Betty Boops Bamboo Isle
Betty Boop's 33rd cartoon begins with live footage of the Royal
Samoans performing a lively song, while up in front, Meri (name supplied by
Leslie Cabarga in his book, The Fleischer Story) dances wearing a grass
skirt and several strategically placed leis. Meri is also wearing some kind of
flowery bra, or at least a lei tied around that part of her body.
When the animation begins, we see Bimbo at
sea in a little motorboat, playing "Twelfth Street Rag" on a ukulele.
He is accompanied by his motor, and by a fish who separates itself from its
skeleton and plays the skeleton like a washboard. After a lot of running around,
Bimbo finally comes ashore on Bamboo Isle. His boat breaks up and forms itself
into a doghouse, and the motor runs inside like a dog -- a favorite Fleischer
gag. Bimbo himself lands in Betty Boop's canoe. Betty Boop in this cartoon is a
dark-skinned Pacific Islander. Her anchor, when she pulls it up, shakes itself
like a dog -- another favorite Fleischer gag.
Bimbo sings Betty a song in a voice
startlingly different from his speaking voice. The words appear to be a mixture
of Samoan and English, and we were not able to transcribe them.
Bimbo and Betty end up in a little round
clearing surrounded by trees, who greet them by singing a beautiful, slow, deep,
harmonized Samoan song. Bimbo is terrified. Then the "natives" arrive.
Bimbo hits himself over the head with a bone to raise a knot, sticks the bone
through the knot, pulls little circles out of the air to use as earrings (these
were the circles flying around his head from the blow), and rubs dirt on his
white cheeks to disguise himself. He sings to his hosts in Samoan, and they
treat him as an honored guest. Next we hear a bit of a piece called
Next we see a Samoan clapping dance,
performed by five rotoscoped men. Then Betty performs Meri's dance, rotoscoped
over Meri's figure. It is a striking effect. Betty is more scantily clad than
Meri was; Betty has no bra and only one lei that barely covers her breasts.
Rain starts falling, washing the dirt off
Bimbo's face. The Samoans are angry to discover that Bimbo is a white dog. Bimbo
and Betty run off together, escaping in Bimbo's motorboat. The cartoon ends with
Bimbo and Betty kissing behind an umbrella that has a big hole in it, so our
view is not obstructed.
The beautiful Samoan music and the
remarkable rotoscoped dances make this an interesting cartoon. The Fleischers
were particularly fond of the rotoscoped footage of Betty Boop, and later used
it in two other cartoons.