Saturday, April 29, 2017

Animation April: [scene missing]

Well, this is embarrassing.

I'd planned to conclude the month with a large writeup on Young Justice, Greg Weisman's animated celebration of everything fun, bizarre, and dramatically convoluted in the DC comic book universe. It...didn't work out. The piece I'd almost finished wasn't much fun to write or interesting to read, and a second version I started from scratch earlier this week was practically erased when a Windows update caused my computer to restart while I was asleep. (Thanks again, Microsoft.) I tried rewriting version 2.0, but it wouldn't have been finished before May. I spent a few hours these last few nights retooling the old draft, but it still wasn't anything I could be happy with.

So I'm throwing in the towel. Please accept my apologies along with three truly excellent Betty Boop shorts from the early 1930s.

First: Snow-White (1933), which was named #19 in Jerry Beck's The 50 Greatest Cartoons: As Selected by 1,000 Animation Professionals (1994), gets an entry to itself in Brad Finger's Surrealism: 50 Works of Art You Should Know (2013), and was selected for preservation in the National Film Registry by the United States Library of Congress. Notice how just one animator is credited: Roland C. Crandall. No, he wasn't the lead animator: he was the only animator. Watching Snow-White and just thinking about what it must have been like to draw every frame in this thing by hand (in just six months!) brings an ache to my wrist.

Snow-White is an outlier among the early Betty Boop films. It's not its quality that makes it unusual: it's the fact that Ms. Boop doesn't get sexually harassed or assaulted by anyone for a whole seven minutes. (The 1930s were a different time, that's for sure.) The Old Man of the Mountain (1933) is a somewhat more typical outing, or it would be if it didn't give Cab Calloway (the jazz singer who performs Koko the Clown's song in Snow-White) top billing over Betty. This is the third and final Betty Boop short featuring Calloway, and I really wish there had been more.

Finally, we've got Red Hot Mamma (1934), in which Betty goes to hell and gets creeped on by demons, to whom she turns a shoulder of such incredible frigidity that the whole place freezes over. I love cartoons.

1 comment:

  1. More than 10,000 drawings in this seven minute short. All drawn in just SIX MONTHS. That is INSANE.