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BETTY BOOP: ESSENTIAL COLLECTION

         

For Hicksflicks.com, Sept. 20, 2013

Back in the olden, golden days of double features and newsreels and travelogues and comedy shorts and stage shows and giveaway drawings, all for a quarter to provide a full evening's worth of entertainment, there were also short, six- or seven-minute, cartoons.

Most popular were Mickey, Donald and Goofy under the Disney banner, and Bugs, Daffy and Porky under the Warner Bros. banner — but they were not alone. Universal gave us Woody Woodpecker, MGM gave us Tom and Jerry, and Paramount gave us Popeye and Betty Boop … along with uncountable others. Many of which have made their way to DVD. And some that perhaps never will.

So any time there's a new release on DVD of previously unavailable vintage 'toons, it is cause to rejoice. And with two new sets of Betty Boop cartoons — "The Essential Collection," volumes 1 and 2 — there is excitement among fans of the animated vixen.

Now you may say, hey, this section is for older shows that have never been on DVD, and there are lots of Betty Boop DVDs out there.

True enough, but there has never before been an official Betty Boop release. All those other collections you've seen contain cartoons that have fallen out of copyright and are in the public domain. —  and if you've looked closely, even though they are on a variety of DVD labels, each set has the same cartoons, some in pretty good condition, some in deplorable disrepair.

But these two collections, from Olive Films, are remastered, they look fabulous, they're available in both DVD and Blu-ray, and none of the 12 cartoons on each disc has ever been released before.

These black-and-white cartoons might seem a bit silly and antiquated by today's standards, but some of the humor is quite sly, especially in those initially released before the Production Code went into effect in 1934 (notice that Betty's skirts are longer in the post-Production Code 'toons, no longer revealing her garter or underwear).

But the chance to see something that's been out of print for decades is always alluring to a film buff, even if he's not a particular fan of the subject. And if he is, they're irresistible.