Betty Boop's Funeral (Betty Boop in Snow White)

BettyBoop'sFuneralDarkToons.jpg

Released
May 28, 2020
Running time
11:52
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Doug: You know what I think of when I hear "Betty Boop"? Freaky-ass funerals!

(The title for the Betty Boop cartoon in question is shown: Betty Boop in Snow White, from 1933)

Doug (vo): Betty Boop in Snow White was released in 1933, several years before Disney would do their version.

Doug: Both are animated classics, but for very different reasons. Let's take a look.

(The cartoon opens on a shot of a sashaying Betty Boop, with the following words displayed: "Featuring BETTY BOOP Assisted By BIMBO and KOKO")

Background singers: Made of pen and ink...

Doug (vo): I'm happy to say several Betty Boop cartoons...

Doug: ...are getting a bit of a resurgence because not only of how beautifully animated they are, but because how weirdly dark some of them are. And you're gonna see this one and probably draw comparisons to...

(Cut to a shot of the title for the 1932 Talkartoon...)

Doug (vo): ...Minnie the Moocher.

(Footage is shown of this cartoon, emphasizing a walrus who sings and dances to the song in the style of singer/bandleader Cab Calloway)

Doug (vo): That one is arguably a little bit more famous than this one...

(Cut to a clip of Calloway himself and his band as he dances in the exact same way)

Doug (vo): ...then praised for using rotoscope with Cab Calloway.

Doug: Uh, rotoscope, if you don't know, is the art of mimicking or even tracing over live action...

Doug (vo): ...so the animation seems more real.

Doug: While that one is an amazing cartoon and we'll definitely talk about it at another date, I think this one is better.

(A clip of Snow White is shown)

Doug (vo): There's a lot more creativity, a lot more surrealism, just as much going on in the background as in the foreground.

Doug: One of the reasons for that is because even though...

(The credits for this cartoon is shown, with Dave Fleischer, Max's brother, as director and Roland C. Crandall as animator)

Doug (vo): ...[Dave] Fleischer is given credit for directing it, (The camera zooms in on Crandall's name) this is really Roland Crandall's cartoon.

Doug: Apparently, he had been with Fleischer Studios for several years, and, uh, they said, "You know what? Just do your own cartoon, do whatever you want," and so he took inspiration...

(Minnie the Moocher is shown again)

Doug (vo): ...from what they did in Minnie the Moocher, and he combined it with...

Doug: ...his own...exercise in strange...

(Snow White is shown again, showing Koko the Clown, having been turned into a ghost, shapeshifting into a gold coin (worth $20) on a watchchain)

Doug (vo): ...bizarre, dark weirdness that you see here, and I think he really took it to the next level...

Doug: ...to a point where this is often called one of the best cartoons ever made, and you'll see why.

(The cartoon begins as Betty enters the castle of a homely queen. It is snowing outside, with icicles hanging from the entrance. They curl up into little circles to let Betty pass. Inside are two guards, played by Bimbo and Koko the Clown. Inside, Betty spots an alarm clock and pulls on one of its legs, causing it to ring)

Doug (vo): A fun bit you may or may not know is...

Doug: ...that Betty Boop wasn't always human. She was actually a dog originally.

(Footage is shown of Betty's debut appearance in the 1930 short Dizzy Dishes, in which she is shown as a slightly overweight dog)

Doug (vo): And that's because, uh, I believe she was in a Bimbo cartoon. Bimbo was also a dog. They said it didn't make sense...

Doug: ...if Bimbo had a human, uh, girlfriend, so they originally drew her this way, and then they showed the pictures...

(A comparison shot of Betty is shown side by side: dog Betty in Dizzy Dishes and human Betty in Snow White)

Doug (vo): ...side by side, and they looked at, you know, the attractive woman and the dog, and they said...

Doug: ..."The attractive woman makes more sense," so they went with that. And, uh, she just exploded. She became this huge, huge star, so...

Doug (vo): ...you're gonna see other characters in this, like, uh, Koko and, uh, like I said, Bimbo. It's very similar...

Doug: ...to, like, the Looney Tunes and Porky Pig. Porky used to be...

(A shot of Porky in his classic "That's all, folks" pose at the end of a Looney Tunes cartoon is shown)

Doug (vo): ...the big star, but then...

(Cut to a Looney Tunes opening with Porky and Daffy Duck is shown)

Doug (vo): ...Daffy came along...

(Now cut to another Looney Tunes opening, this one with Bugs Bunny)

Doug (vo): ...and, uh, Bugs came along...

Doug: ...and they kind of became the big deal, and that's what happened with Betty Boop, so those characters are still there, but they didn't...

(The title is shown again: "Betty Boop Assisted by Bimbo and Koko")

Doug (vo): ...usually star in their own cartoons at the time; it was mainly her.

Doug: And I think my favorite compromise is that they took her droopy ears...

(The dog and human versions of Betty are shown again)

Doug (vo): ...in the original and they turned them into earrings. I thought...

Doug: ...that was such a clever workaround.

(Cut back to Snow White as Betty enters the castle of the Evil Queen, her stepmother)

Betty: (singing to the tune of "Mary Had a Little Lamb") I wanna see my stepmama, stepmama...

Doug (vo): Now, so far, this is a mostly typical Betty Boop cartoon. Uh, back then, uh...

Doug: ...stories didn't need to be that concrete; they were more an excuse to do a lot of visual gags, uh, just to do everything in animation that you can't do in live-action.

Doug (vo): There's pros and cons to that. The cons are, you know, you want something that can be...

Doug: ...more dramatic. You want something that can be more realistic. Uh, when Disney did...

(Cut to a shot of...)

Doug (vo): ...The Three Little Pigs, it was celebrated for being something that had, like, distinct characteristics...

Doug: ...and it had a beginning, middle and end. It was one of those revolutionary cartoons, uh, that changed animation. But, uh, you do lose a little something here, too...

(As we cut back to Snow White, Betty meets her stepmother, the Queen, who is so displeased to see her that her face briefly turns into a frying pan, with eggs for her eyes)

Doug (vo): ...because you can just totally explore, uh, the imagination and motion and shapes. There's just

Doug: ...so much that can be explored when you have no limitations whatsoever.

Betty: (singing) I want to see my stepmama...

(A pair of icicles hanging from the entryway come to life, with faces and all)

Icicles: (singing) Her stepmama, the Queen.

Doug (vo): Case in point...

Doug: ...anything can talk in a Betty Boop cartoon. It doesn't matter what it is.

Doug (vo): In something like Three Little Pigs, that wouldn't make sense...

Doug: ...but here, you can do whatever you want.

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