dancing and singing houses
Thanks to a contemplative entry over on Pullquote, I developed a hankering for some old timey cartoons of the Fleischer variety. You know the ones where houses breathe and sing and dance, and dad’s head turns into a Victrola. Pop culture in the service of surrealism. Well, thanks to the public domain and the good folks over at Internet Archive, I was able to watch the three Betty Boop cartoons that features Cab Calloway and his orchestra.
- Minnie the Moocher (1932)
- Snow White (1933) to the song, St James Infirmary Blues
- The Old Man of the Mountain (1933)
What is immediately apparent is that the same live Calloway footage, shown at the beginning of Minnie the Moocher, is reused in each rotoscoped dance sequence in all three of these cartoons: first as a walrus (I thought Paul was), second as Koko the Clown transformed by the evil stepmother, and finally as the old man in the mountain. It is interesting to compare Roland “Doc” Crandall’s strange and scary animation with that of the Disney Studio’s rather tame Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs four years later. Betty Boop was just another casualty of the Production Code.