Fleischer Studios (1930)

A Bimbo cartoon (though he is still unnamed).

Bimbo is the hot dog vendor at an opera led by a Leopold Stokowski-like lion, with plenty of operatic mice. Includes a repeating gag of a hippo coming and going through the seats, displacing patrons.

Animated by Seymour Kneitel & Al Eugster

For the Fleischer brothers, the transition to sound was relatively easy. With the new contract with Paramount Pictures, and without the burden of Red Seal Pictures and Alfred Weiss, Max Fleischer was free to experiment with new, bold ideas. First he changed the name of the Ko-Ko Song Cartunes series to Screen Songs. Although the Screen Songs were successful, Fleischer felt that it wasn’t enough. Walt Disney also seemed to gain a great amount of fame through his sound cartoons. Max decided to work with his brother Dave on a new series of cartoons where the characters did more than just simply dance to the music of the “bouncing ball”. The name for the new series was to be Talkartoons. When the idea was pitched to Paramount, they leaped at the opportunity.

The Talkartoons started out as one-shot cartoons. The first entry in the series was Noah’s Lark, released on October 26, 1929. Although a Fleischer cartoon, it appeared to be patterned after the Aesop’s Film Fables of Paul Terry. In it, a Farmer Al Falfa-esque Noah allows the animals of his ark to visit Luna Park. When he brings them back into the ship, the weight is so heavy that it sinks. In the end, Noah chases topless mermaids throughout the ocean waters. Lark has very few gray tones, very much like the Screen Songs produced during the same time and the earlier Fleischer silent works. It also included copyright-free songs, mostly utilized from old 78-rpm’s.

The series began to take a new direction, however, with the arrival of Max and Dave’s brother, Lou Fleischer, whose skills in music and mathematics made a great impact at the studio. A dog named Bimbo gradually became the featured character of the series. The first cartoon that featured Bimbo was Hot Dog (1930), the first Fleischer cartoon to use a full range of greys. New animators such as Grim Natwick, Shamus Culhane, and Rudy Zamora began entering the Fleischer Studio, with new ideas that pushed the Talkartoons into a league of their own. Natwick especially had an off-beat style of animating that helped give the shorts more of a surreal quality. Perhaps his greatest contribution to the Talkartoons series and the Fleischer Studio was the creation of Betty Boop with Dizzy Dishes in 1930.

By late 1931, Betty Boop dominated the series. Koko the Clown was brought out of retirement from the silent days as a third character to Betty and Bimbo. By 1932, the series was at an inevitable end and instead, Betty Boop would be given her own series, with Bimbo and Koko as secondary characters.

Fleischer Brothers (1930)

Swing You Sinners! is a 1930 animated cartoon short, directed by the Fleischer Brothers as part of the Talkartoons. The cartoon is notable for its surreal, dark and sometimes even abstract content.

Let’s join Bimbo as he is chased by a policeman for trying to steal a chicken!

The cartoon was released on September 24, 1930 in the Talkartoons series and was animated by Ted Sears and Willard Bowsky. George Cannata, Shamus Culhane, Al Eugster, William Henning, Seymour Kneitel, and Grim Natwick also worked on it, but are uncredited in the title card. The cartoon was animated by a completely new staff who’d never worked in animation before because the studio had to replace some animators who quit. Animator Shamus Culhane states in his memoirs that though he created and animated what might be construed as a racist caricature of “a Jew with a black beard, huge nose, and a derby,” the studio’s atmosphere and its mixed ethnic crew made the depiction completely acceptable to all the Jews in the studio. The caricature in question is a reference to Jewish-American comedian Monroe Silver.

Motion Picture News wrote on October 11, 1930, “The clever cartoon pen of Max Fleischer again demonstrates itself in this Talkartoon. An off-stage chorus sings the lyrics to the rhythm of the action and the result is usually diverting. The cartoon hero is this time taken into a grave-yard with the absurd results that you might well imagine. Worth a play.”

The soundtrack was composed by W. Franke Harling, with lyrics by Sam Coslow. Title song was based on “Sing, You Sinners!”, some of which is played in the titles of the cartoon.