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Out of the Inkwell (1938)

5.8
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Ratings: 5.8/10 from 263 users  
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At the Fleischer studio, a black janitor, learning to hypnotize, conjures Betty Boop out of the inkwell and tries some suggestions on her. But two can play at that game...

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Cast

Uncredited cast:
Bonnie Poe ...
Betty Boop (voice) (uncredited)
Oscar Polk ...
Janitor (uncredited)
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Storyline

At the Fleischer studio, a black janitor, learning to hypnotize, conjures Betty Boop out of the inkwell and tries some suggestions on her. But two can play at that game... Written by Rod Crawford <puffinus@u.washington.edu>

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22 April 1938 (USA)  »

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1.37 : 1
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User Reviews

 
Incredibly weird...and just a bit offensive.
22 September 2013 | by (Bradenton, Florida) – See all my reviews

The title of this film is a reference to a series of cartoons from the 1920s and very early 30s where Fleischer Brothers cartoon characters (such as KoKo) are combined with live action. And, the characters seem to pop right out of the inkwell--and pop back again when the cartoon is finished.

This incredibly strange cartoon begins with a black janitor goofing off on the job--reading about hypnosis instead of working. Using these new powers, he creates Betty from the inkwell and then torments her. However, Betty is sick of it and decides to give it back to him...and then some.

This short is a nice combination of live action, stop-motion and traditional animation. Plus, it's very creative. But, the black man is less than a man--more like a caricature. In many ways, this guy is like Stepin Fetchit or Willie Best--lazy, stupid and to be laughed at. This is awfully sad and offensive. Interestingly, though, in many other ways, the Fleischers were VERY progressive in other cartoons--often featuring famous black musical acts of the day (such as Cab Calloway) when others wouldn't. An odd and interesting curio.


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