Friday, December 4, 2009

Betty Boop Film Class Part 8

Otzi08 Has been kind enough to upload one of the few Betty Boop cartoons not available on YouTube; the tragically dated Teacher's Pest. I'm jumping back in time for this one, since we're already up to Minnie the Moocher, but the uploading of it was a big enough event to warrant a new film class post.

It's alarming to see how old this cartoon feels. The comic timing, the staging, the animation, the voice, everything seems old. Strangely, it feels older than some of Bimbo's earlier cartoons, like Dizzy Dishes.

Much like most of Fleischer's earliest cartoons, it seems to be ripped straight from Vaudeville, with most of the action built around allowing song-and-dance numbers. The overall staging has not yet started to delve into the surreal, instead simply using a school day as an excuse for aforementioned song & dance. Still, though, he's using cartoons to produce moving images that are simply fun to look at, and that's the only reason they exist. Like Bimbo snoring; there's no reason to have ten seconds of the table walking around other than that it looks funny. This also allows him to come up with a funny animation sequence and then repeat it. The audience doesn't notice the repeated sequence of frames because they're so damned weird to begin with that the eye actually appreciates the extra time to contemplate what it's seeing.

Furthermore, while the staging is archaic, the animation is anything but. It's substantially more advanced than what was seen in Dizzy Dishes. The constructs are still a bit wobbly, but they're much firmer. None of the grotesque fluctuations seen in earlier cartoons, where the character looks vastly different from scene to scene. To see what I mean, bring up Dizzy Dishes and freeze any given frame. Then do the same for Teacher's Pest. Each frame stands alone much better, and this cartoon is less than a year younger.

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