Cartoon Reviews

Tuesday, May 14, 2019

Chess-Nuts (1932)

"♫Hel-lo, King-y! Mm-mm, King-y! Oh-oh, king-y! Hel-lo, King-y!" -Betty Boop
Conflict is a-brewin' in chessboard land. The black queen Betty Boop is being controlled and forced against her will to be courted by that lecherous-old-man (Old King Cole) antagonist again, who's got fire in his eyes for the Boop. Who is tasked with the daunting but rewarding duty of saving her? Bimbo the dog (the white king, I mean) of course! B-I-M-B-O; B-I-M-B-O, B-I-M-B-O! Bimbo is his name. And Koko the Clown is along for the ride, too.  

A live action/animated segment as well as a stop motion animation part with dueling chess pieces start things off. I do dig the whole chess-world theme, which I thought was mildly reminiscent of Through the Looking Glass (1871). Bimbo and Koko are fighting with Old King Cole in order to free Queen Betty from the tower, where Betty dances and sings in the window as a kind of cheerleader when the fight evolves from Chess to Bowling and then to Football. The segment when Bimbo runs for a touchdown with a lit-fuse-bomb in place of a football is funny and sort of exciting.

Chess Nuts, though perhaps lacking a little in the memorable music bits, embodies the best of Pre-Code Betty Boop cartoon shorts with humorous takes on mature themes that are admittedly in poor taste at times, but that is part of what makes this so peculiar. Plus the pacing is nice, with something comedic happening nearly every few seconds, and the brief 3D animation segments are a marvel even today. As usual, and understandable for a cartoon a little over six minutes long, things wrap up too quickly and too nicely, but Chess Nuts is still a grande little time in a surreal chess dreamland and a personal favorite Betty Boop cartoon of mine.

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