#90) Snow-White (1933)
OR “Brothers Grimm Via Brothers Fleischer”
Directed by Dave Fleischer
Class of 1994
The Plot: Very, very loosely based on the fairy tale, Betty Boop (voice of Mae Questel) is Snow White, the “fairest in the land” much to the chagrin of her evil stepmother the Queen (possibly also voiced by Questel). Snow White is sentenced to death, but is rescued by Koko the Klown & Bimbo the Dog (voices of Cab Calloway & Billy Murray, respectively) as well as seven indistinguishable dwarfs.
Why It Matters: Despite being the only “Betty Boop” cartoon on the Registry, the NFR listing includes no specific reasons why this short was chosen.
But Does It Really?: Hey kids, wanna see the weirdest cartoon ever? I guess I’ve never really seen a lot of Betty Boop cartoons, because this one took me by surprise. Apparently adult-oriented surreal animation and Cab Calloway music were staples of the series? Regardless, a Betty Boop cartoon should be included on the Registry, and I guess this one will do. But be warned, there are no amount of recreational drugs that can prepare you for this animation.
Everybody Gets One: The real star of this film is animator Roland Crandall. The story goes that the Fleischer Brothers gave Crandall carte blanche on this short’s animation as thanks for all his hard work on previous shorts. He did not disappoint.
Wow, That’s Dated: Fleischer Studios’ hallmark of rotoscoping performers (in this case Cab Calloway) for Koko’s dance movements.
Seriously, Oscars?: Despite being eligible in the relatively new “Best Short Subjects, Cartoon” category, “Snow-White” was snubbed in favor of more sophisticated, less racy fare like “The Three Little Pigs”. No Betty Boop cartoon ever received an Oscar nomination.
- But seriously, are we sure Salvador Dalí didn’t have a hand in animating this?
- The Queen in this version is not too far removed from Mae Questel’s other great Fleischer character: Olive Oyl.
- Both Koko and Bimbo were stars of their own cartoon series in the ‘20s. Their waning popularity mixed with Betty’s rising star led to them becoming supporting characters in her series.
- The film diverges from the fairy tale in a lot of places, but I’ll take a Cab Calloway number over “Love’s First Kiss” any day of the week.
- This short was released just before the Hays Code went into effect, ending the risqué version of Betty as we know it. Attempts to keep Betty going in a more conservative fashion ended poorly.
- Work’s been kind of slow for Betty since cartoons went to color. But she’s still got it, Eddie!
- Four years later, Walt Disney would try his hand at telling the Snow White fairy tale in animation. Folly, I tell you!