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Directors: John Foster & George Rufle
Release Date: March 31, 1933
Stars: Tom and Jerry
When it starts snowing (in a scene which has to be seen to be believed) the train gets lost and ends in a wood, where a lumberjack is fed on roast chicken by a stereotyped Chinese cook with rather original cooking methods.
Apart from Gene Rodemich’s excellent musical score, there’s little to enjoy in ‘Happy Hoboes’, with its silent era animation, stream-of-consciousness-like string of events, and lack of gags. However, the snowing scene, in which two clouds transform into two winged women having a cushion fight, is so curious and so original, it’s definitely worth watching, even if the rest of the cartoon is not.
Watch ‘Happy Hoboes’ yourself and tell me what you think:
‘Happy Hoboes’ is available on the DVD ‘The Complete Animated Adventures of Van Beuren Studio’s Tom and Jerry’
Director: Dave Fleischer
Release Date: July 1, 1932
Stars: Betty Boop, Bimbo, Koko the Clown
The show starts with Betty Boop singing a short song, followed by Bimbo who does some juggling, and Koko performing some rotoscoped tap dancing on Felix Arndt’s song Nola.
This short is unique in the Talkartoon canon for containing no less than two running gags: one is a tiny cat singing the old-fashioned song “Silver Threads Among the Gold” between the main acts, the other is a kangaroo who desperately tries to go to the toilet (or is he?).
The cartoon is lively, but pales when compared to other, more surreal entries of 1931-1933. It was the Fleischer’s last Talkartoon, and the first to carry Betty Boop’s name in the title. The character had become Fleischer’s main star, being second to Mickey Mouse only. Thus, in her next cartoon, ‘Stopping the Show‘, Betty Boop would star her own series, which would last until 1939.
Watch ‘The Betty Boop Limited’ yourself and tell me what you think:
‘The Betty Boop Limited’ is available on the French DVD Box Set ‘Betty Boop Coffret Collector’
Director: Dave Fleischer
Release Date: November 7, 1931
Stars: Betty Boop, Rudy Vallee
This short starts with Kitty (whom we can recognize as Betty Boop) waiting for the train, until she’s picked up by a mail hook. Enter Rudy Vallee in bowler hat and with old-fashioned mustache, singing the title tune, accompanied by the bouncing ball. The cartoon ends with a particular fat Kitty involved in random events.
‘Kitty from Kansas City’ is important for two reasons: it’s the first cartoon in which Betty Boop is completely human, and second, it introduces a new story element, which was to be used frequently in the years to come: that of an old man fancying her. This time it’s an old station master.
Watch ‘Kitty from Kansas City’ yourself and tell me what you think:
‘Kitty from Kansas City’ is available on the French DVD Box Set ‘Betty Boop Coffret Collector’
Director: Dave Fleischer
Release Date: April 3, 1931
Stars: Bimbo, Betty Boop
She confronts him and in the end Bimbo unwillingly reunites with his wife, fleeing with her into the distance on the locomotive.
‘The Bum Bandit’ lacks the wild surrealism of earlier Talkartoons, like ‘Barnacle Bill‘ and ‘Mysterious Mose‘ (both 1930), and is thus less interesting to watch. The best scene is when Bimbo practices shooting, e.g. shooting a cow from the sky. There is also some nice and flexible animation on the riding train. Betty Boop has a distinctly different voice here, which was not repeated after this cartoon.
Watch ‘The Bum Bandit’ yourself and tell me what you think:
This is Talkartoon No. 18
To the previous Talkartoon: The Cow’s Husband
To the next Talkartoon: The Male Man
‘The Bum Bandit’ is available on the French DVD Box Set ‘Betty Boop Coffret Collector’
Director: Walt Disney
Release Date: October 1, 1929
Stars: Mickey Mouse, Minnie Mouse
He sings ‘I’m working on the railroad‘ and even plays the spaghetti he’s eating, treating it like a harp. Minnie comes along, playing the violin. At this point the cartoon harks back to Mickey’s success cartoon ‘Steamboat Willie‘ (1928), with Mickey playing music on some ducks and a dog.
After this sequence, Minnie rides Mickey’s train to the tune of Yankee Doodle, but on a very steep hill the wagon gets loose and falls backwards with Minnie on it. This sequence contains some wonderful rollercoaster-like perspective gags, reminiscent of the early Oswald the Lucky Rabbit cartoon ‘Trolley Troubles’ (1927).
‘Mickey’s Choo-Choo’ is remarkably fast and full of action. Moreover, it’s the first Disney cartoon to feature real dialogue. However, there’s hardly any plot and Mickey’s and Minnie’s designs are extraordinarily inconsistent, ranging from very sophisticated (with an extra facial line) to downright poor. The result is unfortunately only an average entry in the Mickey Mouse canon.
Watch ‘Mickey’s Choo-Choo’ yourself and tell me what you think:
Director: Friz Freleng
Release Date: June 24, 1950
Stars: Tweety & Sylvester
‘All a Bir-r-r-d’ is Tweety and Sylvester’s fourth cartoon and in this short their chase takes place in the baggage wagon of a train. Sylvester’s pursuit is extra hindered by a train conductor and a vicious bulldog.
‘All Abir-r-rd’ is a rather formulaic chase cartoon, and in no way among Tweety & Sylvester’s best. It is noteworthy however, for introducing Tweety’s theme song, sung, off course, by Tweety himself.
Watch ‘All a Bir-r-r-d’ yourself and tell me what you think: