Jazz on film: Cab Calloway & Betty Boop

Cab Calloway, a great orchestra leader and perfomer, appeared in three Betty Boop animation shorts of the Fleischer Studios in the early 1930s. The first features Calloway's signature song Minnie the Moocher. The song was already a hit in 1931, the animated short must have made it even more popular. It's not only Calloway's music we hear in these animated films, but also his dancing is captured. His dance moves were used, through rotoscoping, to create animated carachters. Rotoscoping is an animation technique in which animators trace over footage, frame by frame, for use in live-action and animated films.

Minnie the Moocher

Directed by Dave Fleischer
Animation by Willard Bowsky and Ralph Somerville
Originally released on March 11, 1932
Songs: Prohibition Blues, Minnie the Moocher, Vine Street Drag


Snow White

Directed by Dave Fleischer
Animated by Roland Crandall
Originally released on March 31, 1933
Songs: St. James Infirmary Blues, Stoppin' the Traffic


The Old Man of the Mountain

Directed by Dave Fleischer
Animated by Bernard Wolf and Thomas Johnson
Originally released on August 4, 1933
Songs: Minnie the Moocher, The Old Man of the Mountain, You Got to Hi-De-Hi

Some of these old cartoons are currently not shown on American television due to potentially offensive African-American and other racial characterizations. You should be aware of this, as it is good to keep yourself informed about the context and history. These can be viewed as a product of their time, but still have implications in today's society. Besides all that, they do have a high artistic value.

2015 17 jul