Cartoon Reviews

Sunday, March 19, 2017

The Old Man of the Mountain (1933)

The Old Man of the Mountain is a classic, bizarre, and sexy Betty Boop cartoon with another smoking soundtrack from Cab Calloway and his Orchestra; in fact this one has Cab Calloway throughout the entire episode, voicing all of the characters except for Betty Boop. Like in Minnie the Moocher (1932) and Snow White (1933), Cab's rotoscoped dance and song number come at the climax shortly before everything falls apart with a big chase scene. This one does a good job at building up to the appearance of the Old Man of the Mountain (a recluse residing in the mountain who everyone fears for no clear reason) with a lot of foreboding, as well as a creepy and, if I'm interpreting it right, distasteful joke with Betty meeting an unhappy female walrus anthropomorph coming down the mountain with a baby carriage containing triplets resembling the Old Man of the Mountain.

This cartoon apparently caused the biggest stir among the moralist communities at the time because of the sexuality used. This, as well as Hays Code enforcement, had an unfortunate result of Betty eventually being toned down by 1934. Woefully enough, Jazz music would become excluded from her cartoons too. Boo!   

What I find pretty cool here is that Betty is not as frightened by the Old Man as she was the Spectral Walrus from Minne the Moocher, taking him on in a sing and dance off (that had an influence on The Nightmare Before Christmas (1993)), and it is terrific. All in all, the cartoon is a proto-music-video in a similar vein to Minnie the Moocher, although I like to think of Betty as older and more mature by this point, as she's not running away from home this time but working at a tourist center and doesn't act frightened but is rather brave, attempting to ascend the mountain and confront the old man, despite the whole town fleeing in fear.

I also absolutely adore Betty's outfit in this one. Her pointed collar reminds me a little of Vampirella or maybe even Caroline Munro's character from Starcrash (1978).

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