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by Garon Cockrell
Betty Boop Volume 1 DVD Review
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By Garon Cockrell
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March 9, 2013 12:01 a.m.

Betty Boop Volume 1 is a collection of twenty-two animated shorts
featuring one of the most endearing, adorable and funny cartoon characters of
all time, Betty Boop. Though she embodies the fun and attitude of the roaring
twenties, she wasn’t introduced until the 1930s, and these short films are
actually from the years 1933 to 1936.
One of the elements that
make Betty Boop so appealing is that great voice. And the short films in this
collection feature many songs, all of which are all basically wonderful. I
particularly love the song from Betty
Boop’s Ker Choo, a short that finds Betty Boop as a racecar driver. Another
song that really stands out is that from A
Language All My Own, a short from 1935. In this film, she sings her
“Boop-Oop-a-Doop” song, certainly a language all her own. Is there anything
cuter that Betty Boop saying “Boop-Oop-a-Doop”?
One of my favorite
cartoons in this collection is the 1933 short Is My Palm Read, in which Betty Boop goes to a fortune-teller. It’s
really creative and playful, and Betty Boop sings a song on a haunted island.
Another favorite of mine is Not Now,
from 1936, in which a cat keeps Betty awake. She and the cat sing a seriously
funny duet, in which she tells the cat to stop it, and he responds, “Not now, meow. Maybe later, but not now.”
Pudgy, Betty’s dog, then chases the cat.
There are a couple of
other shorts which feature mischievous cats. In Taking The Blame, Betty buys a cat to be a playmate for her dog,
but the cat terrorizes the poor guy (while of course acting the angel in front
of Betty). Betty blames her dog for all the mischief. Then in We Did It, the final short in this
collection, while Betty is gone, three kittens cause a lot of trouble. Once
again, cats are portrayed as malicious, wicked things – which I love. But this
time the cats admit their guilt in a little song.
All but one of these shorts are in black and white. The
sole exception is a 1934 cartoon titled Poor
Cinderella, in which Betty Boop plays the Cinderella character.
Interestingly, she has red hair in this film. This is also one of the longest
cartoons in the collection, at approximately ten and a half minutes.
One more cartoon I should note here is Betty Boop’s Rise To Fame, from 1934.
This one begins as live action, with Max Fleischer being interviewed and then
drawing Betty Boop. The drawing then interacts with him before getting onstage
and doing her various acts.
By the way, when you pop
the DVD in, before you reach the DVD menu, there is this warning: “The animated shorts you are about to see are
a product of their time. They may depict scenes with racial, ethnic and sexual
prejudices that were commonplace in films from this era.” But don’t worry, as
there isn’t much that most people will find offensive here. In fact, there was
only one short that stood out as possibly being offensive. In that one, titled Making Stars, two characters are
portrayed in a way that could be upsetting.
Bonus Material
This DVD includes two
bonus animated shorts. The first, In My
Merry Oldsmobile, is from 1932. A
peeping Tom breaks into a woman’s house and serenades the woman he was spying
on. She then sings, “You’re the type that
should be taken out and drowned.” Another man then comes in and wins her
heart by suggesting they go for a ride in his Oldsmobile. The short then,
interestingly, becomes live action, with lyrics appearing across the screen and
a bouncing ball so we can all follow along. The song continues, as the short
returns to animated form. It’s basically delightful.
The second short is
titled Finding His Voice, and is from
1929. In this short, a silent film attacks a talkie and asks where he got his
voice. The cartoon then explains how talkies are made. This one is somewhat
amusing, but is mostly of interest because of its historical context.
Betty Boop Volume 1 was released through
Legend Films. Also released was Betty Boop Volume 2, which features
another twenty-two episodes, these from the years 1936-1939.

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