Scrub Me Mama with a Boogie Beat is a 1941 popular boogie-woogie song written by Don Raye. A bawdy, jazzy tune, the song describes a laundry woman from Harlem, New York whose technique is so unusual that people come from all around just to watch her scrub. The Andrews Sisters and Will Bradley & His Orchestra recorded the most successful pop versions of the song.
The animated short was released on March 28, 1941 by Universal Pictures and features no director credit. However, Woody Woodpecker creator Walter Lantz claims to have directed the cartoon himself. The story was written by Ben Hardaway, animation by Alex Lovy and Frank Tipper, and voiceover work by Mel Blanc and Nellie Lutcher. The short uses blackface stereotypes of African-American people and culture, and of life in the rural Southern United States.
The Scrub Me Mama short is today in the public domain.
Jungle Jitters is a 1938 Warner Bros. Merrie Melodies cartoon directed by Friz Freleng. The short was released on February 19, 1938. Because of the racial stereotypes of black people throughout the short, it prompted United Artists to withhold it from syndication within the United States in 1968. As such, the short was placed into the Censored Eleven, a group of eleven Merrie Melodies and Looney Tunes shorts withheld from official television distribution in the United States since 1968 due to heavy stereotyping of black people; because its copyright had already lapsed without renewal a year before this decision, it has remained publicly available through numerous unofficial distributors through secondhand prints.
Snow-White, also known as Betty Boop in Snow-White, is a film in the Betty Boop series from Max Fleischer’s Fleischer Studios directed in 1933. 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 six months to complete.
The plot, such as it is, is really more a framework to display a series of gags, musical selections, and animation. Critics have cited the film as having some of the most imaginative animation and background drawings from the Fleischer Studios artists. Mae Questel performs the voices of Betty Boop and the Olive Oyl-ish Queen, and Cab Calloway is the voice of Koko the Clown, singing St. James Infirmary Blues. Koko’s dancing during the “St. James” number is rotoscoped from footage of Cab Calloway.
The film was deemed “culturally significant” by the United States Library of Congress and selected for preservation in the National Film Registry in 1994. The same year, it was voted #19 of the 50 Greatest Cartoons of all time by members of the animation field. The film is now in the public domain.
History of Fleischer Studios
Fleischer Studios was an American corporation which originated as an animation studio located at 1600 Broadway, New York City, New York. It was founded in 1921 as Inkwell Studios by brothers Ma Fleischer and Dave Fleischer who ran the pioneering company from its inception until Paramount Pictures, the studio’s parent company and the distributor of its films, acquired ownership. In its prime, Fleischer Studios was a premier producer of animated cartoons for theaters, with Walt Disney Productions becoming its chief competitor in the 1930s.
Fleischer Studios is notable for Koko the Clown, Betty Boop, Bimbo, Popeye the Sailor, and Superman. Unlike other studios, whose characters were anthropomorphic animals, the Fleischers’ most successful characters were humans (With the exception of Bimbo in the 1930s.). The cartoons of the Fleischer Studio were very different from the Disney product, both in concept and in execution. As a result, the Fleischer cartoons were rough rather than refined, commercial rather than consciously artistic. But in their unique way, their artistry was expressed through a culmination of the arts and sciences. This approach focused on surrealism, dark humor, adult psychological elements, and sexuality, and the environments were grittier and urban, often set in squalid surroundings, reflecting the Depression as well as German Expressionism.
The Fleischer Studio was built on Max Fleischer’s novelty film series, Out of the Inkwell (1919-1927). The “novelty” was based largely on the results of the rotoscope, invented by Fleischer to produce realistic animation. The first Out of the Inkwell films were produced through The Bray Studio, and featured Fleischer’s first character, “The Clown,” which became known as Ko-Ko the Clown in 1924.
In 1921, The Bray Studio ran afoul with legal issues, having contracted for more films than it could deliver to its distributor, The Goldwyn Company. The Fleischer Brothers left and began their own studio with Dave as Director and Production Supervisor, and Max as Producer. In 1924, Veteran Animator, Dick Huemer came to The Inkwell Studio and redesigned “The Clown” for more efficient animation. Huemer’s new design and experience as an Animator moved them away from their dependency on The Rotoscope for fluid animation. In addition to defining the clown, Huemer established the Fleischer style with its distinctive thick and thin ink lines. In addition, Huemer created Ko-Ko’s companion, Fitz the Dog, who would evolve into Bimbo in 1930.
Throughout the 1920s, Fleischer was one of the leading producers of animation with clever moments and numerous innovations including the “Rotograph”, an early “Aerial Image” photographic process for compositing animation with live action backgrounds. Other innovations included Ko-Ko Song Car-Tunes and sing-along shorts featuring the famous bouncing ball, a precursor to Karaoke.
The short’s horror overtones made it unusual for a Mickey Mouse cartoon. Some theaters refused to show it, believing it to be too scary for kids. At one time, for this reason, it was banned entirely in the United Kingdom, as well as Nazi Germany.
The Fleischer Superman cartoons are a series of seventeen animated short films released in Technicolor by Paramount Pictures and based upon the comic book character Superman, making them his first animated appearance.
They were originally produced by Fleischer Studios, who completed the initial short and eight further cartoons in 1941 and 1942. Production was assumed in May 1942 by Famous Studios, a successor company to Fleischer, who produced eight more cartoons in 1942 and 1943. Superman was the final animated series intitiated by Fleischer Studios, before Famous Studios officially took over production.
Although all entries are in the public domain, ancillary rights such as merchandising contract rights, as well as the original 35mm master elements, are owned today by Warner Bros. Entertainment. Warner has owned Superman publisher DC Comics since 1969.
Poor Cinderella is a 1934 Fleischer Studio animated short film featuring Betty Boop. The first entry in the Color Classics series, Poor Cinderella was Fleischer Studio’s first color film, and the only appearance of Betty Boop in color during the Fleischer era.
The short was made in the two-strip Cinecolor process, because Walt Disney had exclusive rights to the new 3-strip Technicolor process from 1932 to 1935. (The remaining Color Classics from 1934 and 1935 were made in two-color Technicolor.) Betty’s hair was colored red to take advantage of this. The short also used Fleischer Studio’s Rotograph process, in order to provide some scenes with additional depth of field. Along with many of the other Color Classics, Poor Cinderella is today in the public domain and can be freely downloaded from the Internet Archive, among other locations.
Rudy Vallee appears in caricature, singing the title song during the ball sequence.