June 3, 2021 posted by Steve Stanchfield

A Thunderbean Scan of “Betty Boop and the Little King” (1935)

As I sit here, chomping some pizza from Jenny’s Pizza Perfect, I’m reminded of just how much can happen in a day or a week. These ones have been pretty filled. It’s short today as I prepare to do a big scanning trip. These scanning trips are starting to have some similarity to medical tourism, except they don’t involve any surgery besides an occasional splice fix.

In Thunderbeanland:

There’s lots of stuff brewing, but I have to pay attention to the stuff already bubbling in the pot first! I’ve learned to not share everything all the time as much, or someone will trademark a public domain character to try and keep you from producing a set! The juggle is something I’m kind of good at as long as there is only one thing in my hand at any given time. Otherwise I am easily baffled. By the way, my favorite title for a Felix the Cat cartoon is ‘Felix Baffled By Banjos’. That’s also the best alliteration of any cartoon title I can think of.

Thunderbean’s defined, overarching goal right now is to diligently finish many, in not all, projects we’ve already announced by the end of this year. If we don’t make that goal, we’ll be really close. I’m excited to see the final Flip materials showing up here right now, the next title to be finished. All the final pieces coming into place for this marathon project. We’re having our little team putting some eyes on each film, looking for other little things to fix.

We’ll be posting some of the progress on the Comi-Colors set next week. As Flip the Frog and Aesop’s Fables Volume 1 get finished, more time is going into getting the Comi-Colors scanned – most from the black and white separation negs. Now that things are opening up a little more, getting this material scanned is getting easier, happily.

I’m hoping to be on the road Thursday as you read this for scanning trip #2. I have more cartoons ready to be scanned than I’ve ever tried to do at one time, and I fully expect to be scanning materials for two full days around the clock. When I finish writing this, I’ll be working on assembling the final reels and rewinding everything, and hope to get enough sleep to get on the road early. So many lovely prints of things have shown up recently, both lent and won on Ebay. These scans will help push many projects forward-and take tons of things of the ‘in progress’ list.

The Rainbow Parade set is back on its way to replication, and will be sent at the same time as many of the special sets. With so many thing getting finished, things continue to grow in scale, with less announced now but being worked on behind the scenes.

One of the things I’ve been working on is finding the best prints I can of Betty Boop cartoons for “The other Betty Boops” Blu-ray set. While it would be wonderful to get 35mm on all the films, there are very few 35mm prints on the public domain Bettys. We’re trying to help round out the films available so there are decent copies in HD of these shorts. We’ve been tracking down as many original non-theatrical and TV prints as able- and need to get to 20 of them to finish the set. Most we’ve found are 16mm prints, but we’ve also found quite a few 9.5mm prints from Europe that have all the original Paramount titles. The picture quality varies on these 1930s prints, but some of them are quite good.

Betty Boop and the Little King (1936) isn’t one of the best of the series by a long shot, but I’ve always liked things about this cartoon. I’m really glad there wasn’t a second series of King shorts since the Van Beuren Little Kings are fun in ways that this cartoon isn’t–but it’s still oddly charming.

Our story starts with our hero being forced to watch vaudeville-style opera, as a woman who is mostly a giant bosom sings, boring the King to a point where he sneaks out. This leads to a sequence with a lovely setback model of a town as the King strolls along. It’s one of my favorites in any of the 30s Fleischer cartoons, and even when repeated multiple times in the cartoon, it gives the whole film an toy-like feel.

Of course, the King manages to find a true Vaudeville-style show just down the road, starring Betty and her horse. On his way to eventually joining her on stage, he sells pretzels. Once his escape is discovered, he’s forced to go back home via a limo, holding hands with Betty who’s sitting on the running boards. What happened to her horse?

While not much of a plot, it’s a pleasant enough little film. The Little King’s strange voice was a favorite of mine growing up since it was just so bizarre. He worked so much better as a nearly silent character in the Van Beuren shorts. I have to wonder what the internal thought was on what kind of voice he should have.

Perhaps a bigger reason while I like this short so much is that my mother, who enjoyed watching the super 8 print of this cartoon, used to imitate the Little King, saying “Shay boy! Sell me some Pwetzels!”. How often can you get your mother to repeat lines from a 1930s cartoon?

Since a lot of the mid-30s Boops are in the public domain, they were duped more than most of the series, making it harder to find copies that are not generations down. I got lucky to find good prints on many so far. This nice original NTA TV print is courtesy of Mark Kausler.

Have a good week everyone. More stuff next week!


  • Felix’s former owner used to make banjos, I wonder if he got baffled by his decisions.

  • So Jenny’s Pizza Perfect was voted the “best pizza in Southeast Michigan”? Is Buddy’s still around in Detroit? Or Shield’s?

    I agree that the 3D setback in “Betty Boop and the Little King” is one of the cartoon’s most attractive features. I’m not surprised that the Fleischers provided the Little King with a voice; after all, a year earlier they had done so for Henry, the so-called Funniest Living American, although that glabrous freak had never uttered a word in his comic strip. Funniest living American, my foot. And Voltaire thought the Holy Roman Empire was a misnomer.

    As for alliterative titles, both “Betty Boop’s Bizzy Bee” and “Betty Boop’s Big Boss” contain four Bs to Felix’s three. Now, if it were “Boris Badenov Baffled by Banjos”, you’d really have something.

    • “By the way, my favorite title for a Felix the Cat cartoon is ‘Felix Baffled By Banjos.’”

      The title that always sticks in my mind is “Felix Woos Whoopee.” No matter how many ways I analyze and parse it — it still doesn’t really make sense! I’m not even sure how to pronounce it — do you put the emphasis on “woos,” or on “whoopee”?

  • One of the better post-Code Boops. One of the most extensive uses of ‘3-D’ setbacks.

  • Is that Pinto Colvig selling the pretzels?

  • Hey, who is animator Hicks Lokey? I don’t think I’ve head of HIM before?

    • Well WE have!

      You must not read the credits much, Len. Lokey was a veteran animator from the 1920s at Terry’s Aesop’s Fables studio and later joined Fleischer in 1934 – mainly working on the Betty Boop and Color Classics. He’s worked at Lantz and Disney (credited on Fantasia and Dumbo), and from 1958 through the 1980s at Hanna Barbera (he passed in 1990)

      • Well, Jerry – Certainly not as much as YOU do! That name just popped out at me, and I thought, “Who is that?” Well, now I know, thanks!

        Now, ask a normal person who Myron Waldman or Dave Tendlar was? Do you think they would know? I can’t remember everything I see. It just was an unusual name for me. Don’t tell Jim Korkis or Steve Stanchfield, okay? I feel so embarrassed!

        As long as I got you on the internet “wire” – so to speak – any news on upcoming POPEYE DVD or Blu-Ray releases from Warner Archives?

        • I can’t answer such questions in public, Len – and this is a public forum. The quick answer is that there are no plans by Warner Bros. Discovery as of today (June 4th 2021) to release any further Popeye on DVD or blu ray. We can only hope that will change.

          • To be fair, Hicks’ obscurity might be due to the fact that is name is literally “Low-Key.”

    • He was one of the few animators to join in the Fleischer strike. He later worked for Disney. You may be familiar with his work animating on the “Pink Elephants on Parade” sequence in Dumb and the “Dance of the Hours” sequence in Fantasy.

  • Thanks, Jerry – Sorry, I should have contacted you privately on possible upcoming POPEYE releases. Gotta get my column out for the OFFICIAL POPEYE FANCLUB and I thought you might have heard something! But … thanks for your comment.

    Mr. Langer, thanks for more info, on Hicks Lokey. The name just sort of popped out of nowhere for me. “Pink Elephants on Parade” in DUMBO is one of the most wonderful sequences in DUMBO – but the whole film is terrific! Thanks for the info.

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