By the beginning of the calendar year 1935, the Betty Boop cartoons had become consistent with the newly-enforced Production Code. Betty’s flapper personality had become quite passe, and those cartoons in which she was a performer were the closesr things left to harkening back to the pre-code Betty. Exposed garters were out. Long dresses, which wouldn’t have looked bad on Olive Oyl, were the order of the day. And “hotcha” numbers gave way to sometimes preachy songs about tolerance and other life lessons. We’ll run across some of these in future posts.
Keep In Style (11/16/34) – Betty is emceeing “The Betty Boop Exposition”, with a sign depicting one of the last of Fleischer’s “non-sequitur” gags in the series, as the event is billed for “One Week Only – May 31 to July 31″. Betty shows off futuristic automobiles (anticipating such titles for a later decade as Avery’s Car of Tomorrow). She then exhibits her latest fashion style trend – a sort of veiled doily affixed to each ankle. Suddenly, every man, woman, child, horse, or other species has to have a set, and Betty is a trend-setter in the public eye. Songs include an original title song for Betty, and “With My Eyes Wide Open, I’m Dreaming” (from the Paramount feature Shoot the Works), recorded by Leo Reisman for Brunswick, Isham Jones on Victor, and a vocal version by Ruth Etting on Brunswick (below). Jack Payne recorded it across the pond on Rex, as well as Lew Stone on English Decca with vocal by Al Bowlly. In later years, versions would appear by the Ink Spots on Decca, a hit multitracked version by Patti Page on Mercury, Pay Boone on Dot, and Dean Martin on Capitol. Also in the score is “Home Sweet Home”.
When My Ship Comes In (12/4/34) – Betty has the winning ticket in a sweepstakes. Betty dreams of what she’ll do with the winnings, which is to throw it around like a sailor. She receives a ticker tape parade in her honor. Features an original title song (not the ballad of the same title from Eddie Cantor’s Kid Millions), which may actually be properly titled, “My Ship Came In”. People were still dreaming of sudden wealth in the wake of the depression Fleischer also surprisingly sprung for music rights from other studio’s publishers, including in the score “The Golddigger’s Song (We’re in the Money)”, and MGM’s “Happy Days are Here Again”, both of which have been covered in posts on Warner cartoons on this site. “Stars and Stripes Forever” also appears.
Baby Be Good (1/14/35) – Betty is baby-sitting, and baby is not living up to the title of the cartoon, but displaying his own special brand of mischief. Betty appears in a dream sequence as a good fairy, wearing a star spangled and quite long garment. Seemingly half the cartoon is run backwards to undo what the kid has already done (with none of the comic feeling/timing of Tex Avery’s later The Village Smithy). An original song is sung by Boop, probably tited “Once There Was a Little Boy (Just Like You)”. Also included is “Love Is Just Around the Corner” another Crosby original from “Here is My Heart”. Recorded by Bing for Decca in a lively arrangement (below). A Wingy Manone group, billed as the “Harlem Hot Shots”, released a version on Melotone, Perfect et al. Barney Kessel performed it with a jazz group on Contemporary. Frank Sinatra would include it as an album cut on Reprise’s “Sinatra and Swingin’ Brass”. Mel Torme performed it live on an album, “Mel Torme at the Red Hill”. Billy Eckstine included it on the Mercury album “Imagination”, Also in the score are :London Bridge” and a few other nursery rhymes.
Taking the Blame (2/15/35) – Betty decides to buy Pudgy a playmate – a big black cat. They get along about as you’d expect. The cat manages to avoid responsibility for any messes he’s made, laying the blame on Pudgy. Eventually, Betty finds out the truth, and the cat winds up in Pudgy’s doghouse, with bars over the door, and a sign posted on the structure by Betty reading “For Sale”. Songs include: “Love Thy Neighbor”, “Tiger Rag”, and “Take a Number From One To Ten”, a song vigorously introduced by Polish-accented comedienne Lyda Roberti, leading an all-girl cheering card section at the big football game in the feature College Rhythm. Lyda would get to actually record the number commercially in a rare session for Columbia royal blue wax, with two takes extant. (both the record and the sequence from College Rhythm are embed below) Lyda would later have a short stint at Hal Roach, attempting to fill in as partner for Patsy Kelly after the loss of Thelma Todd. Lyda herself would die young, only a few years later in 1938. The song was also recorded by her film co-star Jack Oakie on Melotone, Perfect, et al. Jimmie Grier, who backed Lyda on the Columbia version, would record a band version on Brunswick. Tom Coakley also covered the piece on Victor, and Johnny “Scat” Davis got it for Decca.
Stop That Noise (3/15/35) – Betty is complaining about the city’s noise, where there are construction workers on a high-rise site across the street, and an elevated train roaring by at intervals, (possibly she is living on 3rd Avenue), etc. She takes an excursion out to the country to get away from it all, but finds the noises of the woodland to be just as upsetting, plus the stings of insects more aggravating, and returns to the din of her apartment, so contented she falls asleep almost before her head hits the pillow. Songs: an original number, “Noise, Noise, Noise” (composer credit not given); “Listen to the Mocking Bird”; “The Old Oaken Bucket”; and “Home Sweet Home”.
Swat the Fly (4/15/35) – Though there is no connection between the films except for their producer, the Fleischers would have occasion to reference the title of this picture again in later years, as the character nae for one of C. Bagley Beetle’s henchmen in “Mr. Bug Goes To Town”, voiced by Jack Mercer. Betty is trying to make some cookie dough for baking, but being annoyed by a pesky fly. A real case of cartoon “mudslinging” ensues, leaving cookie dough splattered all over the place as ammunition to catch the insect. Pudgy takes his share of Betty’s misfires, and even when the fly is vanquished, Pudgy remains well caught up in his work. Songs: “Shoo, Fly, Don’t Bother Me”, “Man on the Flying Trapeze”, and “Lookie, Lookie Lookie, Here Comes Cookie”, recently featured as a vehicle for Gracie Allen and George Burns in the feature Here Comes Cookie. The song, however, had an earlier derivation, from the feature Love in Bloom, and was recorded by Ted Fio Rito on Brunswick (below), Jan Garber for Victor, and Teddy Hill for Melotone, Perfect, et al., Glen Gray had a dance version on Decca, while Cleo Brown had a vocal version on the same label. Henry Busse recorded a version for a radio transcription. Harry Roy had an English version on Parlophone. Mitch Miller would feature George Burns on one of his sing-along shows reviving the piece in the 1960’s. It was included in a deliberately camp version on the “Supercamp” album on Tower.
No! No! A Thousad Times No!! (5/24/35) – Another mellerdrammer spoof, which opens with Betty and Fearless Fred kissing on stage. Phillip the Fiend (self-identified) comes along in his hot-air balloon., and offers Betty diamonds (with small electric lights in them), pearls (still in their oysters) and furs (guaranteed moth proof – yeah, right!). Phillip abducts Betty and takes her up in the balloon, leaving Fred tied to a tree surrounded by dead leaves that Phillip sets on fire. Fred makes a daring escape, and uses the springiness of the tree to launch himself up to the balloon, where he gets into a fight with Phillip. In the end, the fiend is foiled, while the stagehands have a time performing the special effects for the sequence. Songs: “Love in Bloom” (barely heard under the kissing), the “Zampa Overture” over the titles, “Yankee Doodle”, and the title song, a 1934 novelty. The song was recorded by George Hall on Bluebird, and Harry McDaniel (actually Johnnie Johnson) on Melotone, Perfect, et al. The number had some popularity in England as well. Ambrose recorded it on Decca with Sam Browne and Elsie Carlisle on vocals, and Phyllis Robins had a vocal on Rex – all of whom hammed it up quite nicely. The song itself spoofed its genre, and included damsel tied to the railroad tracks, and a last-minute rescue by the hero.
A Little Soap and Water (6/21/35) – Betty is trying to give Pudgy a bath. To say that Pudgy is reluctant is an understatement. He is more interested in a bone resting above a bucket full of coals. ‘Nuff said. The score includes a snatch of the Light Cavalry Overture, and the Second Hungarian Rhapsody, and an original song to match the film’s title, composers unknown.
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