We’re going to close out our Jennifer Connelly Memorial Crush-a-Thon with an animated crush…one shared by millions of animation fans across the world. It’s the one and only Betty Boop! She was one of the first big cartoon stars and proved early on that cartoons were not just kids stuff. After all, she was one of the first great movie sex symbols. We’re used to seeing her image on all kinds of products today, often wearing a bright red dress which shows lots of leg. But in actuality, she only made one color cartoon, 1934’s “Poor Cinderella.”
The story really doesn’t need much explaining here. It’s the classic Cinderella story told as 10 ½ minute musical. Most cartoon shorts were usually about seven minutes long, so this is a bit unique. The film also does not feature Betty’s usual co-stars like Bimbo, Grampy, and Koko the Clown. Of course, it does still add a bit of a Betty Boop twist to the classic story. Betty plays Cinderella, forced to wear rags and do all the housework. When her two sisters need to get ready for the Prince’s big ball, it’s poor Cinderella who must do all the washing and ironing to get ready.
Of course, after the sisters have left, a fairy godmother appears. She emerges from the flame of a candle in a pretty cool little piece of animation, and her look definitely seems as if it might have inspired Disney’s artists a few years later when the created the design of the Blue Fairy in “Pinocchio.” The fairy godmother transforms a pumpkin, some mice, and two lizards into a carriage, horses, and footmen ready to take Cinderella to the ball. She also gives Cinderella a new wardrobe…and enter our biggest “Betty Boop Twist” of the film. Rather than simply transforming what Miss Boop is wearing…her rags dissolve, leaving her in her tiny undergarments for a few seconds before a fancy gown appears over them. Remember…she’s one of the first great movie sex symbols, after all.
At the ball, Cinderella immediately catches the eye of the Prince and they dance…to a song sung by a caricature of Rudy Vallee, no less. Then the clock strikes midnight, glass slipper…you know the drill.
Betty Boop was a creation of the Fleischer Studios. Though I love Disney, the Looney Tunes, etc…for my money, the Fleischers were among the most creative of the classic animation studios. This project was one of their most ambitious. Their Tabletop Process which added amazing depth to their backgrounds is used to it’s full effect here. Not to mention the fact that the background art is just plain gorgeous. I think it’s fair to say that the scenes of Betty and the Prince dancing may well have had an influence on the animators who created the dance sequence in “Beauty and the Beast” some 57 years later.
Ultimately, though, there’s just no denying the appeal of Betty Boop. She doesn’t vamp it up as much as she does in some of her other films, but “Poor Cinderella” does manage to be a sweet take on the classic fairy tale…with just a bit of a sexy edge. Boop-boop-be-do!
Well, that’s gonna wrap up our Crush-a-Thon! Thanks for reading and thanks to all of our great guest bloggers for participating!