Thursday, March 11, 2010

Fleischer Studios - Betty Boop as Snow White

Around 1915, Max Fleischer invented the rotoscope technique where live-action film movement is traced frame by frame to create lifelike animations. Max and his brother Dave developed their first character, Koko the Clown using this method, and in 1921, founded Out of the Inkwell Films (later Fleischer Studios). The studio became well known for its human characters (as opposed to the anthropomorphized mice, cats, dogs, ducks and pigs of the other animation rivals). In its prime, the Fleischers--with characters like Betty Boop, Popeye and Superman--were the only serious competition for Walt Disney.

In 1933, the Fleischers produced their own version of Snow White featuring Ms. Boop as the, um, princess. The song, Saint James Infirmary Blues, was performed by Cab Calloway. The real artistic talent behind this film was not, however, Grim Natwick* nor the Fleischer brothers. It was animator Roland Crandall.
Dave Fleischer was credited as director, although virtually all the animation was done by Roland Crandall. Crandall received the opportunity to make Snow White on his own as a reward for his several years of devotion to the Fleischer studio, and the resulting film is considered both his masterwork and an important milestone of The Golden Age of American animation. "Snow White" took Crandall 6 months to do.
The film has been deemed "culturally significant" by the United States Library of Congress and selected for preservation in the National Film Registry. In 1994 it was voted #19 of the 50 Greatest Cartoons of all time by members of the animation field. The film is now in public domain. Source: Wikipedia

Watch the film...

Video via the Internet Archive

*Note: It was 1934 when Grim Natwick went to work for Walt Disney as the primary animator of his Snow White character. But four years earlier, Natwick was actually employed by the Fleischer's as the original top animator of Betty Boop.

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