A few years before the classic Disney movie ‘Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs’ was released back in the 1930’s, there was an alternative, shorter and slightly strange animated version of the classic Brothers Grimm Fairy Tale starring Betty Boop as our heroine!
This version is more humorous and lighter in places. The opening credits are partly to a tune by jazz legend Cab Calloway who later appears in the film as Koko the clown. Betty Boop sings “I wanna see my Step-Mama” to the tune of ‘Mary had a little lamb’ while the wicked queen is talking to herself in the mirror.
The Queen orders ‘Snow White’ to be tied up and executed. The tree releases her but she forms a giant snowball which turns into a sort of ice-coffin as it floats towards the house of the seven dwarfs.
A clown (voiced by Cab Calloway) is on his way to save Snow White but is turned into a bizarre ghost by the mirror simultaneously to the Queen being disguised as an old lady. The mirror then tricks the Queen by saying she is the fairest in the land and thaws the ice to rescue Snow White and the clown, whilst the Queen is turned into a dog-like dragon monster!
It is great that a film voted No 19 of the 50 Greatest Cartoons of all time is available in the public domain. It is an important milestone in the Golden Age of American animation, particularly as the majority of the animation was produced by just one man, Roland Crandall, over a six month period.
There is definitely more to this film than meets the eye and it is worth watching a few times to ensure you catch all of the background detail. The face of the mirror has been compared to Cab Calloway himself and the Queen (voiced by Mae Questel, who also voiced Betty Boop) is said to resemble Olive Oyl from the Popeye movies. There is an extremely surreal moment in a dark cave with flying skeletons and floating ghosts when Koko sings “St James Infirmary Blues”. Although the Disney version is an excellent movie in its own right, this version is much different and well worth checking out. I would definitely describe it as a Classic Cartoon.
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