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Director: Dave Fleischer
Release Date: February 2, 1934
Stars: Betty Boop
Rating: ★★★★
Review:

Red Hot Mamma © Max FleischerIt’s a cold winter night, and to get warm Betty lights a fire.

Soon, however, it gets too hot, and the fire roasts her two chickens. Betty herself soon dreams she’s in hell, dressed only in her nightgown. In a short scene the fires of hell reveal her legs through her nightgown. Later, when the devils watch her perform a sexy dance to a jazzy score, they get hot. But Betty gives them the cold shoulder (literally), which causes them and all hell to freeze completely over.

‘Red Hot Mamma’ is one of the last Betty Boop cartoons to glorify her sexuality, and to have a jazzy score. However, the humor is already much less compelling than from the 1931-1933 cartoons, lacking the weird surrealism of that period. As a result ‘Red Hot Mamma’ is amusing, but far less funny than it might have been, were it produced only a few months earlier…

Watch ‘Red Hot Mamma’ yourself and tell me what you think:

This is Betty Boop cartoon No. 25
To the previous Betty Boop cartoon: She Wronged Him Right
To the next Betty Boop cartoon: Ha! Ha! Ha!

‘Betty Boop’s May Party’ is available on the Blu-Ray Betty Boop: The Essential Collection Vol. 2 and on the French DVD Box Set ‘Betty Boop Coffret Collector’

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Director: Ub Iwerks
Release Date:
 November 11, 1929
Rating: ★★★
Review:

Hell's Bells © Walt DisneyWith its fourth Silly Symphony, ‘Hells Bells’, the Disney studio returned to the macabre that inspired the series’ very first entry.

Set in hell itself, it starts with a fire, bats and a spider swooping into the camera, and images of the three-headed dog Cerberus and some dragons. The main part however is devoted to a large devil, surrounded by numerous smaller ones playing music and dancing to it.

This section involves endless animation cycles. Luckily, there’s one great shot with a devil casting a huge shadow (looking forward to a similar, if much more elaborate scene in ‘The Goddess of Spring’ (1934). There’s also a great gag involving a crooked devil, and a weird one in which we watch devils milking a dragon-cow(?!). Despite its evil scenery, the whole atmosphere is remarkably merry.

‘Hells Bells’ is most noteworthy for its last part, in which the dance routine makes place for a tiny story, in which the large devil demands a smaller one to offer itself as dog food to Cerberus. The little devil refuses and flees, and finally manages to kick the large one into the fires of hell. Over the coming years, stories like these would overtake the song and dance routines of the Silly Symphonies, finally replacing them altogether.

Watch ‘Hell’s Bells’ yourself and tell me what you think:

This is Silly Symphony No. 4
To the previous Silly Symphony: Springtime
To the next Silly Symphony: The Merry Dwarfs

Director: Friz Freleng
Release Date: August 7, 1954
Stars: Tweety & Sylvester
Rating: ★★★★
Review:

Satan's Waitin' © Warner BrothersDuring a chase Sylvester falls down and ceases to be.

He goes straight to hell, where a bulldog-like devil tells him he can return to earth because he has still eight lives left. Unfortunately, back on earth Sylvester loses his lives fast, especially during a chase at a carnival.

‘Satan’s Waitin’ shows some similarities to the Tom & Jerry cartoon ‘Heavenly Puss‘ (1949), including bulldog devils and a heavenly escalator. Nevertheless, it’s one of the most original and most inspired of the Tweety and Sylvester cartoons, on par with the celebrated ‘Birds Anonymous’ from 1957.

Watch ‘Satan’s Waitin’’ yourself and tell me what you think:

Directors: William Hanna & Joseph Barbera
Release Date: July 9, 1949
Stars: Tom & Jerry
Rating: ★★★★★ ♕
Review:

Heavenly Puss © MGMWhen, during a typical chase, Tom is crushed by a falling piano, he unexpectedly dies

His spirit goes up to heaven on a gigantic golden escalator. But he’s not allowed to go with the heavenly express, because of what he has done to Jerry. Nevertheless, he’s allowed one hour back on earth to persuade Jerry to sign a forgiveness certificate. If he doesn’t make it, it will be hell for him.

After loads of struggle and cheating Tom finally succeeds, but it is too late and Tom falls into hell. Fortunately it’s all a dream, and when he wakes up Tom rushes to Jerry’s home kissing and hugging the completely bewildered mouse.

‘Heavenly Puss’ is one of the all-time best Tom & Jerry cartoons. It draws completely on the two characters and their well-established love/hate-relationship. The silent acting is particularly superb and Tom’s feeble attempts to convince Jerry against a ticking deadline are both hilarious and chilling. His agony is heartfelt and his pantomimed pleas are moving.

‘Heavenly Puss’ may cover familiar grounds (comparable cartoons include Disney’s ‘Pluto’s Judgement Day‘ from 1935, and Paramount’s ‘A Self-Made Mongrel’ from 1945), it’s execution is both brilliant and original and a great example of both silent comedy and character animation.

Watch ‘Heavenly Puss’ yourself and tell me what you think:

This is Tom & Jerry cartoon No. 42
To the previous Tom & Jerry cartoon: Hatch Up Your Troubles
To the next Tom & Jerry cartoon: The Cat and the Mermouse

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