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Betty Boop (Hays Office era)

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Betty Boop (Hays Office era)
Betty Boop (Hays Office Era).png
The Hays Code has took her boop-oop-a-doop away...


While the Betty Boop shorts from 1932-mid 1934 were well received by moviegoers and modern day viewers for their edgy, surreal and sexualized humor, great musical soundtrack and Betty Boop's sweet "flapper girl"-type personality, a decline in quality surfaced when the Hays Office (the then censorship bureau) laid new censorship rules to all films, which banned the use of sexual references and innuendos in all theatrical productions of the time, especially in animated cartoons.

Shorts

  • "Betty Boop's Life Guard" (1934)
  • "Poor Cinderella" (1934; only short in color)
  • "There's Something About a Solider" (1934)
  • "Betty Boop's Little Pal" (1934)
  • "Betty Boop's Prize Show" (1934)
  • "Keep in Style" (1934)
  • "When My Ship Comes In" (1934)
  • "Baby Be Good" (1935)
  • "Taking the Blame" (1935)
  • "Stop That Noise" (1935)
  • "Swat the Fly" (1935)
  • "No! No! A Thousand Times No!" (1935)
  • "A Little Soap and Water" (1935)
  • "A Language All My Own" (1935)
  • "Judge for a Day" (1935)
  • "Making Stars" (1935)
  • "Betty Boop with Henry, the Funniest Living American" (1935)
  • "Little Nobody" (1935)
  • "Betty Boop and the Little King" (1936)
  • "Not Now" (1936)
  • "Betty Boop and Little Jimmy" (1936)
  • "We Did It" (1936)
  • "A Song a Day" (1936)
  • "More Pep" (1936)
  • "You're Not Built That Way" (1936)
  • "Happy You and Merry Me" (1936)
  • "Training Pigeons" (1936)
  • "Grampy's Indoor Outing" (1936)
  • "Be Human" (1936)
  • "Making Friends" (1936)
  • "House Cleaning Blues" (1937)
  • "Whoops! I'm a Cowboy" (1937)
  • "The Hot Air Salesman" (1937)
  • "Pudgy Takes a Bow-Wow" (1937)
  • "Pudgy Picks a Fight!" (1937)
  • "The Impractical Joker" (1937)
  • "Ding Dong Doggie" (1937)
  • "The Candid Candidate" (1937)
  • "Service with a Smile" (1937)
  • "The New Deal Show" (1937)
  • "The Foxy Hunter" (1937)
  • "Zula Hula" (1937)
  • "Riding the Rails" (1938)
  • "Be Up to Date" (1938)
  • "Honest Love and True" (1938)
  • "Out of the Inkwell" (1938)
  • "Swing School" (1938)
  • "The Lost Kitten" (1938)
  • "Buzzy Boop" (1938)
  • "Pudgy the Watchman" (1938)
  • "Buzzy Boop at the Concert" (1938)
  • "Sally Swing" (1938)
  • "On with the New" (1938)
  • "Thrills and Chills" (1938)
  • "My Friend the Monkey" (1939)
  • "So Does an Automobile" (1939)
  • "Musical Mountaineers" (1939)
  • "The Scared Crows" (1939)
  • "Rhythm on the Reservation" (1939)

Bad Qualities

  1. Due to the reason stated above, Betty's original characterization of a likable sex symbol ended up being changed to an average, everyday 1930s woman with barely any personality.
    • In addition, the new outfit was given to make her look more cleaner barely suits her. By late 1938, she was given a redesign that looks straight up uncanny.
  2. None of the other original characters such as Koko the Clown or Bimbo the Dog reappear. Especially Bimbo, who was removed by order of the Hays Code due to a dog and a human into a relationship giving out specifications of bestalility.
  3. Some of the new characters like Junior, Freddy, Wiffle Piffle, Silent Henry, Myron the Kitten, Little Jimmy, Buzzy Boop (despite being likable), and the cat from "Not Now" are either too unlikable or too uninteresting to be worth remembering.
  4. This era has some subpar or mediocre shorts such as
    • "Baby Be Good"
    • "Taking the Blame"
    • "Swat the Fly"
    • "Making Stars"
    • "Betty Boop with Henry, the Funniest Living American"
    • "Not Now"
    • "We Did It"
    • "A Song a Day"
    • "Be Human"
    • "Whoops! I'm a Cowboy"
    • "The Hot Air Salesman"
    • "Pudgy Picks a Fight!"
    • "The New Deal Show"
    • "Zula Hula"
    • "My Friend the Monkey"
    • "The Scared Crows"
    • "On with the New"
      • These shorts range from very boring to outright mean (Pudgy being usually the victim, as these very abusive torture cartoons).
  5. Some shorts bluntly reuse elements/jokes from earlier shorts, but are watered down. For instance, "The Hot Air Salesman" features a spot remover gag similar to the one in "Betty Boop's Crazy Inventions". Elements from the same short are used in "The New Deal Show" as well.
    • "The Lost Kitten" feels like an even more watered-down rehash of the already mediocre "Happy You and Merry Me".
  6. In contrast to the creativity of the earlier shorts, many of the plots of this era are pretty barebones and by the book.
  7. Okay to annoying voice acting. For instance, after Mae Questel stepped down from voicing Betty after "Be Up to Date", several other actresses took over, and the majority of them couldn't capture her well.
  8. Occasional use of racial stereotypes like the black caricatures in "Making Stars" and "Zula Hula", Betty mimicking Chinese and Italian people in "Pudgy Takes a Bow-Wow", and the Indian stereotyping in "Rhythm on the Reservation". All of these have been banned in recent years for these reasons (though, to be fair, these cartoons were a product of their time, despite them being unacceptable back then too).
  9. The final short, "Yip Yip Yippy", did not even feature Betty Boop at all. It was a one-shot short that was a rather generic cowboy tale. The only reason why this short was labeled as a Betty Boop cartoon was solely to fill the theatrical cartoon release schedule and fulfill the contract.
    • On top of that, after the release of the said short, it wouldn't be until 46 years later where Betty Boop would finally return to the screen in the primetime animated special, The Romance of Betty Boop, which aired on CBS on March 20, 1985.

Good Qualities

  1. Some lovable characters like Pudgy the Dog, his unnamed love interest, Professor Grampy, Sally Swing and the Little King.
  2. Some good shorts such as
    • "Poor Cinderella"
    • "Little Nobody"
    • "Betty Boop and Grampy"
    • "Swing School"
    • "Sally Swing"
    • "More Pep"
    • "Riding the Rails"
    • "A Language All My Own"
    • "You're Not Built That Way"
  3. The soundtrack is still great.
  4. The animation remains smooth and fluent.
  5. The relationship between Betty Boop and Pudgy is very cute and purely heartwarming.

Reception

These shorts, unlike the pre-Hays era shorts, aren't remembered fondly by fans, critics or animation buffs. Despite this, they've mostly garnered mixed-to-positive reviews (at least, for the most part).

Trivia

  • As stated in the list of shorts, "Poor Cinderella" is the only Betty Boop cartoon produced in color, being the first cartoon in the Fleischer Studios series Color Classics. It is also the only Fleischer cartoon made in Cinecolor because Disney had exclusive access to Technicolor's full three color process at the time.
    • Despite that Disney's exclusive contract to Technicolor at the time expired in late-1935, Fleischer Studios wouldn't go into full-on Technicolor cartoon production unlike most of the major animation studios of the time such as Disney, Warner Bros. and MGM until at least 1940 when the studio started producing the Gabby spin-off series and the Superman cartoon series, with the notable exceptions of three double-length Popeye the Sailor color specials "Popeye the Sailor Meets Sindbad the Sailor" (1936), "Popeye the Sailor Meets Ali Baba's Forty Thieves" (1937) and "Aladdin and His Wonderful Lamp" (1939), the post-1935 Color Classics series, as well as the feature film adaptation of "Gulliver's Travels" (1939).
    • A copy of "Honest Love and True" was found in 2017, but it has no sound. There is also a copy of "Buzzy Boop at the Concert" discovered in Russia in 2019. Neither one is available online or on the internet at the moment, however.

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