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I really like some of these Betty Boop cartoons. Many of the early ones
deal with the overlap of evil, sex and hallucinogens, often mixed with
jazz and Black men. This is one of the tamer ones in terms of the evil
tone: she's in control where often she isn't.
But it is worth seeing quite apart from that because it is pre-code Betty. The animator had a real sense of sexual movement, and in spite of her dog's face this is one enticing body. When she calls the demon-bears to her party, she does so by bending over and wiggling her panty- covered butt at us three times. That wouldn't happen in a couple years.
Ted's Evaluation -- 3 of 3: Worth watching.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
This has it's moments as an early Pre-code Betty Boop. On Halloween a
scarecrow finds a printed invitation to Betty's house for a party. He
shows up, and after warming himself he assists her in setting up her
home. Like most of the plots of Fleischer's cartoons, the initial
structure is jettisoned for new incidents and characters to take over.
The last we see of the Scarecrow is his putting up wall pictures of
witches and black cats from special paint cans labeled "witch paint"
and "cat paint". He flicks these on the walls, and the witches appear
on brooms while the cats appear with their backs humped up. Betty is
shown coring pumpkins (actually a cat descends with a device to do the
coring, but Betty acts tired after each one is cored).
Soon the guests arrive, and we see them bobbing for apples - one gets knocked out by an apple he is supposed to catch with his teeth. Then, about two thirds of the way through the cartoon, we see a gorilla arrive. YOU TUBE suggests that this particular cartoon was taken off the television shows of the 1950s and 1960s because it is a racial stereotype (presumably for African - Americans), but it does need stretching to see that. The idea of a gorilla as a symbol for a Black male is an old one, but this gorilla has nothing suggestive of what racial stereotyping would suggest. It just is a bullying gorilla, who first hits a tree (hurting a behind that suddenly appears), and blackening the eyes of a inoffensive owl. He then sees the party, and appropriates all the apples in a bobbing for apples. But soon he is being pursued by goblins and witches, apparently directed at him by a mysterious big cat. He is eventually chased out of the party, to the happiness of the other guests. But was that supposed to suggest the stereotypical superstition associated with male African-Americans too? I still find it quite a stretch.
It is not a bad cartoon, but not one of the best efforts by Fleischer's studio.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
I try quitting the Boop but she just keeps pulling me right back in! Oh, that old bobblehead Betty! She never could quite keep herself out of bizarre and super-freaky situations in her weird and wonderful little monochrome world! Who wouldn't ever wanna love to go to *her* Halloween party? I know I would! I loved the impressive detailed opening scene and the effect with the clouds passing over the full moon and taking on new and uncanny Halloweeny shapes! The scarecrow reminded me a little of another one that features in an awesome scene in a great Ub Iwerks animation called "Jack Frost." I like all the clever and inventive little ways in which Betty gets all her festive decorations for the party done! I really enjoy the scene where she lights the pumpkins, the lighting makes them look really diabolic! It's always so cool the way everything that happens is in a beat, the sense of rhythm with everyone constantly rocking in one big motion always helps a lot to make these kinds of shorts fun. Being pre-code, as well as a Halloween-themed short I was expecting some really crazy kooky psychedelic, all the denizens of hell type s**t! But this wasn't hardly spooky or surreal at all, nothing like the truly special and infamous best Fleisher shorts that all fans of them know about. It's still a good one though, the animation and detail of everything is noticeably well done. Even though it never quite degenerates into an explosive monsterfest, it does get pretty great towards the end as all the Halloween decorations come to life and creepy ghosts swirling around in the dark scare the bejeezus out of the mean, party-crashing Frankenstein-like gorilla who I thought was really lame, until he hightails it the heck outta there! And it was a nice twist at the end when it's revealed that the mysterious black cat who unleashed all the mayhem upon the gorilla was really Betty in a costume! Did not see that one coming, if nothing else, these particular weird old shorts were always unpredictable. I thought the ring around the cat's foot was a charming touch. ::: I heard this one was banned because around the three minutes and ten seconds mark you can see her undergarments.. I've seen a coloured version of this that if you look closer at, you can tell that the cartoon itself has been carefully redrawn as well. And in my opinion that doesn't do this antiquated and distinctive animation style any favours. It looks more special in the black and white in a unique and vital way. It's like looking at crude copies of old classic paintings that lack the subtlety and texture of the originals. And there's no way in a million years all Betty Boop cartoons end on a positive note, that's total bull. But oh well, who cares! See ya, Happy Halloween y'all!!!
When I downloaded this film for free from archive.org, it indicated
this was a so-called 'banned cartoon'. Well, I really cannot see why
this would be the case. I know that the Pre-Code version of Betty Boop
(before mid-1934) was sexier than the later one---though so many Boop
cartoons feature this sexier cartoon and weren't listed as banned on
the site. Or, perhaps there was something objectionable and that
portion was excised. All I know is that I noticed nothing objectionable
in this cute cartoon.
The cartoon, not surprisingly, is about Betty Boop having a Halloween party. It goes from her and some friends preparing, the party itself and a nasty gorilla* crashing the party and terrorizing everyone. Fortunately, like all Boop cartoons, it ends on a positive note.
All in all, this is a fun cartoon. A bit dated perhaps but still fun. Like all these cartoons, the animation quality is terrific and there is a wacky sense of humor that was pure 1930s fun. If you do see the cartoon, you might notice an NRA symbol at the beginningthis was to indicate the film was in compliance with the National Recovery Acta piece of legislation that was ruled unconstitutional and so was only BRIEFLY seen tacked on to the beginning of some films in 1933.
*This is the same gorilla that was the villain in "The Herring Murder Case" which debuted two years earlier.
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