Andrea/Duck Dodgers here. I friendly welcome every fan of animation at my blog. The goal is to support the love and rediscovery of Classic Theatrical Cartoons from the Golden Age of Animation, keeping meanwhile an eye on Golden Age "Funny Animals" Comics as well as on modern animated productions! Every SUPPRESSED ethnic caricature to be sometimes presented here is just for HISTORICAL and EDUCATIONAL purpose and NOT to offend anyone. Stay Tooned and Enjoy the place !

Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Betty Boop, M.D.

Though it never received the same notoriety and recognition as "Snow White" or "Bimbo's Initiation", "Betty Boop, M.D." deserves the place among the best Betty Boop cartoons. This cartoon released on 2nd September 1932 and animated by Willard Bowsky's unit, is certainly one of the weirdest and most surreal entries in Betty Boop's entire filmography. Some people find it rather unsettling and disturbing, especially because of the ending. It's a cult favorite, and definitely not the kiddie stuff :)

Betty, KoKo and Bimbo are having a travelling medicine show, selling Jippo - a miracle cure for every known ailment.

Some of the miraculous benefits of Jippo:

Who wants to buy Jippo?

"If you're feeling wealthy, and want to be healthy,
Now's the time to buy Jippo..."

Now the things are starting to get *really* weird...

Bimbo's song "Nobody's Sweetheart" (with lyrics about a prostitute) is followed by some delightfully deranged "effin" scat singing. This final part of cartoon is a truly amazing marriage of music, animation and crazy gags in the best Fleischers tradition.
There's some debate about a recording artist who performed the singing and vocal effects. For many years, the voice used to be credited to Cliff Edwards aka "Ukulele Ike", known to animation fans also as the voice of Jiminy Cricket in Disney's Pinocchio. This was never fully confirmed, and it's now believed that a Cliff Edwards impersonator is responsible for singing. Some sources claim it's William Costello, who will a year later become the first voice of Popeye. That's a very good possibility especially since a proto-Popeye voice is briefly heard during this section.

And now... the infamous ending.

By the way, this is not a racist caricature as some people claim. Baby's transformation is a direct reference to "Dr.Jekyll and Mr.Hyde", a movie adaptation of Robert Louis Stevenson's novel with Fredric March in the title role(s). This excellent film released in early 1932 became a huge hit for Paramount, the same studio that distributed Fleischer's cartoons.

Now you can watch the whole cartoon, though the YouTube video quality doesn't really give it a justice:


Do you want to see a complete Betty Boop collection released on DVD? "Lions Gate Home Entertainment" is a company that currently holds the video rights for Betty Boop cartoons. Unfortunately, they don't have plans to release Betty or any other Fleischer cartoons in their possession (Talkartoons, Screen Songs, Color Classics). However, there might be a possibility for another company to licence this material from Lion's Gate.
"Shout! Factory" is a very good independent company that made great job with their music, TV and cartoon collections. The company is taking requests and suggestions for the possible future releases, and one thing that you can do is to join their forum, and give a vote for the classic cartoon collections. There are already several threads dedicated to Betty Boop and Terrytoons. This worthy initiative was started at GAC forums two weeks ago.


And finally, here's my own tribute to Betty Boop and Fleischer cartoons. It's a drawing I made for The Autumn Society of Philadelphia's upcoming Golden age of Comics and Animation art show. Click the picture to see it in full size on my blog HammersonLand:

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Blogger Bob Flynn said...

This is easily one of my favorite Fleischer cartoons. Thanks for posting the stills. I don't get what the hold-up is on a Betty Boop release...she has a pop culture following (maybe more as an icon, less for the weirdo surrealist cartoons she appeared in).

Great tribute, btw!

12:25 pm

Blogger Caleb said...

Great post, I gotta get me some of that Jippo!

8:29 pm

Anonymous Hilarious said...

Amazing post, and the ZIPPO medicine is fantastic

7:29 am

Blogger Duck Dodgers said...

Your drawing, Hammerson, is simply great!

9:34 am

Blogger Jack G. said...

Your drawing really captures the Fleischer sense of fun.

The print of this cartoon looks really good. What is it from?

11:08 pm

Blogger Jaimie's Dad said...

I always loved this bit at the end of Betty Boop M.D. and so I squeezed an homage to it into the title sequence of Disney's Teacher's Pet...Let the law suits commence.

11:33 am

Blogger Unknown said...

"whats the matter daddy?" ♥ mmm betty boop doesn't mess around.

6:11 pm

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Lionsgate does not own the rights to the BB cartoons. They are in fact Public Domain.....

9:25 pm

Blogger mk smith said...

LOVE your tribute!!!

1:57 am

Blogger PJW said...

Love the ending...

7:16 pm

Blogger weird vacations said...

Nice post...I really enjoyed, Keep it up!
unusual vacations

8:22 pm

Blogger Unknown said...

I have a 90's TV recording with this cartoon in color. E-mail-me if you want to have it.

3:39 pm


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