Cartoon Reviews

Saturday, May 13, 2017

Betty Boop's Bamboo Isle (1932)

Betty Boop's Bamboo Isle was one of the first five Betty Boop cartoons I had ever watched, and what I remember most was when, early in the episode, Bimbo crashes his motorboat and gets tossed into Betty's canoe, and she responds with a startled "Holy Smacks." It's the G-rated version of "holy shit," but the way Betty says it is funny and a little coquettish. I also mostly remember the ending, after Betty and Bimbo escape the island tribe in Bimbo's boat, when it would seem Bimbo gets lucky but perhaps only so lucky as getting a big wet kiss from Betty, and not the other thing. She is innocent after all despite her status as a sex symbol.

This episode is of course one of the most iconic episodes due to Betty's rotoscoped hula dance. The dance is impressive and is modeled after the live action dancer from the intro to the cartoon that features The Royal Samoans, who also provide an excellent soundtrack to the episode. The dance is quite sensationally scandalous because Betty is essentially topless with a thin lei just barely censoring her nudity.

Bamboo Isle is a fun, classic, pre-code episode, although sorely dated from Bimbo resorting to a racial gimmick to save himself from the island tribe as well as Betty being appropriated as a dark skinned island native. A time capsule of a bygone era that still holds up as an entertaining, memorable short, Bamboo Isle is a great eight minute diversion.        

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