Saturday, 9 December 2017

Snagglepuss in Fight Fright

Produced and Directed by Joe Barbera and Bill Hanna.
Credits: Animation – Bob Carr, Layout – Jack Huber, Backgrounds – Art Lozzi, Written by Mike Maltese, Story Director – Lew Marshall, Titles – Art Goble, Production Supervision – Howard Hanson.
Voice Cast: Snagglepuss, Crowd – Daws Butler; K.O. Kangy, Barker, Referee, Crowd – Don Messick.
Music: Hoyt Curtin.
Episode: Production R-66 (aired in last episode of season). Copyright 1961 by Hanna-Barbera Productions.
Plot: Snagglepuss agrees to fight a boxing kangaroo.

Let’s see...what Warner Bros. cartoons did Mike Maltese draw from for this one?

1. A giant mouse is actually a kangaroo (any Sylvester vs Hippety Hopper short),
2. Riding an imaginary bicycle in the boxing ring (Porky and Daffy),
3. Boxer asking if something violent is illegal, demonstrating it on someone and then the ref saying it’s not allowed (To Duck or Not to Duck),
4. Failing at something, then trying it again, listing each step as it happens (Robin Hood Daffy).

Snagglepuss starts this cartoon bopped with baseballs as a target in a circus midway booth. He ends it that same way after deciding it’s safer than being bashed by a boxing kangaroo like in the rest of the cartoon. I kept thinking Snagglepuss would turn to the camera at the end and say “It’s a living,” but Maltese avoided borrowing that idea from the old Warners’ story chest.

(If you’re new here, Maltese worked for Warner Bros., mostly as a storyman, starting in May 1937 and left for Hanna-Barbera in November 1958, though he moved over to the Walter Lantz studio for around a year beginning in mid-1953).

Mercifully, Maltese only uses the “giant mouse” bit as bait, and briefly, instead of beating it into the ground like in a Warners cartoon.

Let’s quickly go through the story. As mentioned earlier, Snagglepuss has his head stuck through a hole in a ball-toss booth at a county fair circus. He only “took this job on a trial basis. Temporary, even.” But he’s had enough of having his snoot crushed by baseballs, so he exits and runs past the same pink-striped tent five times.

Meanwhile, in another tent, the scene cuts to a boxing ring announcer/promoter. The champ has run out on his fight with K.O. Kangy, the boxing kangaroo. Messick uses the worst Australian accent for the promoter while the kangaroo has that wavering voice he generally gave to aliens. The promoter cons the job-seeking Snagglepuss (“I happen to be financially embarrassed. Mortified, even...I’m a diamond setter. A gold smelter. A ruby polisher. And I scale fishes...I have initiative, brains, also sweet breads, ambition, and I’ve been vaccinated”) by offering a job boxing (“Boxing what? Oranges? Kumquats? Goquats, even?”) a “mouse from Australia” for $10, though he warns him the mouse is rather large. “Heavens to Lilliput! How large can a mouse get?” asks Snagglepuss. He quickly finds out.

He has trouble before the fight even starts, getting tied up in the ropes (“Don’t think the Boxin’ Commission ain’t gonna hear about this”), and spouting more typical lines such as “Heavens to giant economy size!” and referring to “Marquis of Queensborough Bridge” rules. K.O. asks if he can squeeze Snagglepuss’ nose or stomp on him. The answer’s “no.” But that doesn’t stop him from demonstrating before he hears it.

The bell rings. Snagglepuss looks confident as he says his game plan to himself. “Spar, spar. Hmm. Hmmm. Fake with your right. Fake with your left. Sucker him into an openin’ and then...” Snagglepuss gets punched in the face. He goes through the routine again, except he blocks the punch (“I haven’t lost my cunning’. Sneaky, even”). But K.O. tricks him and it’s wham again. Next, Snagglepuss tries his “marble-izing propeller punch” where his fist turns into a propeller. But it sends Snagglepuss up and then down as he drills a hole in the mat.

After being kicked into the ropes (with a rubber band sound effect) several times, Snagglepuss beats “a strategic retreat” on his bicycle. An invisible one. Maltese wastes a real chance for comedy, unless it was cut out by Lew Marshall after the story stage. He treats the gag as a throwaway. Snagglepuss just cycles out of the scene. He could have done all kinds of different things (especially as the bike is invisible, it can’t be animated) but that was the end of the gag.

After Snagglepuss is mushed into a heap in a pail (K.O. is revolted when he throws it out), our hero exists stage left and we find him back getting hit by baseballs in cycle animation to end the cartoon.

Actually, animator Bob Carr gets a bit of a footage break. His cycle of K.O. bouncing up and down and back and forth gets used several times.

Art Lozzi is the background artist. His work is pretty simple in this cartoon.

Hoyt Curtin’s calliope (I suspect it’s actually an organ) version of “Over the Waves” opens the cartoon and during the scene where Snagglepuss is sproinged against the ropes, there’s a sax, doo-wop style rock-and-roll riff.


  1. K. O. Kangy would have been a great character to star in his own series of shorts.

  2. Looks like Maltese also possibly took some inspiration from other boxing kangaroos (TerryToons' Kiko and the 'Color Rhapsody' The Kangaroo Kid)..

    1. I have a hard time believing Mike Maltese would be influenced by anything from the two most mediocre studios in cartoondom (post-1936), let alone a one-shot and an obscure character from 25 years earlier.