|"What a shame, poor Betty!"|
And here we present "Max Fleischer Presents Betty Boop in Snow-White," directed by Dave Fleischer (Max's brother). As the credits indicate, Betty Boop is "assisted by Bimbo and Koko."
This is quite a different take on "Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs" than the one undertaken by Walt Disney a few years later, that's for sure! However, its quality is considered second to none, as evidenced by its selection for preservation by the U.S. Library of Congress in the National Film Registry in 1989.
We get Cab Calloway rotoscoped (traced in from film), but no live appearance unfortunately. Cab and his Orchestra are in fine form, as always, as he sings the classic "Saint James Infirmary Blues." And, let's not leave out one Roland C. Crandall, who animated the whole thing by himself.
This is not quite as salacious as Betty Boop and Cab Calloway in "The Old Man of the Mountain" of the same year or as iconic as "Minnie the Moocher" from the year before, but it's a fun ride with weirdly adult themes combined with kid-friendly animation. And this is a version of Snow White you would never see from the Disney studio! But it may have given the Walt the impetus to maybe do a "clean" take on the classic fairytale.
From the youtube page:
This 1933 cartoon featuring Cab Calloway is remarkable for having been animated by a single individual, Roland C. Crandall, and is considered one of the best cartoons ever made. Crandall received the opportunity to make Snow White on his own as a reward for his several years of devotion to the Fleischer studio, and the resulting film is considered both his masterwork and an important milestone of The Golden Age of American animation.
(See The 50 Greatest Cartoons, as Selected by 1,000 Animation Professionals, edited by Jerry Beck, Turner Publishing, Inc., 1994.)
You don't get to see any live action of Cab in "Snow White," which is too bad, but the animation is incredible and, of course, the music is Cab and his Orchestra at their best.
First Cab sings "St. James Infirmary" in the rotoscoped guise of Koko the Clown. "St. James Infirmary" was Cab's original signature tune, but he wanted something written specifically for himself, so he and Irving Mills wrote "Minnie the Moocher" to supplant "St. James Infirmary." The two melodies are extremely similar, and also bear a close resemblance to "Prohibition Blues." "Snow White" ends with the old Missourians instrumental, "Stopping the Traffic."
This plot, such as it is, is really more a framework to display a series of gags, musical selections, and clever animation. Critics have cited the film as having some of the most imaginative animation and background drawings from the Fleischer Studios artists.