Saturday, July 25, 2009

Betty Boop Film Class.

Dizzy Dishes- 1930: Make sure to click the HQ button for the best audio.

This is Betty Boop's very first appearance in the Talkartoon series of cartoons produced as the first audio cartoons by Fleischer Studios. Fleischer had been working in cartoons for some time, but his real masterworks were yet to come, with Betty Boop, Popeye, and the stunningly animated Superman shorts.

This was Fleischer's second cartoon with voice, and all his timing and skills were associated with communicating jokes and ideas with pantomime and exaggerated animations. More so than any future cartoons, that's apparent in this one. The dialogue is completely unnecessary. You can almost imagine various instruments, like trumpets or trombones, being used for the voices of the characters. When the hulking thug orders the roast duck, we even see Bimbo the waiter/chef draw out a duck. The words weren't needed. The nascent nature of Fleischer's work with voice is also pretty glaring in the comically bad lip-syncing. Characters speak slowly, with drawn out syllables and simple sentence structure. If you watch Minnie the Moocher, the advancements made in less than two years in the lip-syncing is very impressive.

On a side note, if I was the thug, I'd be pissed as well. Six bucks was probably specified to show how expensive and fancy the club was. In today's money, six dollars is equal to almost eighty. Remember, the average annual income was only $1,970.00. That duck was an entire day's wages.

Watch all the lips closely. Notice how they stretch and balloon out of shape. It's one of the very first talking cartoons and they already have most of the basic lip motions in place. All they really needed to do was speed up the transitions to achieve normal talking speed and thus a real sense of fluidity.

I talked about how crude the animation appeared in Minnie the Moocher, but that's even more exaggerated in this short. It's also more of a true cartoon insofar as cartoonish warping of perspective, size, and shape is more pronounced. Betty spends her entire time on screen changing shape. You can also see Betty in her original anthropomorphic dog-thing style, before she became a spoof of a teenage flapper. You'll also notice how Bimbo is a lot taller in this than he is in future cartoons.

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