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Western Animation / Snow White (1933)

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This 1933 Betty Boop short is a very, very loose adaptation of the original tale of Snow White, not to be confused with the Disney version. During wintertime, Betty visits her step-mother the queen, with the two guards Koko The Clown and Bimbo the Dog being instantly smitten by her. After the queen is told by her Magic Mirror that Betty is the fairest in the land, she orders her beheaded. However, Bimbo and Koko are too infatuated to comply with this order and fall down the hole that was intended for her-as Betty escapes and gets frozen in an ice block in the process, with the seven dwarfs carrying her away. The rest of the short is centered around Koko and Bimbo as they try to save her.

This short is in the public domain and can be viewed here.

On a side note, this short was something of a one man show-the only animator on this short was dedicated Fleischer employee Roland "Doc" Crandall, as a reward for his years of hard work at the studio. It took Crandall just six months to complete the seven-minute short.

Tropes Used In This Short:

  • Baleful Polymorph:
    • The Queen uses her mirror to turn Koko into some sort of ghost-creature, then to freeze him, and turns Bimbo into a...a cactus-thing and freezes him.
    • The Mirror turns the Queen into a dragon in the end.
  • Body Horror: Bimbo defeats the Evil Queen (or the dragon-creature she was turned into) by turning her inside out.
  • Composite Character: Koko and Bimbo take the roles of both the huntsmen who are forced to kill Snow White and Prince Charming (more or less)
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  • Creepy Cave: The Mystery Cave that the dwarves carry Snow White through has creepy skeletal fish flying around, and a nightmarish background reflecting the lyrics of "Saint James Infirmary".
  • Creepy Jazz Music: When Snow White (Betty Boop) is seemingly killed by the witch, Calloway (as Koko the Clown) sings a haunting rendition of "Saint James Infirmary", while the witch transforms Koko into a weird ghost-like monster.
  • Deranged Animation: One of the Fleischer's most bizarre works outside of "Swing You Sinners!" and "Minnie the Moocher."
  • Disproportionate Retribution: OFF WITH HER HEAD! For being prettier than the queen.
  • The Dog Bites Back: One interpretation of the ending is that the mirror got sick of the Queen haranguing him and using its powers for evil purposes, choosing to give her a form that matched her evil and to reverse the Baleful Polymorph she put on Bimbo and Koko.
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  • Everything Talks: As usual in Betty Boop's cartoons everything from the mirror, the icicles and a tree stump all come alive.
  • Exposed to the Elements: Despite the snowy weather, Betty still wears her short skirted flapper dress and never shows any signs of being cold.
  • Expy: The Queen looks and sounds very much like Olive Oyl, who also appeared in Fleischer Studios cartoons at the time of this short.
  • Fairest of Them All: Like the original tale, the queen is obsessed with being the "fairest in the land" and as soon as Betty shows up and her magic mirror unsurprisingly gives Betty the title, the Queen does not respond well.
  • God Save Us from the Queen!: The Big Bad of the short is a vain queen obsessed with being "the fairest in the land".
  • Harmless Freezing: Betty falls into an icy lake and comes out trapped in a block of ice shaped like a coffin. However, she keeps opening her eyes while inside, implying that she's fine even though the dwarves seem to think she's dead. The magic mirror's spell just before the climax releases her from the ice coffin, and she's no worse for wear.
  • In Name Only: The short starts out pretty faithful to the Grimms fairy tale, but around the middle it drifts off so far, it's advised to consider this cartoon strictly as a Betty Boop short (even the poisoned apple is nowhere to be seen.)
  • Magic Mirror: The Queen's hand mirror. It comes to life when the Queen talks to it.
  • Meaningless Villain Victory: The Queen successfully gets rid of Betty, Koko, and Bimbo, and her magic mirror tells her that she, the Queen, is now the fairest in the land. The mirror then explodes, casting a spell that revives the heroes and turns the Queen into a dragon. There's nothing left for the Queen to do but chase the heroes furiously.
  • Melancholy Musical Number: "St. James Infirmary." Koko sings it to express his sadness at Betty's apparent death. It's an old blues song about a lost loved one that existed years before this cartoon.
  • Mook–Face Turn: Bimbo and Koko immediately notice how beautiful Betty is, and are swayed into refusing to execute her by her sobs and pleas.
  • One-Winged Angel: Near the end of the short, the mirror turns the Queen into a dragon who chases after Betty, Koko and Bimbo.
  • Paper Tiger: The Queen's fire-breathing dragon form looks scary, but Bimbo handily beats her by grabbing her tongue and turning her inside-out.
  • Pragmatic Adaptation: The magic mirror, which is usually depicted as a large wall mirror, is a hand mirror in this version. This enables the Queen to carry it with her because, in this version, she uses the mirror to put spells on the heroes.
  • Public Domain Animation: The short has entered the public domain and can be freely shared by anyone.
  • Puddle-Covering Chivalry: Bimbo and Koko put down a sheet and Bimbo's long johns for Betty to walk over when she first arrives at the castle, despite the fact that there was no visible puddle.
  • Random Events Plot: People tend to randomly turn into dragons and/or a frying pan roasting eggs.
  • Rotoscoping: Koko's dancing was accomplished by rotosoping Cab Calloway singing and dancing.
  • Scaled Up: Near the end of the short, the Magic Mirror turns the Queen into a monstrous dragon who proceeds to chase Betty, Bimbo and Koko.
  • Villain Song: Downplayed. The Queen sings the line "Magic mirror in my hand, who's the fairest in the land?" at two different points in the short. The melody is very upbeat for a villain song.
  • Villainous Breakdown: After her Meaningless Villain Victory that causes her to be turned into an ugly dragon immediately after being declared the fairest in the land, the Queen chases Betty, Bimbo, and Koko, seemingly trying to eat them. This may be justified because, since she was turned into a dragon that doesn't speak or show any other signs of sentience, she may have lost her sentience
  • Wicked Stepmother: The Queen is this to Betty.
  • Witch Classic: At one point, the Queen turns herself into a traditional-looking witch and rides her magic mirror like a broomstick.


Video Example(s):


Koko sings St. James Infirmary

A classic 30's cartoon example of this trope. We've got Cab Calloway as a clown turning into a rotoscoped ghost thing while singing an old blues song. Just your everyday 30's cartoon stuff.

How well does it match the trope?

5 (9 votes)

Example of:

Main / CreepyJazzMusic

Media sources: