Thursday, 10 January 2013

Flip's Fetish

Fans of old films are well aware of the enforcement of the Production Code starting in July 1934 that, among other things, tamed several cartoon series, notably Betty Boop. The Code had been written in 1930 but some independent producers weren’t subscribers. One of them was Pat Powers, who was the middle man for the Ub Iwerks cartoons distributed by MGM. Powers didn’t bother getting a Code number for any of the cartoons until 1934, leaving them to be appear on screen with material as far as the film-going public would tolerate.

They tolerated a fair bit in the Flip the Frog cartoon “Room Runners” (1932). The plot has Flip trying to skip out on his hotel bill. But the cartoon starts off with him watching a partially-clad woman tip-toe from one room to the other.

The hotel matron runs through a picture with her head sticking out where the head on the painting would be.

Later, Flip lands in the shower with the woman (who tosses him out) and then he and the house detective watch her dry off (yes, she’s wearing heels while showering). He gets a pin in the eye through the keyhole.

And there’s this gag. Nothing like being subtle.

I guess you’re supposed to be looking at something else and not noticing her fists are circles.

One can only imagine how a cartoon like this played on kids’ shows in the early ‘50s.

The breast shots didn’t make Flip entertaining to the vast movie-going public. The animation was inconsistent and 38 Flips were made before the series was finally dumped. Even turning Flip into an indeterminate species by removing “the Frog” from his opening title card didn’t help. Still, his cartoons have fans. And they have energy, which is more than one can say for some of the animated cartoons being released to theatres 35 years later.

1 comment:

  1. Early 30s cartoons trying to do 'sexy' really tended to run afoul of getting the full point across in animating the hand and wrist areas (though the angular, pointed faces on the women in the Iwkers shorts also were problematic). Aside from the hands in this short, that look like they were borrowed from a Popeye cartoon, you've got the harem dancer in Tom Palmer's "I've got to Sing a Torch Song", who -- judging by her hands -- was the world's first Thalidomide baby. The ability to do the delicate movements the hands and wrists required would have to wait for later.