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This is a bit different in that the famous Max Fleischer, who drew and
produced these great animated shorts, interacts with Betty. It's all
set up by a reporter (played by Max' brother Dave) wanting an
Max draws Betty (very quickly) and she suddenly comes to life. She calls him, "Uncle Maxie."
What we wind up seeing are some clips from a few other of Miss Boop's cartoons, such as the one she imitates a few singers, such as Fanny Bryce, and then imitates a Hawaiian Hula dancer. This was right before the censors put a little more clothing on her. All she's wearing on top is a lei, and, yes, they draw her breasts in there, albeit not prominently displayed. Her hip movements were pretty sexy, too.
To me, however, the highlight was when Cab Calloway sings with her in a clip from "The Old Man Of The Mountain." The song Cab and Betty do is fantastic, and elevates this short from so-so to good.
"Betty Boop's Rise to Fame" is one of the best Betty Boop cartoons and
it's held up very, very well over the years. I think part of this is
because the film gives you a look at two of the big driving forces
behind these cartoons--Max and David Fleischer. I think it also helps
that the strange style is a nice look at the origins of the Boop
cartoons--a look back to the earlier Fleischer Brothers cartoons.
This is a part live-action short. A reporter (Dave Fleischer) is interviewing the studio chief (Max Fleischer) and Max is talking about his beloved character, Betty Boop. But instead of just showing her, he quickly draws her and she comes to life---stepping off the page and begins talking with the reporter. She also then performs a few of her greatest hits (actually clips from "Stopping the Show", "Betty Boop's Bamboo Isle" and "The Old Man of the Mountain").
As far as when this cartoon was made, it might interest you to know it couldn't have been made only two months later unless there were massive changes. That's because in July, 1934, the new strengthened Production Code was adopted--and films were 'cleaned up'. In regard to Betty, that meant MORE CLOTHES and LESS CURVES! So, when you see her dancing the topless hula in this one (they do cover her breasts with a lei), you never would have seen that had the film come out after the Code. And, all the countless times Betty strips down and changes clothes, they would have been a lot less suggestive. Let's face it, sex appeal and titillation made Betty Boop and this is certainly her last hurrah, so to speak.
I also love her going in and out of the inkwell--hearkening back to the Into the Inkwell series the Fleischers did in the 1920s and early 30s where characters like KoKo routinely would step out of the inkwell to start the cartoon.
Overall, this is a nice nostalgic look at Betty--one that is filled with amazing animation, live action and fun.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
Betty Boop's Rise to Fame is basically a "cheater" which is a collection of clips from previous episodes surrounded by new footage. In this one, we're in live action with studio head Max Fleischer talking to a reporter (his brother, Dave) about his famous creation. Then he draws her and he requests her performance. So as Max gets the scenes from Stopping the Show, Bamboo Isle, and The Old Man of the Mountain, we see Betty segue to those scenes as the clips show. After the "You've Got to Hi-De-Hi" number with the Cab Calloway voiced-Old Man, they both get out of the painted setting into the live-action one with the Old Man really chasing her. Max sees this and has Betty go back to her inkwell which spills into Max's paper and the reporter's face as Betty asks, "Well, did I give it to you?" "You sure did!" replies the reporter as we iris out...This was a nice introduction to this charming and sexy cartoon character when I first saw this at the beginning of the "Betty Boop Special Collector's Edition Vol. 1" VHS tape from Republic Pictures Home Video. While the last two shorts showcased here were also shown later on, Stopping the Show appeared on Vol. 2. Recommended for anyone wanting to see the Fleischers on screen together.
Betty Boop's Rise to Fame (1934)
** 1/2 (out of 4)
This short starts off with Max Fleischer being asked a few questions by a reporter who basically wants to know a few things about Betty Boop. We then "see" some examples of her, which are just clips from three previously made shorts (STOPPING THE SHOW, BETTY BOOP'S BAMBOO ISLE and THE OLD MAN OF THE MOUNTAIN). This short works best when we actually get to see Fleischer drawing up Betty and getting to answer a few questions about her. I thought this here was the highlight of the film but there's no question that the clips are also good enough for what they are. I'm just the type who hates to see editing down things and I just think all three clips would have been better watching them in their entirety. Since all three are available it's easy to see them so that leaves this one here worth watching for the interview footage. The best joke actually happens towards the end when we're back in the studio and Betty jumps into some ink and causes another mess.
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