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Director: Dave Fleischer
Release Date: September 23, 1932
Stars: Betty Boop, Bimbo
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:
‘Betty Boop’s Bamboo Isle’ is available on the French DVD Box Set ‘Betty Boop Coffret Collector’
Director: Jack Hannah
Release Date: April 8, 1949
Stars: Donald Duck, Bootle Beetle
Bootle Beetle, introduced in ‘Bootle Beetle‘ from 1947, returns to tell us about his relationship with ‘the captain’, and old seafaring version of Donald Duck. He relates how he and ‘the captain’ were shipwrecked and stranded on a desert island.
Bootle Beetle never was a funny character, and this cartoon, too, suffers: Bootle beetle is simply too cute. Moreover, his relationship to Donald is never explained, nor the fact why Donald is suddenly a captain. To make things worse, the cartoon is painstakingly slow. For example, it contains a very long gag on a coconut, unfavorably reminiscent of the overlong gags of the earliest character animation-based cartoons of the mid-1930’s, like ‘Mickey Plays Papa‘ (1934) or ‘Moving Day‘ (1936).
Watch ‘Sea Salts’ yourself and tell me what you think:
This is Donald Duck cartoon No. 76
To the previous Donald Duck cartoon: Donald’s Happy Birthday
To the next Donald Duck cartoon: Winter Storage
Director: Paul Driessen
Release Date: 1985
We watch a castaway on an island and his reflection. The castaway is visited by a female companion and rescued by a ship. Or is he? The reflection tells another tale…
This simple story is told without dialogue and with the greatest economy. Like ‘Ei om zeep’ (The Killing of an Egg’) and ‘Het treinhuisje’ (Home on the Rails) we watch a single tableau. In ‘Spiegeleiland’ Driessen takes this format even further, limiting his action to a circle with only a tiny island within.
The result is without doubt one of Driessen’s strongest and most poetic films. Driessen would reuse this method of parallel depiction of reality and fantasy to a great effect in the tragic ‘The Boy Who Saw the Iceberg’ from 2000.
Watch ‘Spiegeleiland’ yourself and tell me what you think:
‘Spiegeleiland’ is available on the DVD ‘The Dutch Films of Paul Driessen’
Director: William Hanna & Joseph Barbera
Release Date: July 7, 1951
Stars: Tom & Jerry
In what must be the film’s highlight Jerry fools him by pretending to be a cannibalistic native, but in the end both characters have to flee for real cannibals, the first human beings we see in their entirety in a Tom & Jerry film
‘His Mouse Friday’ must be one of the least inspired Tom & Jerry cartoons ever. Not only are the two completely out of place on the tropical island, the comedy feels tired, the humor is offensive, and the designs of our heroes mediocre. Tom’s designs in the opening scene are particularly sloppy. It seems that these designs inspired the Gene Deitch cartoons, because they look remarkably similar, which is no advertisement.
Unfortunately, ‘His Mouse Friday’ is no isolated incident. From mid-1951 on, we see the quality of the series gradually deteriorate: character designs get simpler and sloppier, backgrounds less lush, and stories more routine or uninspired. There were still some great Tom & Jerry cartoons to come, and even two Oscar winners, but one nonetheless gets the impression that by mid-1951 their heyday was over.
Watch ‘His Mouse Friday’ yourself and tell me what you think:
Director: Dan Gordon
Release Date: April 26, 1943
The Superman cartoon ‘Jungle Drums’ blends the war theme with the adventure setting of ‘The Mummy Strikes‘.
This time the setting is a vague African island, populated by scary natives who are under control of some mysterious Nazis. They shoot an American plane out of the sky, which contains Lois and some secrets concerning the American fleet. While the natives try to burn Lois, Clark Kent/Superman only arrives just in time to save her.
Superman beats the Nazis, while Lois warns the US Air Force against Nazi submarines threatening the fleet. The last shot is that of an angered Hitler listening to the radio how his plans were frustrated.
Although this short, like most Superman cartoons, contains a weak and badly build story, it stands out for its great shots of scary natives, with their original camera angles, stark color designs and large shadows. The end result is arguably Superman’s best film.
Watch ‘Jungle Drums’ yourself and tell me what you think:
This is Superman film No. 15
To the previous Superman film: The Mummy Strikes
To the next Superman film: Underground World