You are currently browsing the category archive for the ‘Betty Boop’ category.

Director: Dave Fleischer
Release Date: January 16, 1933
Stars: Betty Boop, Bimbo, Koko
Rating: ★★½
Review:

Betty Boop's Ker-Choo © Max FleischerBetty, Bimbo and Koko are joining a car race. Betty Boop is late, because she has a cold, and when she arrives she sings a song about it. In the end she wins the car race by sneezing.

Although ‘Betty Boop’s Ker-Choo’ belongs to Betty Boop’s golden era, it’s unfortunately one of Betty’s more boring cartoons. In fact, the best gags are the silly ones with which the cartoon starts. Because she wears a driver’s costume, Betty is also less sexy than usual, and somehow it seems this cartoon that points to the design used one year later, when Betty Boop fell victim of the stricter Hays code.

Watch ‘Betty Boop’s Ker-Choo’ yourself and tell me what you think:

This is Betty Boop cartoon No. 9
To the previous Betty Boop cartoon: Betty Boop’s Museum
To the next Betty Boop cartoon: Betty Boop’s Crazy Inventions

‘Betty Boop’s Ker-Choo’ is available on the French DVD Box Set ‘Betty Boop Coffret Collector’

Director: Dave Fleischer
Release Date: August 4, 1933
Stars: Betty Boop, Cab Calloway
Rating: ★★★★
Review:

The Old Man of the Mountain © Max Fleischer‘The Old Man of the Mountain’ was the last of three Fleischer cartoons featuring Cab Calloway.

The cartoon is unique in that it uses Calloway’s swing music throughout the picture. The short uses two of Cab Calloway’s hits: the title song, which the Cab had recorded in June 1932; and during the chase scene ‘The Scat Song’, first recorded February 29, 1932.

The complete cartoon perfectly fits the jazzy score, and it’s musically the most perfect of the three Cab Calloway shorts. Unfortunately, this also means it’s devoid of any story, and relatively low on gags. Nevertheless, the sex-inclined atmosphere and the sizzling hot jazz easily make up for it.

The short starts with some live footage of Calloway and his orchestra. Then we cut to a lion warning everybody of the old man of the mountain. Soon, everybody’s fleeing from the old man of the mountain, except Betty. She goes up the mountain to meet him. The old man of the mountain chases her into a cave (somehow, all three Cab Calloway cartoons feature a cave). There the two sing a duet together, the only duet between a jazz singer and a cartoon star I know of. During this scene the old man’s moves are Calloway’s in rotoscope. Then the old man chases her down, until some animals capture the old guy and tie his limbs into a knot. At one point the old man captures Betty’s dress, leaving her in her underwear.

‘The Old Man of the Mountain’ is such a great cartoon one is extra sorry the Fleischers did not make any other cartoon featuring the Cab. One month later they would release ‘I Heard‘ featuring Don Redman, but that was the very last of the Fleischer’s great jazz cartoons. Even worse, by August 1933 Betty Boop’s own heydays were almost over. In 1934 she was bowdlerized by the Hays code, never to perform with hot jazz stars again.

Watch ‘The Old Man of the Mountain’ yourself and tell me what you think:

This is Betty Boop cartoon No. 18
To the previous Betty Boop cartoon: Mother Goose Land
To the next Betty Boop cartoon: I Heard

‘The Old Man of the Mountain’ is available on the French DVD Box Set ‘Betty Boop Coffret Collector’

Director: Dave Fleischer
Release Date: March 31, 1933
Stars: Betty Boop, Bimbo, Koko the Clown
Rating: ★★★★★♕
Review:

Snow-White © Max FleischerOf all Fleischer cartoons ‘Snow-White’ is probably the most famous. And rightly so, because it brings the Fleischer’s unique brand of surrealism to the max, being simply stuffed with mesmerizing images, unexpected metamorphosis and stream-of-consciousness-like story flows.

The short is also the second of three cartoons featuring the unique voice of Cab Calloway, the others being ‘Minnie the Moocher‘ (1932) and ‘The Old Man of the Mountain‘ from five months later. According to Leslie Cabarga (‘The Fleischer Story’, p.64) the film was animated by one man, Doc Crandall. Indeed he’s the only animator credited on the title card. This may be the cause of the short’s remarkable inner consistency. For the images may make no sense, they do flow into each other in a seamless way, with Betty Boop’s ride into an ice coffin as a particular highlight of absurd logic.

The Fleischer’s ‘Snow-White’ has a winter setting. It starts classical enough with the queen consulting her magic mirror. But then Betty Boop enters the scene, making the knights fall apart and the queen’s head turn into a frying pan, symbolizing her angry jealousy. The queen orders ‘off with her head’, demonstrating the action with her own fingers, and soon Koko and Bimbo (as two knights) prepare for the execution. However, in a very strange string of events they disappear into the hole they’ve dug themselves, while the tree to which Betty is tied sets her free himself.

In another weird string of events Betty Boop ends in an ice coffin at the dwarfs’ door. They drag her into the ‘mystery cave’, followed by the queen, who, using her magic mirror, has turned herself into a witch. Koko and Bimbo also enter the cave. Koko starts singing the St. James Infirmary Blues, one of Calloway’s classic hits, with Cab Calloway’s voice and movements. But when the queen turns him into a ghost, Koko suddenly becomes able to morph into a gold chain and into a bottle, illustrating the lyrics of the song. Later the mirror turns the witch into a dragon, which chases the trio, until Bimbo turns it inside out.

There’s a lot going on in this mind-blowing cartoon, which is over before you know it. Being very, very unlike Disney’s later feature film, ‘Snow-White’ is an undisputed highlight of cartoon surrealism, matched by very few other cartoons (the other one which comes to mind is ‘Porky in Wackyland’ from 1938). With this short the Fleischers reached the pinnacle of their pre-code cartoon style, before a combination of the Hays code and a tendency to imitate Walt Disney more toned down their unique vision.

Watch ‘Snow-White’ yourself and tell me what you think:

This is Betty Boop cartoon No. 13
To the previous Betty Boop cartoon: Betty Boop’s Penthouse
To the next Betty Boop cartoon: Betty Boop’s Birthday Party

‘Snow-White’ is available on the French DVD Box Set ‘Betty Boop Coffret Collector’

Director: Dave Fleischer
Release Date: November 25, 1932
Stars: Betty Boop, Bimbo, Koko the Clown, Louis Armstrong
Rating: ★★★
Review:

I'll Be Glad When You're Dead You Rascal You © Max FleischerThere are few classic cartoons that will give such a mixed feeling as ‘I’ll Be Glad When You’re Dead You Rascal You’.

There’s much to say for it: the short is one of the wonderful pre-code swing cartoons, featuring no less than the great Louis Armstrong, who appears here in person, not only in the introduction, but also as a floating head, in a remarkable blending of animation and live action.

Unfortunately, ‘I’ll Be Glad When You’re Dead You Rascal You’ is also one of those ignorant cartoons featuring severe caricatures of black people, in their most cliche form: cannibals. Even worse, in this cartoon a direct connection is made between the backward caricatures and the black performers, as one of the cannibals grows into Louis Armstrong’s singing head, and his drummer (probably Tubby Hall) is likened to another big-lipped cannibal. Thus this cartoon is as entertaining as it is offensive.

There’s not much of a story: Betty, Bimbo and Koko are on a safari in dark Africa. There they encounter a tribe of hungry cannibals, who kidnap Betty. Then we cut to Bimbo and Koko on their aimless search for Betty. Soon they’re followed by a cannibal who morphs into a giant floating native head, which turns into that of Louis Armstrong singing the title song. Bimbo and Koko manage to rescue Betty with help of a porcupine. The last shot is for Louis Armstrong and his band. The complete cartoon is rather nonsensical, but Armstrong’s hot jazz make it a great ride, if an uncomfortable one.

Watch ‘I’ll Be Glad When You’re Dead You Rascal You’ yourself and tell me what you think:

This is Betty Boop cartoon No. 7
To the previous Betty Boop cartoon: Betty Boop for President
To the next Betty Boop cartoon: Betty Boop’s Museum

‘I’ll Be Glad When You’re Dead You Rascal You’ is available on the French DVD Box Set ‘Betty Boop Coffret Collector’

Director: Dave Fleischer
Release Date: November 4, 1932
Stars: Betty Boop
Rating: ★★★★
Review:

Betty Boop for President © Max Fleischer‘Betty Boop for President’ is one of those rare pre-war cartoons using current events as its subject.

The short was released just four days before the 1932 elections. In it Betty Boop runs for president, imitating the then current president and candidate Herbert Hoover and his Democratic challenger Al Smith. Unfortunately for the Fleischers, it was not Al Smith, but Franklin D. Roosevelt who was chosen as the candidate for the Democrats during the Democrat National Convention (June 27-July 2). Apparently, this scene already had been completed before this convention.

Betty’s opponent is one ‘Mr. Nobody’ (a stick wearing a bowler hat). His song demonstrates that nobody cares for the average man. Betty clearly has the upper hand, however, and the next scenes show some of her rather nonsensical suggestions to improve the country. These at least involve loads of knots of ribbons. The cartoon ends with a picture of a glass of beer, indicating that the 18th amendment was a major issue of the elections. Indeed, from March 22 1933 on, low alcohol beer and wine were legalized, and in December of that year, the 18th amendment was repealed by the 21st amendment. The prohibition years were over.

Watch ‘Betty Boop for President’ yourself and tell me what you think:

This is Betty Boop cartoon No. 6
To the previous Betty Boop cartoon: Betty Boop’s Ups and Downs
To the next Betty Boop cartoon: I’ll Be Glad When You’re Dead You Rascal You

‘Betty Boop for President’ is available on the French DVD Box Set ‘Betty Boop Coffret Collector’

Director: Dave Fleischer
Release Date: September 23, 1932
Stars: Betty Boop, Bimbo
Rating: ★★★★★
Review:

Betty Boop's Bamboo Isle © Max FleischerThis cartoon features a soundtrack by the Hawaii band ‘The Royal Samoans’, giving the cartoon a lively Hawaii score.

The short starts with Bimbo crashing on an island on a boat, into Betty Boop’s arms. A waterfall throws them into a spot full of singing trees, and later they’re confronted with a bunch of cannibals. Bimbo disguises himself as ‘black’ using mud, and starts singing the Hawaiian war chant. Thus he becomes the natives’ king. The cannibals perform for him, and Betty, too, who dances an extraordinarily sexy hula dance only dressed in a skirt and a flower garland. Unfortunately, the rain washes off Bimbo’s disguise and the two have to flee in a boat.

The movements of the dancing natives and Betty are rotoscoped from the Royal Samoans, rendering them very convincing and lifelike, indeed. Betty Boop’s hula dance is arguably her best scene ever. Apart from this, the cartoon is stuffed with throwaway gags showing the Fleischer’s typical brand of surrealism.

Watch ‘Betty Boop’s Bamboo Isle’ yourself and tell me what you think:

This is Betty Boop cartoon No. 4
To the previous Betty Boop cartoon: Betty Boop , M.D.
To the next Betty Boop cartoon: Betty Boop’s Ups and Downs

‘Betty Boop’s Bamboo Isle’ is available on the French DVD Box Set ‘Betty Boop Coffret Collector’

Director: Dave Fleischer
Release Date: August 19, 1932
Stars: Betty Boop, Bimbo, Koko the Clown
Rating: ★★★½
Review:

Betty Boop Bizzy Bee © Max FleischerIn ‘Betty Boop Bizzy Bee’ Betty works in a mobile canteen, where the complete menu consists of wheat cakes.

After some rather trite gags, a song starts with the recurring line ‘pass me the sugar’. When a fat customer appears with an enormous appetite, the cartoon goes haywire. In the end everything has a belly ache, even the stove, the lunch wagon and the moon.

‘Betty Boop Bizzy Bee’ is one of those Fleischer cartoons in which everything is alive. We watch wheat cakes flipping themselves over in a square dance and plates washing and drying themselves. The ‘story’ makes little sense, it’s just a string of gags in a rather stream-of-consciousness-like fashion. ‘Betty Boop Bizzy Bee’ is very similar to Van Beuren’s ‘Pots and Pans‘ from three months earlier, and may have been inspired by it.

Watch ‘Betty Boop Bizzy Bee’ yourself and tell me what you think:

This is Betty Boop cartoon No. 2
To the previous Betty Boop cartoon: Stopping the Show
To the next Betty Boop cartoon: Betty Boop, M.D.

‘Betty Boop Bizzy Bee’ is available on the French DVD Box Set ‘Betty Boop Coffret Collector’

Director: Dave Fleischer
Release Date: December 16, 1932
Stars: Betty Boop, Bimbo, Koko the Clown
Rating: ★★★½
Review:

Betty Boop's Museum © Max FleischerKoko takes Betty on a sightseeing trip to a museum that displays both art and fossils, and where Bimbo is a guard.

Soon Betty is busy feeding a statue called Hunger, and she’s left behind after closing time. Suddenly the statues and fossils come alive, and a horned fossil demands her to sing for them. Betty Boop starts ‘Was That The Human Thing To Do’, a hit from that year, to which the fossils dance. Then the horned (or rather horny) fossil haunts Betty, until the museum suddenly collapses.

‘Betty Boop’s Museum’ is one of the more bizarre Betty Boop shorts of 1932/1933, even though it’s not as good as ‘Betty Boop’s Bamboo Isle‘ or ‘Snow-White‘. The short starts with a spectacular zoom out from Koko’s mouth. There’s also a very short, but nicely animated scene of Koko’s car on roller skates.

Watch ‘Betty Boop’s Museum’ yourself and tell me what you think:

This is Betty Boop cartoon No. 8
To the previous Betty Boop cartoon: I’ll Be Glad When You’re Dead You Rascal You
To the next Betty Boop cartoon: Betty Boop’s Ker-Choo

Betty Boop’s Museum’ is available on the French DVD Box Set ‘Betty Boop Coffret Collector’

Director: Dave Fleischer
Release Date: October 14, 1932
Stars: Betty Boop, Bimbo
Rating: ★★★½
Review:

Betty Boop's Ups and Downs © Max Fleischer‘Betty Boop’s Ups and Downs’ is one of the most stream-of-consciousness-like cartoons the Fleischer Brothers ever made.

The short starts with Betty Boop moving and putting her old house for sale. As soon as she leaves, the house falls apart, which drops the price immediately, even though the chimney desperately tries to keep the building together. This is a rather weird scene itself, but soon we zoom out to reveal the whole area being on sale, the whole of the United States, and even the complete earth. Suddenly we watch the moon auctioning the earth to the neighboring planets. The earth is sold to a Jewish looking Saturn, who draws gravity from the earth. Suddenly everything starts floating upwards. Imagine, this cartoon started with Betty moving to a new home!

Unfortunately, the studio has difficulties inventing good gags about the world without gravity, and the premise never gets proper treatment. For example, their best gag seems to be Betty Boop’s skirt flying upwards, revealing her panties, which is shown twice. It seems as when their imagination could roam completely freely, the studio got stuck, as the same happened in ‘Crazy Town‘ from earlier that year. When the earth pulls its own magnet back into place, everything falls down again to a jazzy score, and it’s Betty who has the last word in a reprise of her opening song.

Even though it’s not really successful, ‘Betty Boop’s Ups and Downs’ is one of the strangest cartoons ever made, and worth while watching.

Watch ‘Betty Boop’s Ups and Downs’ yourself and tell me what you think:

This is Betty Boop cartoon No. 5
To the previous Betty Boop cartoon: Betty Boop’s Bamboo Isle
To the next Betty Boop cartoon: Betty Boop for President

‘Betty Boop’s Ups and Downs’ is available on the French DVD Box Set ‘Betty Boop Coffret Collector’

Director: Dave Fleischer
Release Date: September 2, 1932
Stars: Betty Boop, Bimbo, Koko the Clown
Rating: ★★★★
Review:

Betty Boop, M.D. © Max Fleischer‘Betty Boop, M.D.’ opens with Betty driving a tilt car into a town to sell  a potion called Jippo, which is advertised as”flattens feet, makes young men old, removes teeth – grows tonsils, and stops breathing”.

Betty gets assistance from Koko and Bimbo to sell the product. First Koko performs some surreal acrobatic stunts, to no avail. Then Betty herself appears to sing a song, and the selling starts. The potion as some wondrous effects on the audience, e.g. a very thin man grows fat in an instant, and an old man turns into a large baby, while a baby turns into a tiny old man.

When Bimbo drinks Jippo himself, he starts the song ‘Nobody’s Sweetheart’, which contains a lot of scatting by members of the audience. To this jazzy sequence the imagery simply explodes with mind-blowing, surreal scenes. This fantastic string of events ends when a baby drinks Jippo, turning into a faithful caricature of Fredric March as Mr. Hyde from the 1931 horror film ‘Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde’.

As is often the case with the Fleischer films from the early 1930s, ‘Betty Boop, M.D.’ has a very weak and rather improvised story line, but this drawback is luckily compensated by original imagery, peppy music, and simply a lot of fun.

Watch ‘Betty Boop, M.D.’ yourself and tell me what you think:

This is Betty Boop cartoon No. 3
To the previous Betty Boop cartoon: Betty Boop Bizzy Bee
To the next Betty Boop cartoon: Betty Boop’s Bamboo Isle

‘Betty Boop, M.D.’ is available on the French DVD Box Set ‘Betty Boop Coffret Collector’

Director: Dave Fleischer
Release Date: June 2, 1933
Stars: Betty Boop
Rating: ★★★★
Review:

Betty Boop's Big Boss © Max Fleischer‘Betty Boop’s Big Boss’ opens with a pig putting up a sign saying “Girl wanted, female preferred”.

Betty Boop applies to the job, among hundreds of other candidates. However, Betty sings a sexy version of Irving Berlin’s 1919 hit song “You’d be surprised”, and she’s hired on the spot, while the boss quickly disposes of the competition.

Betty starts typewriting right away. Meanwhile her boss clearly fancies her, even though she’s not dressed as sexy as in her earlier films. He tries to steal a kiss, but then Betty cries for help, and about everybody comes to the rescue (the police, the army, the navy and the air force). This gag anticipates a remarkably similar gag in the Marx Brothers film ‘Duck Soup’, released later that year.

‘Betty Boop’s Big Boss’ is a cartoon full of sex and violence, and a clear example of a pre-code Betty Boop. Only a half a year later this short would have been impossible to make…

Watch ‘Betty Boop’s Big Boss’ yourself and tell me what you think:

This is Betty Boop cartoon No. 16
To the previous Betty Boop cartoon: Betty Boop’s May Party
To the next Betty Boop cartoon: Mother Goose Land

‘Betty Boop’s Big Boss’ is available on the French DVD Box Set ‘Betty Boop Coffret Collector’

 

Director: Dave Fleischer
Release Date: August 12, 1932
Stars: Betty Boop, Bimbo, Koko the Clown
Rating: ★★★
Review:

Stopping the Show © Max Fleischer‘Stopping the Show’ is Betty Boop’s first cartoon under her own name, starting a series that would only end, after 88 entries, in 1939.

In ‘Stopping the Show’, she’s the highlight of a show that is half cinema half theater. The show starts off with a “noose reel”, followed by a screening of a short cartoon (!) starring Bimbo and Koko. Then Betty enters the stage. She starts with singing ‘That’s My Weakness Now’, which in 1928 had been a hit song for her source of inspiration, Helen Kane. Then she does imitations of Fanny Brice and Maurice Chevalier.

By now, Betty is so well animated, that she feels like a real character, who easily steals the hearts of the audience. She’s a real cartoon star, second only to Mickey Mouse. Her performance makes ‘Stopping the Show’ a delightful watch, even though it lacks the surrealism of earlier outings.

Watch ‘Stopping the Show’ yourself and tell me what you think:

This is Betty Boop cartoon No. 1
To Betty Boop’s last Talkartoon: The Betty Boop Limited
To the next Betty Boop cartoon: Betty Boop Bizzy Bee

‘Stopping the Show’ is available on the French DVD Box Set ‘Betty Boop Coffret Collector’

Director: Dave Fleischer
Release Date: December 26, 1930
Stars: Betty Boop, Bimbo
Rating: ★★★★★
Review:

Still from 'Mysterious Mose' featuring Betty Boop naked in bed

Bimbo is the uncanny phantom-like Mysterious Mose, who visits a frightened Betty Boop at night.

The cartoon has a jazzy score, using the St. James Infirmary Blues. Like ‘Barnacle Bill‘, it is wildly surrealistic, with all kinds of animals appearing out of nowhere and disappearing into nothingness again, and during the title song there’s metamorphosis all over the place.

‘Mysterious Mose’ is the third cartoon featuring Betty Boop, and the first with her in the starring role. She’s still unnamed here, but her development as as sex object is pushed further, when her night shirt flies off twice, leaving her naked in bed. She’s also animated much better than in her earlier two films, ‘Dizzy Dishes‘ and ‘Barnacle Bill‘. Her looks and moves are more stable, more feminine, and thus, more sexy.

Watch ‘Mysterious Mose’ yourself and tell me what you think:

This is Talkartoon No. 14
To the previous Talkartoon: Up to Mars
To the next Talkartoon: The Ace of Spades

‘Mysterious Mose’ is available on the French DVD Box Set ‘Betty Boop Coffret Collector’

Director: Dave Fleischer
Release Date: August 31, 1930
Stars: Betty Boop
Rating: ★★★★★
Review:

Still from 'Barnacle Bill' featuring Barnacle Bill and Betty Boop on a singing couch

‘Barnacle Bill’ is a literal visual illustration of the folk song of the same name, made famous by Hoagy Carmichael’s 1930 recording.

Barnacle Bill (another version of early Bimbo) is visiting Betty Boop, who’s called Nancy Lee in this cartoon and who apparently is the Captain’s love. All neighbors gossip about it, and when the captain arrives, he chases Barnacle Bill into the sea, where the latter dances with some remarkably humanized mermaids.

‘Barnacle Bill’ is the second cartoon featuring Betty Boop, and it introduces the strong sexual overtones, associated with the character in her early years. One example is Betty’s dress that rolls itself up, exposing her legs. There’s also a couch that itself replaces several chairs when Betty invites Barnacle Bill inside.

‘Barnacle Bill’ uses musical dialogue almost exclusively. It contains some odd perspectives and flexible animation, but most important of all, it is wildly surrealistic, creating a completely original world of utter weirdness. For example, when Barnacle Bill threatens to bust in the door, the door shrinks and hides under the welcome mat. Later, we watch Barnacle Bill swim through the air, and dive into the couch. And when he leaves Nancy Lee’s apartment block, he sails one of the stairs. Touches like these make watching the cartoon a mind-blowing experience. I don’t think it’s considered a classic, but to me it should be.

Watch ‘Barnacle Bill’ yourself and tell me what you think:

This is Talkartoon No. 9
To the previous Talkartoon: Dizzy Dishes
To the next Talkartoon: Swing, You Sinners!

‘Barnacle Bill’ is available on the French DVD Box Set ‘Betty Boop Coffret Collector’

Director: Dave Fleischer
Release Date: August 9, 1930
Stars: Betty Boop (unnamed)
Rating: ★★★
Review:

Still from 'Dizzy Dishes' featuring Betty Boop and the waiter

‘Dizzy Dishes’ is a  jazzy cartoon about a waiter in a restaurant who should bring a roast duck to an extremely hungry customer, but who does anything but serving. While the waiter is performing on stage together with the roast duck, the hungry customer eats almost everything in sight.

The cartoon is very typical of Fleischer’s early Talkartoons. The animation is rather crude, and outside the songs there’s no lip synch, but there’s a lot of metamorphosis going on. Apart from that, practically everything can grow hands and feet, creating an urban and surreal world, very different from the merry worlds of nature and farmlands of the rival Walt Disney studio.

‘Dizzy Dishes’ is not too interesting, but it marks the debut of Betty Boop. She’s introduced as an unnamed and rather fat and unappealing dog singer. The animation on her is erratic to say the least, but it already contains some specks of eroticism. She was designed as  a caricature of singer Helen Kane, who was the first to sing ‘I Wanna Be Loved By You’, which contains the Boop-Boop-a-Doop-phrases with which Betty Boop became famous.

Betty Boop’s creation is attributed to animator Grim Natwick (1890-1990), a veteran animator, who, according to his fellow animators, was the only animator able to handle the feminine figure. Interestingly enough, Grim Natwick later worked for Walt Disney, animating Snow White, the first realistically animated heroine, in ‘Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs’ (1937).

Betty Boop was in fact the only successful cartoon star conceived by the Fleischer studio after Koko the Clown. Later they had considerable success with Popeye and Superman, but these characters were owned by King Features and DC Comics, respectively.

Betty Boop would become more and more erotic, and she would soon rise to stardom, changing from dog to human in 1931, and getting her own series in 1932, which lasted until 1939. But by then the Fleischer’s years of surrealism and eroticism were long gone.

Watch ‘Dizzy Dishes’ yourself and tell me what you think:

This is Talkartoon No. 8
To the previous Talkartoon: Wise Flies
To the next Talkartoon: Barnacle Bill

‘Dizzy Dishes’ is available on the French DVD Box Set ‘Betty Boop Coffret Collector’

Director: Dave Fleischer
Release Date: May 14, 1937
Stars: Betty Boop, Pudgy
Rating: ★★★★★
Review:

Still from 'Pudgy Picks A Fight' featuring Pudgy terrified by a cuckoo clockBetty has bought a fox. Pudgy, jealous of the lifeless animal, starts a fight, but after knocking his enemy down, he thinks he has killed it.

What follows is a great depiction of his feeble attempts to revive his foe, and then his genuine horror when he realizes he has killed the animal. His feeling of guilt turns his surroundings into a nightmare.

‘Pudgy picks a Fight’ is undoubtedly the most inspired of all Pudgy cartoons, the nightmare sequence being particularly imaginative. Its theme of guilt and imagination running away with it would be revisited by Disney in ‘Donald’s Crime’ (1945) with equally impressive results.

Watch ‘Pudgy Picks A Fight’ yourself and tell me what you think:

This is Betty Boop cartoon No. 62
To the previous Betty Boop cartoon: Pudgy Takes a Bow-Wow
To the next Betty Boop cartoon: The Impractical Joker

‘Pudgy Picks A Fight’ is available on the French DVD Box Set ‘Betty Boop Coffret Collector’

Director: Dave Fleischer
Release Date: April 24, 1936
Stars: Betty Boop, Pudgy
Rating: ★★½
Review:

Still from 'We Did It' featuring a little black kittenWhen Betty is gone three kittens cause havoc in Betty’s house. Pudgy gets the blame until the kittens plead guilty.

The three kittens are doubtless inspired by the Walt Disney’s Academy Award-winning cartoon ‘Three Orphan Kittens‘ from 1935, from which it borrows a milk bottle gag. ‘We Did It’ is not half as elaborate as the Disney cartoon. Nevertheless, it shows the Fleischer’s growth in character animation through pantomime. Pudgy, like Pluto, is by design fit for character animation.

Unfortunately, the Fleischer Studio was very inconsistent and this cartoon was followed by many in which character animation is practically absent. And even in ‘We Did It’ the result of this technique is only mildly amusing and hardly impressing.

Watch ‘We Did It’ yourself and tell me what you think:

This is Betty Boop cartoon No. 49
To the previous Betty Boop cartoon: Betty Boop and Little Jimmy
To the next Betty Boop cartoon: A Song a Day

‘We Did It’ is available on the French DVD Box Set ‘Betty Boop Coffret Collector’

Director: Dave Fleischer
Release Date: September 21, 1934
Stars: Betty Boop, Pudgy
Rating: ★★½
Review:

Still from 'Betty Boop's Little Pal' featuring Betty Boop and PudgyBetty and her little dog Pudgy are picnicking.

However, Pudgy wrecks the picnic, so Betty sends him home. Unfortunately he’s immediately caught by a dog catcher. Luckily, Pudgy manages to escape together with some other dogs.

‘Betty Boop’s Little Pal’ marks the debut of Betty’s little pup Pudgy, even though he remains unnamed in this cartoon. Though more cute than funny, Pudgy was to be Betty Boop’s most entertaining and long-lasting co-star of the Hays Code era. He was a real character, and, like Pluto, he behaved like a real dog, although he’s as anatomically incorrect as Pluto is. Compared to Pluto, Pudgy is younger, cuter and naughtier. He is as much a child character as a dog character, while Pluto is more mature. Pudgy starred in 23 cartoons, only retiring in 1939. Unfortunately, none of his cartoons can be considered classics, save one: ‘Pudgy Picks a Fight‘ from 1937.

‘Betty Boop’s Little Pal’  is very typical of a trend in the Fleischer films that caught on during 1934 (after the Hays Code was in practice): the story line is very clear, which is a great improvement upon most earlier cartoons, but at the same time all nonsense, weirdness, surrealism, sex and jazz have vanished, too (there’s only one surreal gag, of a car scratching itself). Therefore, this and the other Betty Boop cartoons from 1934 and later are remarkably boring compared with the earlier entries.

Watch ‘Betty Boop’s Little Pal’ yourself and tell me what you think:

This is Betty Boop cartoon No. 31
To the previous Betty Boop cartoon: There’s Something About a Soldier
To the next Betty Boop cartoon: Betty Boop’s Prize Show

‘Betty Boop’s Little Pal’ is available on the French DVD Box Set ‘Betty Boop Coffret Collector’

Director: Dave Fleischer
Release Date: March 2, 1934
Stars: Betty Boop, Koko the Clown
Rating: ★★★★½
Review:
Still from 'Ha! Ha! Ha!' featuring Koko the Clown having a tootache and Betty Boop

‘Ha! Ha! Ha! was the last cartoon to feature Koko the Clown.

It opens with supposedly Max Fleischer’s hand drawing Betty Boop on a sheet of paper. When Max leaves the studio, Koko comes out of the inkwell for the very last time, and starts eating the candy bar Max had left on the table.

Almost immediately he develops a tootache, so Betty draws a dentist room to operate him, herself acting as the (most sexy) dentist. She first tries to pull Koko’s tooth, but when that doesn’t work, she tries laughing gas.

The laughing gas soon pervades everything, causing not only Koko and herself to laugh, but even the clock, the typewriter, and outside – in the real world – the mailbox, the cars and real people. Even a bridge and some graves join in.

This enjoyable and weird cartoon mixes animation, photographed backgrounds and live action to great results, and it forms a great finale to Koko’s long career, which had lasted fifteen years. Although Koko never had any great roles near Betty, he would be missed, for without Koko and Bimbo (who had his last screen appearance in ‘I Heard‘ from September 1933), Betty became a surprisingly inoffensive and boring character, and none of her remaining 62 films evoked the same fun as ‘Ha! Ha! Ha!’.

Watch ‘Ha! Ha! Ha!’ yourself and tell me what you think:

This is Betty Boop cartoon No. 25
To the previous Betty Boop cartoon: Red Hot Mama
To the next Betty Boop cartoon: Betty in Blunderland

‘Ha! Ha! Ha!’ is available on the French DVD Box Set ‘Betty Boop Coffret Collector’

Director: Dave Fleischer
Release Date: October 6, 1933
Stars: Betty Boop
Rating: ★★½
Review:

Still from 'Morning Noon and Night' featuring Betty Boop unwillingly dancing with some catsRubinoff and his orchestra play the score for this cartoon about a bunch of cats (‘the tom kat social club’) who threaten Betty Boop’s yard full of birds. This orchestra, led by the Russian violinist David Rubinoff, played sweet pseudo-classical music, and this sets the tone for the short.

Based on Franz von Suppé’s overture ‘Ein Morgen, ein Mittag und ein Abend in Wien’ (1844), ‘Morning Noon and Night’ is a very sweet cartoon. It opens with some typical Fleischer gags, like a sun with a hangover, but the overall mood is rather corny and lacking humor. The short is very Silly Symphony-like, and particularly reminiscent of Walt Disney’s ‘Birds in Spring‘ from earlier that year. Both feature a fledgling running away, and encountering a threat.

The cartoon’s finale is a battle scene in which all birds come to the rescue, most notably a boxing rooster. Battle scenes like this could be seen in e.g. the 1932 Silly Symphonies ‘Bugs in Love‘, ‘King Neptune‘, and ‘Babes in the Woods’. Although ‘Morning, Noon and Night’ doesn’t come near any of these Disney cartoons in quality, it shows that the Disney style was invading the Fleischer studio, and that the brothers were getting more ambitious. This ambition would lead to the launch of the Color Classics in 1934.

Betty is more cute than sexy in this cartoon. The difference in mood between this cartoon and that of ‘I Heard‘ is enormous, although that cartoon was released only one month earlier. The reinforced Hays code would only be installed in the summer of 1934, but ‘Morning, Noon and Night’ shows that already by 1933 its morals had become more and more present in the American film industry’s output.

Watch ‘Morning Noon and Night’ yourself and tell me what you think:

This is Betty Boop cartoon No. 20
To the previous Betty Boop cartoon: I Heard
To the next Betty Boop cartoon: Betty Boop’s Hallowe’en Party

‘Morning Noon and Night’ is available on the French DVD Box Set ‘Betty Boop Coffret Collector’

Enter your email address to follow this blog and receive notifications of new posts by email.

Join 765 other followers

Bookmark and Share

Follow TheGrob on Twitter

Categories