Tuesday, April 5, 2016

What a dog!





Took me a while to find, or re-find this. I kept remembering a Betty Boop cartoon that somehow wasn't a Betty Boop cartoon. And this one isn't. A. Betty. Boop. Cartoon.

Surely it is not, because not only is she NOT called Betty Boop in this cartoon - she isn't even the same species.

Most afficionados of early animation know that BB started life as a dog. And if they don't, they're idiots and should go stand in the corner. It's not obvious that she evolved from a canine, of course, unless you've watched Max Fleischer cartoons from 1930 - 1931, in which a strange, flapper-esque character with long pendulous ears trots around on high heels talking in a squeaky, seductive voice.

A DOG.

Nobody knew what to call her when she made her debut in a cartoon called Dizzy Dishes. Though some people were heard to call, "HELP".




In this first incarnation, "Betty" (unnamed) dances on the table, flipping up her skirt and puffing out her face as if it's retractable, an animal snout or muzzle. She is both seductive and unbearable, her eyes like multi-legged insects. There's no sound here, but it's just as well.




This cartoon is typical of the nightmarish atmosphere of the Fleischerscape, one of those things where you just. . . can't. . . wake. . . up. The other character, which looks like a cross between a bug, a dog and Felix the Cat, becomes disturbingly aroused by this - thing.




I could never quite square those floppy ears with that huge, semi-human head teetering on an absurdly tiny human body. They seem stuck-on somehow, and eventually, like the back legs of a whale, they would recede into uselessness, turning into a pair of hoop earrings to maintain character consistency.  Doggiform, without being dogged. 

But the one I didn't remember, or almost remembered, or forgot to remember - I couldn't figure out why I couldn't find it, and certainly the title meant nothing to me. I only remembered somebody ringing a doorbell, Betty leaning out a second-story window, and a whole lot of furniture dancing around.





I found it almost by accident in a Betty Boop compilation, one of those two-hour YouTube jobbies, only this one was in chronological order. I knew it had to be EB (Early Betty) because I had a gif of her with floppy long ears.




Not only are her ears  monstrously large, she acts like a maniac, mugging and flopping her head around. The only thing that signals Betty is her substantial cleavage. Cleavage on a dog, though.





So flipping through the compilation, the two-hour compilation, the two-hour LONG compilation of Betty Boop cartoons, I realized the one I wanted would have to be near the beginning. But it didn't jibe somehow, because the one that SEEMED to be the right one was called Barnacle Bill. Oh hell. That was a Popeye cartoon, wasn't it? This couldn't be the same one. Or the same title. Or whatever.




It actually was, though, or is. This character, the bug or dog or whoever-he-is, Binky or Blinky or Blanky or Blonky, is actually Barnacle Bill the Sailor, and he and "Betty" go through the routine. Except! She isn't even called Betty in this:




Nancy Lee, one of Betty's many aliases (along with Fifi, Frou-Frou and Arf-Arf).




So this character - aha, his name is Bimbo, though that makes no sense to me - having been swallowed up by Nancy's wall, is subjected to her seductive overtures. When the sofa begins to speak and Bimbo becomes airborne, things get really strange.




So now the secret is revealed: Betty was hideously ugly at the start of her career. She continued to look pretty strange, but at this point there was nowhere to go but up.

Post-it Note: I found the lyrics of the version of Barnacle Bill I remember from the old Popeye cartoon, but when removing the formatting of the thing, THIS happened: so I thought I'd leave it the way it is.




As featured in the 1935 Popeye cartoon "Beware Of Barnacle Bill", with the voices of William Costello as Popeye, William Pennell as Bluto (playing Barnacle Bill), and Mae Questel as Olive Oyl: OLIVE: Popeye, dear, we cannot wed Popeye, dear, we cannot wed Popeye, dear, we cannot wed I love another sailor POPEYE: Who's the guy that won your heart OLIVE: It's Barnacle Bill the Sailor POPEYE: Who's the guy that thinks he's smart OLIVE: It's Barnacle Bill the Sailor POPEYE: Why, that false heart and flattering tongue He courts them all, both old and young He courts them all, but marries none Your Barnacle Bill the Sailor OLIVE: But he's strong and handsome, too But he's strong and handsome, too But he's strong and handsome, too My Barnacle Bill the Sailor POPEYE: I'll twist his toes and squeeze the nose Of Barnacle Bill the Sailor I'll mop the place with his false face The Barnacle Bill the Sailor I'll grab him by his dirty neck And when I'm through he'll be a wreck I'll sweep and smear and swab the deck With Barnacle Bill the Sailor OLIVE: Who's that knocking at my door Who's that knocking at my door Who's that knocking at my door Tell the fair young maiden BARNACLE BILL: It's only me from over the sea It's Barnacle Bill the Sailor I've come to take you away with me I'm Barnacle Bill the Sailor Hurry before you get me sore I'll rare and tear and rant and roar Hurry before I bust in the door It's Barnacle Bill the Sailor OLIVE: Here I come to let you in Here I come to let you in Here I come to let you in My Barnacle Bill the Sailor (Barnacle Bill and Popeye begin to fight) BILL: No one ever challenged me POPEYE: Says Barnacle Bill the Sailor BILL: I'm the terror of the sea POPEYE: Says Barnacle Bill the Sailor BILL: A fee and a fi and a fo and a fum Yo heave ho and a bottle of rum ?????? sailor, your day is done Oh, says Barnacle Bill the Sailor (Popeye eats his spinach and defeats Bill) OLIVE: Popeye, dear, I love you best Popeye, dear, I love you best Popeye, dear, I love you best When will we get married POPEYE: I've changed me mind so you can wed Your Barnacle Bill the Sailor You're nothing more than cabbage head Ev'ry dame's a selfish cat They only turn and leave ya flat Just the way ya did to that Poor Barnacle Bill the Sailor Goodbye!

No comments:

Post a Comment