Thursday, May 28, 2009

Screen Songs: Sing Along

Screen Songs: Kun je nog zingen, zing dan mee (Nederlands) Screen Songs: Sing Along ( English)


Betty Boop in Karaoke avant-la-lettre
Hans Koert

A few month ago I was able to enlarge my collection of Betty Boop cartoons, thanks to Jerry. Betty, the humanized dog, a creation by Grim Natwick for Max Fleischer’s studios has always been a favourite of mine.

Betty Boop became a popular cartoon star and had her own series of films, labelled as Betty Boop Cartoons since the second half of 1932 up to the end of the 1930s. In the 1960s a coloured version was reissued. She was fashioned after singer and actress Helen Kane, which Natwick had found on a sheet cover and mixed it with the characteristics of a French poodle. In her first appearances Betty looked like a dogs – since 1932 she became a 1920s flapper girl. I wrote about that in previous blogs.But few people know that Betty also appeared in other cartoon series. At first she didn’t had her own series of films, but was part of the so-called Talkartoons, which were Fleischer first regular sound series. Paramount Talkartoons are something entirely new and entirely different from anything ever seen and heard before. For the first time cartoons will be actual talking pictures (in a late 1920s advertisement) The first one was titled Dizzy Dishes (1930) and her last one in this series: The Betty Boop Limited ( 1932). Thanks to the new sound film, Max Fleischer also started a new series, called Song Car-Tunes, a “bouncing ball” cartoon series, later renamed as Screen Songs. His first bouncing-ball cartoons were released since 1924 and, the actually “Follow The Bouncing Ball” gimmick started with the film song: My Old Kentucky Home (1926). These films were made as silent films and later sound was added.
These 1930s Screen Songs, sing-along shorts, karaoke-avant-la-lettre, in which animated cartoons and live –action footage were combined, became very popular. And sold very well - Paramount even asked Max Fleischer to reconsider its contract ( which Fleischer did!). This series of Screen songs run up to 1938 and was continued between 1947 and 1951 by
Famous Studios.
Below this blog you’ll find a list of Screen Songs as released by Max Fleischer during the 1930s and from the hundreds of titles only a few dozen survived and were posted on the internet. Last year Original Films reissued a great series of Soundies compilations; Soundies, shorts, the “music clips” from the 1940s. I wonder if ever a compilations of these Screen Songs have been released too on video or DVD. If so, I’m anxious to learn more about it:

I selected three Screen Songs, all sung by well known artists from the 1930s. To start: with the tune Kitty From Kansas City, in which we recognize a moustached vocalist who happens to be Rudy Vallee, the famous crooner from the Roaring Twenties. He made some great Screen Song like Betty Co-Ed, I wrote about in a previous blog. Betty plays “Kitty”, who visits the “Rudy Valey” (what’s in a name) and in this primitive short Max Fleischer hits a lot of great musical gimmicks, I like so much.

The next fragment is by the Boswell Sisters, who play the tune When It’s Sleepy Time Down South.

And, last but not least, one of the younger Screen Song from 1936, no Betty this time, with the Vincent Lopez Orchestra in a tune titled: I Don't Want To Make History, an indictment of war, a cartoon, which remind me to the early Monty Python films.

I love to share with you links to two sites wich have lists of those Sing Along films, as produced by the Max Fleischer's Studios as SCREEN SONGS. Both lists learn that hunderds of those films have been made and I'm affraid but few must have survived.

Paramount Screen Songs ( 1929-1935)

Screen Songs

Honolulu Baby Musical Mountaineers Mysterious Mose Betty Boop for President Oscar Aleman Choro Music Flexible Records Hit of the Week-Durium Keep Swinging News letter Keep Swinging Contributions

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Anonymous Gregory said...

They're always fun to watch!

2:51 AM  

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