard or pantry in cartoondom is complete without it.

  2. 1960 would make this one of the first Snagglepuss cartoons.SC

  3. Some Hanna Barbera ads have been featured on British TV recently -- thought you may be interested: Halifax Flintstones ad Halifax Top Cat ad

  4. The random frame at the top looks like Clyde Crashcup from The Alvin Show without the mustache.