Friday, December 07, 2007

Don't Take Betty's Boop

Here's another great Betty Boop cartoon from 1932.
Again, I don't know who the animator is, so if you do please tell us!
This was made before the Hays Office clamped down on Hollywood and cartoons were still allowed to be randy.
It was a cartoon staple in the early 30s to have a near-rape at the end of each cartoon. In most cartoons, the hero would show up and save the girl from the big bad man, but sometimes in the Betty Boops, it would actually happen and she would then like him after! Amazing times.

I really love the way this animator draws and moves Betty.
Look how cute her little feet are and how voluptuous her legs are.

The movement is very careful and completely un Disney. Disney in the 30s developed a style of motion that in effect hid the motion. They animated in a very rubbery style that squashed and stretched so much that the actions usually shot past the poses. It looks great, but it avoids showing you the action. You can't see how you are getting from one pose to the next without freeze framing it. This is what most feature animation does today. There is a place for it, but I think there is also a place for this kind of beautiful fluid action that you can appreciate without having to slow down the action.

Gorgeous drawings!
I love the arms and hands. Her hands are like horsehoe crabs. Don't you want your stubbly face to be softly stroked by primitive crustaceans?

In this next scene, all of a sudden her anatomy turns into Jack Kirby's style. Is it a different animator? Or is the same animator just experimenting as he goes? Trying things spontaneously as he thinks of them.
It's really cool that the anatomy keeps breaking down into rubber hose in between certain actions.

From rubbery to solid flesh.
She runs out in total rubber hose action. Was this on purpose, or is it the animator giving more work to the assistant to finish?

Either way, it's a great idea to animate back and forth between different approaches. It keeps things surprising and alive.

Someday I should do a post about the differences in taste of ass appreciation between Disney and the other studios.

I just love this style of animation. Weird, sexy, cartoony, silly, innocent and dirty all at the same time.

This is an art form all its own that can't be matched by any other.


/\/\ikeB said...

The BG artist deserves some praise too. The BG's have a huge sense of form and tone.
Even that little corner piece on the chest behind Betty has a lot going on.
The light is a lot harsher - which I prefer over some of the softer-lit stuff, like a lot of modern CG features.

Bitter Animator said...

I'm always interested in hearing about ass appreciation.

Weirdo said...

Great artwork. If only we could find out who animated those scenes. Constant experimentation while combining it with the classic principles is what keeps animation alive.

David DeGrand said...

These images alone made me laugh out loud, it's just so rare to see funny drawings anymore. I'll take these rubber hose cartoons over the best of Disney any day, just plain pure cartoon bliss. And please, I have to hear about ass appreciation!


Whenever I watch Betty Boop I always picture an old movie theatre, during the depression, filled with unemployed drunk guys... I'm sure who were the target audience.

I bet those drunk guys woulda howled while watching that sleezy leg rub... I did...and I'm not drunk!

Marc Deckter said...

Nice analysis - the surprise shifts between rubber hose and human anatomy are great.

Funny you mention Jack Kirby, I read in his bio that he was actually an inbetweener for the Fleischers for a very short time. But he quit because he felt like he was working in a factory.

Dan! said...

I love Betty's legs here. I do like how her limbs can transform from anatomical to rubber hose like that. Much nicer than being stuck completely with one or the other.

Rodrigo said...

"Weird, sexy, cartoony, silly, innocent and dirty all at the same time."

I suggest you check out "Boys Night Out" by Teddy Newton.

Cartoon Brew had a post on it.

Taco Wiz said...

How did yesterday's pitch go, John?

lastangelman said...

NICE ASS GRAB in the Betty Boop short!

And in Boys Night Out, nice ass slap!

LeoBro said...

>Disney in the 30s developed a style of motion that in effect hid the motion. They animated in a very rubbery style that squashed and stretched so much that the actions usually shot past the poses.

John, could you please elaborate on that? Especially "shooting past the poses." I've thought I understood everything you've written about various animation styles, but this one shot past me.

rodineisilveira said...

Johnny K.,

Probably, the animator from this Betty Boop short which you should be refering, just could it be the legendary Grim Natwick, right?


Anonymous said...

I love it!
Betty is a long time favorite.
Some great animation.
I enjoyed seeing stills on your blog.
Thanks for postn' them!


Larry Levine said...

Great Boop animation.

1600 Broadway regulary kicked Disney's Hyperion Studio's butt until 'Uncle' Max moved to Miami &
watered down the studio's darker
offbeat New Yawk humor--animation & sunshine don't mix!

JohnH said...

Great post I thought. I got a chuckle out of the horseshoe crab schematic at the end, too....

stevef said...

I can't find any hard evidence other than the fact he was just starting out at that time, but we could be seeing in that animation the fledgling efforts of Seamus Culhane.

A.M.Bush said...

Why! this is an outrage towards women. I for one am offended!

J Lee said...

Natwick was gone by this time, and I don't think Culhane ever clamed credit for his unit having done this cartoon, so that would leave either Bowsky or Kneitel's units.

jxnx said...

These drawings are so entertaining! I think the Betty posts are my favorite thing since the Milt Gross posts. Your commentary and explanations are a boon to mankind.

Camari Xela said...

My grammy loves Betty Boop. i think that was her way of expressing her lesbianism in a time where that wasn't tolerated. Yeah fo' the Flieschers!

Kali Fontecchio said...


But also...kind of scary.

Betty is my mother's favorite cartoon character.

Mr. Semaj said...

The hands are the only thing that I disagree with. Some of the drawings show the hands drawn where the ball becomes invisible between the pointed fingers.

They did this frequently on The Powerpuff Girls.

I don't know. It's weird when hands are drawn like starfish (or the sea creature of your choice). :-/

David Germain said...

this is an outrage towards women. I for one am offended!

Uh Oh! Another one of those monkeys has crawled out of the woodwork. :P

Cristin McKee said...

I'm kind of disturbed by this. And all the comments slavering over the leg and ass grabs.

Chris Rank said...

Since no one has asked, I will.
What's up with the picture of the horseshoe crab?

great post. never thought about how racy those cartoons were in the 30's and I wonder if Popeye had some of those same elements the Boops did.

Chupa said...

Well ya know, Cristin, it was opinions like yours, however innocently meant and sincerely-presented, that brought about full-fledged censorship in Hollywood. So I guess it's true that those who are unaware of history are condemned to repeat it.

I think all public schools the world over should be forced to teach a class in "The History of Well-Intended Opinions That Led to Bad Results." First of course, would be Prohibition. Second would be voting for Ralph Nader, and so on down the list.

Bitter Animator said...

Chris, the crab pic will become clear when you go through the text.

They're weird-looking things, those horseshoe crabs. Like aliens or something. Has there ever been a cartoon horseshoe crab character?

Kris said...

I LOVE this. I don't know why I always considered these cartoons "primitive" when I was a kid--they're a lot more interesting and funny than anything I watched then.

Clinton said...

I wonder what Betty meant when she sang, "Don't take my boop-doop-a-doop away"? The whole rape subject brings me back to Popeye, where he was constantly saving Olive from Bluto's sexual madness. Saving the damsel from sexual abuse was real big back in the 30s wasn't it? Not just in cartoons, but live-action as well. To me, it looks like the films, made back then, made women look real tempting, and helpless. When did all that change? the 60s? or earlier?

Brian P. Stone said...

I actually laughed out loud at the scene with the hand reaching out of the tent and grabbing her ass!

Pete Emslie said...

John drooled: "Her hands are like horseshoe crabs. Don't you want your stubbly face to be softly stroked by primitive crustaceans?"

Aha, so now we have the truth. You've always craved Betty Boop for shellfish reasons!

Anonymous said...

Once again, total non-sequitur question: I'm taking a look at your November 2007 posts with George Liquor and the carictures of your dad. How do you do the inking?

Jose said...

loving all betty boop stuff that's been up here.

interesting point about "ass appreciation" between other studios and disney. these examples seem to have the right idea. though when you say Disney and ass, all that seems to come to mind is goddamn Pluto. is it me, or did Mickey seem to slap Pluto's ass a LOT? I'd put up examples if i could get some screenshots.


also wanted to mention i finally finally finally got my own copy of the original ren & stimpy on dvd. and it's such a damn treat getting my sister to watch them. she's about, what, 10 years old, i think. there's no hope for her in today's cartoons! great seeing her enjoy R & S so much.

carlo guillot said...

Hi John.
It has nothing to do with your post, but maybe you wanna know that today is the b-day of one of your heroes, Kirk Douglas.

Anonymous said...

Perhaps Hollywood decided that sexual things should be taken out of cartoons meant for kids because if we had episodes like Betty Boop based around rape and having all of the terms in code, like "Boop oop a doop", it would go right over the kids heads and make the show so unentertaining to watch.

Even understanding all the terms still made it uninteresting.

The animation is still pretty good though. Her arm seemed to go all over the place, like someone surgerically removed all the bones from it. It kinda bugged me.

Cristin McKee said...

I wasn't knocking the raunchy stuff, Chupa, just the fact that it's glorifying rape. Artistry aside, you gotta admit this cartoon is a little f***ed up.

Just because I brought up a topic for conversation, doesn't mean I'm heading us all towards a path of crazy censorship implementation. Sheesh.

We're not allowed to criticize old cartoons for having rape in them because that's censorship? 0_o

NineInchNachos said...

did you know horseshoe crabs can only eat when they're walking? Did you know they have copper based blood like spock? I know cuz I have horseshoes for hands too.

Laura said...

hm. This kind of turned me on.