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Mysterious Mose (1930)

6.7
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Ratings: 6.7/10 from 124 users  
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Betty Boop (with dog's ears) can't sleep on a scary night, so she sings the title song and meets the gentleman in question...a surreal version of Bimbo.

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Title: Mysterious Mose (1930)

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Cast

Uncredited cast:
Margie Hines ...
Betty Boop (voice) (uncredited)
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Storyline

Betty Boop (with dog's ears) can't sleep on a scary night, so she sings the title song and meets the gentleman in question...a surreal version of Bimbo. Written by Rod Crawford <puffinus@u.washington.edu>

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27 December 1930 (USA)  »

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(Western Electric Sound System)
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Connections

Referenced in Bones (2001) See more »

Soundtracks

MYSTERIOUS MOSE
Written by Walter Doyle
Sung by Mae Questel (as Betty Boop)
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User Reviews

 
Who he is, or what he is, nobody seems to know
9 February 2008 | by (Westchester County, NY) – See all my reviews

It's hard to believe that this amazing cartoon runs slightly less than six minutes, but it's true. Somehow those wildly imaginative animators at the Fleischer Studio managed to pack a lifetime supply of nightmare imagery, sexual gags, dreamlike transformations, and stupefying weirdness into this little black & white short. And they make it look easy! It takes a couple of viewings to absorb it all, and even then it leaves you feeling dazed.

First there was Walter Doyle's song: "Mysterious Mose" was recorded by several bands in the spring of 1930, several months before this film was released. It's a great, jaunty tune with a Halloween-ish atmosphere, all about a ghostly character who roams the land and scares everyone silly. The rendition by Bobby Dixon's Broadcasters is a really cool record, complete with slide whistles and other "haunted house" sound effects, but the version in this cartoon is even better. The mood set by the song, combined with the genius of these animators, makes for a genuinely eerie experience.

We first see a young woman huddled in her bed, pop-eyed with fright as the wind howls outside, and mysterious moans and thumps are heard. She's an embryonic version of Betty Boop, not yet the Betty we know. She's so scared her hair turns from black to gray and back again. A ghostly shape appears in bed alongside her, but when she lifts the covers she finds no one there. From under the sheets her nightdress jumps right off her body and she has to grab it back again. (A gag so nice they used it twice.) Even Betty's big toes come to life, huddle together, and pull the covers over themselves in fright. Why? In a trembly, girlish voice, Betty sings to us about that man of mystery who is roaming the land. We first see Mose in silhouette as his shadow glides along a fence. (He's "portrayed" by Bimbo, the studio's familiar dog character.) When a cat yowls at him, he smacks it so hard it's reduced to nine kittens! Soon thereafter, Mysterious Mose enters Betty's house through the keyhole, and then the serious hallucinations kick in.

The next couple of minutes are just wild, and better seen than described. Let it suffice to say that Mose sails through the air like a blob of ectoplasm, singing and bringing bric-a-brac to life; the moose-head over the fireplace joins in the song; a mouse pops out of Mose's shoe and plays the flute; a monkey pops out from under the rug and plays a trumpet; then several goldfish emerge from his trumpet and "swim" through the air before morphing together and transforming into a single, huge caterpillar, who finishes the song on his saxophone.

There's more, but you just have to see it for yourself. I love animation from the silent days right through the heyday of Bugs Bunny, but there was nobody who did it quite like the Fleischer gang, and MYSTERIOUS MOSE is one of their mini-masterpieces of Surrealism.


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