Tuesday, December 26, 2006

Freeze Frame: Bimbo's Initiation

Bimbo’s Initiation, released in 1931, is considered by numerous animation historians to be among the best shorts produced by the Fleischer Studio. It ranked 37 in Jerry Beck’s 1994 book The 50 Greatest Cartoons as Selected by 1,000 Animation Professionals. Beck provided this synopsis of the cartoon’s story:

It's a strange cartoon. Bimbo falls down a manhole—smack into a surreal fraternity of characters with melted candles on their heads and two-by fours behind their backs. "Wanna be a member?" they ask again and again, and each time Bimbo says no and suffers for it. Bimbo finally meets Betty Boop, who performs an erotic dance and asks him the usual question. Not surprisingly, Bimbo finally says yes.

By now you are probably scrolling up to see if this is still 2719 Hyperion, the blog that addresses Disney entertainment. Yes, it’s still us. So, what exactly are we doing talking about a Fleischer cartoon?

Well, in the opening seconds of Bimbo’s Initiation, the title character inadvertently falls into a manhole as Mr. Beck describes above.

After the manhole cover closes back over, an extremely fast-moving character mischievously secures it with a comically oversize lock. Just who is this mysterious prankster? Take a look:

Yes, it seems that while Mickey was outshining the competition at the box office in the early 1930s, he still found time to sneak into at least one non-Disney produced cartoon and cause trouble. A clever, and for the most part unnoticed gag on the part of Dave Fleischer and his crew.

3 comments:

Peter said...

Take a look at Ub Iwerks studios shorts, they often feature Mickey.
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=I-PuNKFRuCw

This early Iwerks studio short in particular shows that Ub still had Mickey on his brain.

Major Pepperidge said...

What a great observation! It's pretty well known that there were many mice in animation that were similar to Mickey, but this really looks like our hero. He's not wearing pants either, which somehow fits with the Fleischer naughtiness!

Stephen Worth said...

There are plenty of Mickeys in Terrytoons and Fleischer cartoons, well before Steamboat Willie was released. Now, that's a REAL trick!

See ya
Steve