Max and Dave Fleischer Were the Opposite of Disney
Walt Disney was good at what he tried to do, but he was not really for adults. At the same time that Disney was animating his Mickey Mouse cartoons, Max and Dave Fleischer presented a much more adult vision of life in their Betty Boop cartoons. These were done before the Hays Office descended on Hollywood with their black pall of censorship. Yesterday, I watched their “The Old Man of the Mountain” on YouTube. It is about a luscious young thing who goes up against the Old Man of the Mountain (sung by Cab Calloway and His Orchestra) and starts getting chased by him. At one point, he rips off her dress, though all we see of Betty is the lower edge of her frilly panties as she hides behind a tree. (Holy Miscegenation!)
Watch the cartoon for yourself:
In another Boop mcartoon, Betty attempts to perform a tooth extraction on Koko the Clown. By accident, she winds up infecting the whole town with Laughing Gas. The cartoon, entitled “Ha! Ha! Ha!” was banned in Britain because of its casualness about drugs. In another cartoon, “Betty Boop’s Big Boss,” Betty appears to endorse the mauling of secretaries as sexual provender by big fat bosses. You can see these cartoons for free any time by Googling their titles, as in “YouTube Ha! Ha! Ha! Betty Boop.”
I actually like Walt Disney’s work, but I think Betty Boop is pretty hot stuff. At one point in “The Old Man of the Mountain,” a cripple on crutches espies Betty’s curvaceous legs, gives them a thorough viewing, and then leaves without his crutches, which go off by themselves.
“Wanna Be a Member? Wanna Be a Member?”
Today, Martine and I went to see a program entitled “The Greatest Cartoons Ever!” at the Alex Theater in Glendale. It was the 6th Annual show of cartoons put on by the Alex Film Society. Most of the cartoons were outstanding, but the one that caught my eye was a pre-Code black and white cartoon released in 1931 by the Fleischer Studios. Directed by Dave Fleischer, it starred Bimbo the dog and a very early Betty Boop.
Bimbo is trucking down the street when he falls through an open manhole, slides down a ramp into a strange kind of funhouse, and is accosted (see picture) by a bunch of strange members of a secret society who ask him: “Wanna be a member? Wanna be a member?” When Bimbo loudly answers, “No,” he is sent further into the funhouse where there are various life-threatening traps including knives, an anvil-like device full of sharp blades, and other threatening traps.
Several times, he is asked by the members of the secret society whether he wants to become a member. Each time he vociferously refuses. Finally, one of the members takes off his costume and is revealed to be Betty Boop, which makes Bimbo change his tune. He becomes a member, and all the garbed members are revealed to be Betty Boops.
There is one difference, however. Betty and her backup dancers all have floppy dog ears. No matter: Bimbo is now delighted to join with such “pips.”
If you have six minutes, you can see the cartoon on YouTube. It’s pretty wild.