Saturday, 14 October 2017

Snagglepuss in Lion Tracks

Produced and Directed by Bill Hanna and Joe Barbera.
Credits: Animation – Hicks Lokey, Layout – Tony Rivera, Backgrounds – Bob Gentle, Written by Mike Maltese, Story Director – Art Davis, Titles – Art Goble, Production Supervision – Howard Hanson.
Voice Cast: Snagglepuss, Worker wearing vest, Chutney – Daws Butler; Major Minor, Worker with red kerchief, Jack, Railroad President – Don Messick.
Music: Hoyt Curtin.
Episode: Production R-63 (second-last Snagglepuss production of the season).
Copyright 1961 by Hanna-Barbera Productions.
Plot: Major Minor tries to push the railway through Snagglepuss’ cave.

There’s a funny little scene in Lion Tracks that reminds me of Bugs Bunny pulling a con job on Yosemite Sam by mixing him up. Major Minor has been hired by the railway to get Snagglepuss out of his mountain cave so tracks can be laid through it. Says the Major: “The trains must go through, and all that pioneer jazz. So, pack and go.” Snagglepuss replies: “You mean like wagon trains?” He then pretends to be a horse and rider, slapping his butt and yelling at himself to giddyup. “No, by Gadfrey! I mean trains, like ‘Chugga chugga chugga. Choo choo choo!’”

The major is now completely distracted from his goal of removing Snagglepuss. The two chant “Chugga chugga chugga” and move toward Snagglepuss’ door. When the Major’s out, the mountain lion yells “Last stop, even!” and slams the door shut. The Major realises he’s had and burns. Well, burns as much as you can in limited animation.

There’s actually another bit that’s even closer to a Warners cartoon. Snagglepuss induces the Major to be his basket trick assistant and continues shoving swords into the basket (cut to a shot of the Major in the basket surrounded by swords) until one finally stabs him and sends him yelling into the sky. It’s a switch on a sword-trunk gag in Racketeer Rabbit (released in 1946) where Bugs shoves swords into a trunk where Rocky is hiding. That cartoon was written by Mike Maltese who wrote all the Snagglepuss cartoons.

Maltese has a compact little story here. As mentioned, the Choo Choo Railroad Co. is laying its tracks when work stops. A mountain’s in the way. Aha! There’s a cave, a ready-made tunnel through the mountain. The cave (with a door) turns out to be Snagglepuss’ home. He keeps trying to explain through the cartoon there are two reasons why a railroad can’t go through the cave, but he only gets the first one out (“a lion’s home is his cast-le”) before being continually interrupted and unable to give the second reason.

Snagglepuss fends off the construction crew, so a call is placed to the president of the railroad who, in turn, calls his “old school chum, Major Minor, the lion hunter” at the Adventurers Club, who agrees to “rout the recalcitrant beast immediately.”

Cut to the Major and his rifle at Snagglepuss’ door (as “Meet the Flintstones” in march time plays in the background) who uses the trusty Wamoozie Jungle Lion Call of “Racka, Wacka, Woo-ooo, Woo-woo!” to lure him out. That brings about the usual tete-a-tete between the two.

Major: I thought I belted you with a basher in the Bongo.
Snagglepuss: Au contraire, Major. You bashed me with a bongo below the Veldt. But I recovered.
After being frustrated during the initial “chugga chugga” routine, the Major weakly disguises himself with a black moustache and pretends to be a talent scout for the Dingaling Brothers Jolly Circus (“I’ll work on his love of show business”) to make Snagglepuss a phoney offer to leave immediately on a world tour. Snagglepuss insists it’s preposterous to give him a job without an audition, so he enthusiastically shows the “scout” his act. If this were a Bugs Bunny cartoon, the rabbit would be aware of the disguise, but Snagglepuss doesn’t seem to realise it’s the Major. No matter. His juggling act ends with bowling balls crashing on the Major’s head (“I must be a little rusty. Stale, even.”). Next comes the basket trick mentioned earlier.

The Major’s had enough. He engineers the train straight through the cave (who needs tracks?) and crashes through the other side of the mountain and into mid-air. Ah, that’s the second reason the railroad can’t go through. No place for the tracks. The train and the major drop off screen and the camera shakes.

The cartoon ends with Snagglepuss answering a call for the Major. “No. He left in a choo-choo train. Where? He was headin’ south. Deep south, that is.” Snagglepuss hangs up the phone, gives out another “chugga chugga chugga” as a short playoff cue fills the sound track to end the action.

There’s nothing in Hicks Lokey’s animation to point out. Here are some more of Bob Gentle’s backgrounds—the desert with the plateaux in the distance, the interior of Snagglepuss’ cave, a close-up of the cave entrance (the front part of the mountain is on an overlay so Snagglepuss can emerge through the door, and an angular viewpoint of the mountain without any sign of Snag’s door.


  1. One of the funniest Snagglepuss cartoons ever! This is laugh out loud stuff. Love the line about "below the Veldt!"

  2. Maybe Snagglepuss Chronicles could have a cameo (or fantasy) of a Moe (Stooge)-ish character that looks like (in body form) Fred Flintstone.

  3. Hicks Lokey's career as an animator went as far back as his days working for Max Fleischer in the mid-1930's. Then, he worked his way through Walter Lantz...and Disney.....and finally ended up at H-B in 1959, retiring in 1986.