Uploaded on Feb 7, 2009
Cab Calloway appears with Betty Boop in the Talkartoon Minnie the Moocher, Betty's 17th cartoon appearance. This is justifiably one of the most famous cartoons ever made.
The cartoon begins with actual film footage of Cab Calloway dancing a slow and sensuous dance in front of his orchestra, the former Missourians, while they perform the Prohibition Blues. This is the oldest known film footage of Cab. His attire is uncharacteristically casual, and we never get a good look at his face. We suspect that Cab wasn't aware that the Fleischers were going to use the actual footage.
The haunting and beautiful instrumental, Prohibition Blues, is an old Missourians piece that was recorded by them in early 1930, right before Cab took over as leader of their band. This cartoon has the only recording of the piece with Cab Calloway. By early 1932, when this cartoon was produced, the group had been renamed "Cab Calloway and His Orchestra," but in this film, they are still wearing their old Missourians uniforms.
The story commences in Betty Boop's home, where we find her weeping bitterly at the kitchen table while her father berates her for not eating. Her mother stands by, glowering at both of them with her arms folded across her chest. Betty is perhaps plumper than usual in this cartoon, and her eyes are somewhat smaller. Her parents are German Jews; the father's name is Otto, but the mother's name is never mentioned. This would have been a familiar sort of family for a great many viewers of the early 1930s due to the massive influx of poor European immigrants into New York City at the turn of the century. The Fleischer brothers themselves were the children of Austrian Jewish immigrants. To our knowledge, this is the only cartoon in which we see Betty Boop's parents.
Betty runs off, she rolls her toothbrush up in a towel and writes a farewell note to her parents, in the process pulling Koko the Clown out of the inkwell for a brief cameo. She jumps out of her window, holding on to the blind.
The instant her feet hit the ground, the whole atmosphere of the cartoon changes. Cab's orchestra cuts in with the menacing and ominous sounds of Minnie the Moocher. Even Betty's appearance changes; apparently the second animator took over at this point. Betty in this part of the cartoon is more streamlined and looks more like her usual self. Betty and Bimbo leave the residential area behind and soon are running through a haunted forest with bubbly-looking trees and weird shapes bouncing around.
We run into Cab again in a cave (All of Cab Calloway's cartoons take place in caves), where Betty is greeted by him disguised as the rotoscoped ghost of a walrus, singing his signature tune, "Minnie the Moocher." The outlandish imagery and the eerie song fascinate.
The last wail is sung by a witch ghost whose mouth opens up so wide that you can see the face on her uvala. At this point, Betty and Bimbo flee the cave, chased by a pack of ghosts, witches, devils, moons and the walrus to the tune of the Vine Street Drag. This instrumental piece is another relict of the pre-Cab Missourians, and this is the only recording of it with Cab Calloway. We can hear him shouting in the background.
SOURCE : http://www.heptune.com/minnbett.html
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