Tuesday, 3 March 2015

"A Taste of Hanna-Barbera"


As a child in elementary school, I enjoyed Sundays as “Snooper and Blabber”, and “Snagglepuss” cartoons would air. I adored Snagglepuss’ catchphrase, “Exit, Stage Left”, he exclaimed when leaving an uncomfortable situation. The pose with his arms in level with his shoulder and his feet in the air is perfect as he delivered those words was perfect.
I was in my chemistry teacher’s class when we were marking a take-home test. There were st
udents who had not finished the test. In deciding what to do, she mentioned while shooing away the students, “I don’t care if you Exit Stage Left! Whatever you have to do just go. “ It evoked a smile, as I adored the reference. Possibly I was the only one who caught it!

In high school when we would be studying a Shakespearean play; I saw the stage direction “Exit Stage Left”. I became aware that Mike Maltese’s inspiration for the mountain lion was Shakespeare. When I read a line in a Shakespeare play that seemed familiar; I would say to myself didn’t Snagglepuss utter that particular dialogue?

Mike Maltese had cut his teeth, his tongue even at “Elizabethan” prose in earlier cartoons “Rabbit Hood” and “Robin Hood Daffy”. In the later short, Daffy Duck pretending to be Robin Hood exclaims “Look no further, good friar, for I am he for whomst thou seekest. I am Robin Hood.” I always enjoyed the archaic terms he sprinkles when talking. How he inserts the word, even. The beginning of “Charge The Lion” shows how colourful Maltese's dialogue is.

Snagglepuss:"$15 reward capture for Snagglepuss. Wanted for attempted sheep stealing. Description: not too bright. Not too bright? Where do they get that stuff. Why, I was so bright, my mother called me Sunny. Let's see how bright they are when they look for a lion with a big black mustache. Not bad. It makes me look distingue. Handsome even."
Hunter:"Stick the up, Snagglepuss."
Snagglepuss:"Stick them up, indeed. What makes you think I'm the one you seeketh."
Hunter: "Well, you don't look very bright to me. "
Snagglepuss:"Is that so? Look at the mustache.Do I bear a resemblance to that stupid-looking lion. Remotest,even"
Hunter (draws a moustache): "Now you do!"
Snagglepuss: "Exit, mustache and all, stage left."
In his first appearance “Lamb Chopped”, Quick Draw says, “I’ll teach you to steal sheeps.” The mountain lion responds, “Really my friend, that’s not ‘ne-cess-ararry’. I already know how. Stealing sheeps is my destiny.” I adore the effrontery he has to respond to Quick Draw’s rhetorical question. Animator Ken Muse raises the character’s eyebrows and his eyelids are half open adds to the smugness. I am more amazed at how Daws Butler can keep the conversation between the two. As an antagonist he was always in control of the situation. When he received his own series, his theatrical tendcies were accentuated; He would be a victim of circumstance. Occasionally, he would steal sheep.
Alliteration being one of the literary devices I like to use in my writing. Mike Maltese’s employment of alliteration adds to the humor of the scene. In the first entry of his series, “Major Operation”, Snagglepuss in a cage relates to Major Minor. The tête-à-tête between him and his adversary Major Minor is displayed. It would be an excellent opportunity for Mike to seize the scene with his wonderful word play.

Snagglepuss: “I was captured in Cambodia while cavorting with a Cambodian.”
Major Minor: "But didn't I shoot you in the Mato Grosso?"
Snagglepuss:"Negative. I beleive you got me below the equator, or was it in the left clavicle?"


"He’s the boss, he’s a pip, he’s the championship" as the theme song succinctly describe him to a tee.  A “T.C”, even as a certain mountain lion would phrase.

As a “single-digiter” this video attracted me to this fabulous feline. The vest he donned on added to his flair as a smooth operator. The purple vest was a strong contrast to his yellow fur. All animals in the “Hanna-Barbara” universe wear assorted accoutrements (Hats, bowtie, bandana, collars, sweaters, and a vest) I thought it added to the aesthetics of the characters, instead of acting as a shortcut of animating the head. I was captivated hearing the cadence provided by Arnold Stang.  The “Biko-esque” voice suited him, especially when pitching ideas to his fellow feline or avoiding punishment from Officer Dibble. 
Out of all “Hanna-Barbera” creations, none is more talented at the power of persuasion than him.  (You could argue a case about who would be more convincing at the craft between Hokey Wolf and him. I will let you concoct at conclusion.) As demonstrated in “The Case Of The Absent Anteater”, Officer Dibble in his latest attempt of catching T.C. breaking a rule. He disguises himself, while spying on him and Benny The Ball breaking into a dog shelter, in order to obtain their anteater. Officer Mahoney arrives on the scene ready to arrest the perpetrators. Officer Dibble demands that Mahoney arrest them for. 

Mahoney: "What dog? That's the missing anteater. There's a reward out for him"

Top Cat: "True. And I want you to share it. Here, boys. Live it up a little."  
Dibble: "Trying to bribe us? It ain't going to work. Take them in, Mahoney."
Top Cat:"You heard him, Mahoney. Slap the cuffs on these innocent wrists."
Dibble: "Pay no attention, Mahoney. He's a master at snow jobs." 
Top Cat:"Thank you. As I was saying, you can depend on me. Nary a word about this regrettable incident. Your, secret is safe." 
Mahoney: "Secret? What secret?"
Top Cat:"Oh, yes. I don't blame you for covering up. Benny, can't you see it in tomorrow's headlines. Two patrolmen caught with hot anteater."
Dibble:"What are you talking about? You gave him to me!"
Top Cat:"That's what I'll tell them when they grill me at headquarters The hot lights, the harsh voices. I'll try not to crack."
Dibble:"Now, wait a minute, T.C."
Top Cat:"That's right. You've always wanted to meet the Commissioner. It should be a colourful ceremony. The Commisioner stripping you of your uniform before a nationwide TV audience. What a rating you'll have"
Dibble:"No, T.C. no! Look, give me another chance."
Mahoney: "Yeah. He didn't mean any harm."
Top Cat: "But when I think of the times I wanted to use his police telephone the countless rebuffs"
Dibble:"You can use it whenever, you like, T.C. In fact, I'll have an extension put in your trash can."
Top Cat:"No, no. I couldn't let you, Dibble. Make it one of those color phones. Yellow, that goes with my eyes."  

Dibble: "Yellow? Sure thing. Good."
Top Cat:"Be sure it has one of those little lights in the dial. Very chic. Come Benny, we need our shuteye."
Mahoney:"But what do we do with this anteater. The zoo is closed for the night."
Top Cat:":"So it is. Play a little ball with him. Take him to an all-night movie.The hours will pass. Good evening, gentleman" 
Mahoney:"What happened? Where did we go wrong?"
Dibble:"It's no use. Don't try to figure it out. Top Cat just ain't human."
Under the feline's persuasive charm, no one can escape it. I like his body language, with his arms crossed.

He relies on his ingenuity in inventing the latest scheme or improving his way of living for him and his crew. In “The Long Hot Winter” sees Top Cat and his friends freezing in the alley. He researches an old statute in order for his companions to spend the winter in in Dibble’s abode. 

One of his ploys in securing Dibble’s domicile is by phoning the press. Hokey Wolf in “Tricks and Treats” would employ a similar tactic. He feigns fracturing of his tibia in an animal trap. 
He threatens to sue Farmer Smith for cruelty to animals, especially during “Be Kind To Animals Week”. He proposes to stay at the farmer’s house until his condition improves. While the farmer’s away, Hokey and Ding-Boy raid the fridge for goodies. Hokey then calls the humane society protecting his position in Farmer Smith’s house. It is an interesting approach to a similar set up. How they both feel fresh.

There are moments where Top Cat has demonstrated moments of tenderness. In "T.C. Minds The Baby" when foraging for food in the city. They come across a "pic-a-nic" basket, therein lies, a baby, on the stoop of an abandoned building. They first try dumping him in old Man McGuilicutty's homes, but change their mind. Top Cat decides to drop him off at the orphanage. Benny the Ball explains how despite being taken care of, there is a lack of love. Finally, they convince him in letting the baby be apart of their group, in order to take care of him. 
In "Dibble's Birthday" he considers hocking all the presents that his friends obtained for Officer Dibble's birthdayInitially, he is reluctant of giving away all the presents, until he receives the disapproval from his members that he warms up to the idea.
Despite the troubles that T.C. and his crew cause Officer Dibble, they tolerate each other. In "Farewell Officer Dibble", when Officer Dibble has been replaced by, Charlie, the police commissioners nephew, who turns out to less lenient for T.C and his gang. They device a scheme that will secure Dibble his position. 
I always wish I had the smooth-talking charm T.C posses; In reality I am more like Huckleberry Hound. (One of my favorite shows outside of the “Hanna Barbera” productions is “The A-Team”. One of the members Faceman uses his “gift of the gab” in procuring whatever items the team needs. It is reminiscent of the cons that T.C. devises.

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