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Here's another Betty Boop "musical," this one featuring the Hawaiian
music of "The Royal Samoans." You have to give the people responsible
for these Boop cartoons - the Fleischer brothers, mainly - credit for
giving musicians another forum to show their talents. They weren't
biased, either, showing anybody from Louis Armstrong to classical
The music in here is excellent, too, especially some of the guitar work. They always have the characters in sync with the notes, too. Here, we see Betty doing her risqué hula dance and "Bimbo" imitating an island native singing a number, too.
You also get some the craziest visuals you'll ever seen. Betty's cartoons for good in that department. You just never know what absolutely crazy thing you'll see next. For instance, the motor of a small boat suddenly turns into dog, or the boat becomes a house that walks away - just insane stuff. Personally, I think it's all fascinating.
In some of Betty Boop's early films, the orchestra providing music in
the cartoon is shown (usually at the beginning). In this case, The
Royal Samoans (a Polynesian style group performing native style songs)
is featured. While there was a lot of racism in Hollywood at this time
(and a bit later in this film), I was impressed that Fleischer Brothers
Studio often featured non-white groups in these cartoonssuch as Cab
Calloway and The Royal Samoans.
The film begins with Bimbo the dog on his tiny boat. He zips about and the film is even more crazily anthropomorphic than usualand I loved the way his trip was shown on the map. Eventually, he lands on some South Seas island and meets a dark-skinned Betty Boop. They romance* and this little get together is interrupted by savages with bones through their hair. Now I am pretty sure some folks will blanch at the way these people are portrayedit is certainly NOT politically correct. Bimbo is scared and wants to fit in, so he darkens his face and puts a bone through his hair. The tribesmen love him and make him their leader. To celebrate, Betty dances a nice little tune---TOPLESS! She clearly isn't wearing a top but her boobs are covered with a lei. While this was quite acceptable at the time it was released, this never would have been allowed when the new Production Code was enforced starting in mid-1934and the Fleischers were forced to make Betty more family-friendly. I thought it was actually pretty innocent and fun. In the end, Bimbo's cover is brokenand there is a crazy chase that made me chuckle. All in all, I liked the music, I liked the cartoon and I recommend you see iteven with its flaws.
*When Betty Boop first began, she had long doggy ears. So, having her being romanced by Bimbo the dog wasn't a big deal. But once they made her 100% human, such interactions seemed really creepy. Apparently others also thought so and her romance with Bimbo soon fizzled. Later, Betty got a dog of her own (Pudgy)one that acted like a dog!
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
This short opens with a live action sequence of the 'Royal Samoans'
Pacific island musicians before the cartoon starts. After the credits
we see Bimbo playing his ukulele as his motorboat zooms around the
ocean; the land opening for him to pass between the Atlantic and
Pacific oceans! Eventually he lands on a Pacific island and meets a
girl who looks suspiciously like a Polynesian Betty. The two of them
paddle up a river till they are thrown from the boat into a clearing
surrounded by Ent-like trees. Soon some savages arrive but thanks to
some quick thinking Bimbo dons a disguise and Betty entertains
everybody with a hula dance!
This was another entertaining short; as usual the animation is highly inventive; I don't know where all the strange ideas came from but they are a lot of fun! It is clear that this cartoon was made before the Hayes Code came into effect as we see Betty dancing wearing nothing but a grass skirt and a lei to protect her modesty. This is certainly a fun short and it is far more inventive than most of today's animation.
The Betty Boop cartoons -- or "Talkartoons" were always superior musically to the competition but Disney usually was better in terms of animation. The Fleischer Brothers, however, were always ahead technically, both with sound (in 1924) and here, were the dance numbers are clear animated using rotoscope.
This is a great cartoon featuring Betty in all her glory. There is a phrase, "Anything can happen in a cartoon" and that describes the early Fleischers in general and the Betty Boop series in particular. These cartoons are animated insanity in some cases and are quite engaging for the viewer, because anything (well, almost anything) is likely to happen and the charm is trying to catch lots of little things. In print and available. Well worth watching. Recommended.
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