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Genre: Surreal humor
Running Time: 8 minutes
Country: United States
Release Date: 1929-1932
Distributed by: Paramount Pictures
Starring: Billy Murray
Claude Reese
Margie Hines
Mae Questel
Episodes: 42 shorts

Talkartoons is a series of 42 short subjects produced by Fleischer Studios and distributed by Paramount Pictures, running from 1929 to 1932.

Good Qualities

  1. The series is responsible for the introduction and development of Betty Boop. Her first appearance was in Dizzy Dishes (1930).
    • The character gained unexpected stardom in mid-1931 and was given her own star billing, like "Mask-A-Raid" for example.
    • She later transformed into a full human with hoop earrings, as evidenced in Any Rags (1932). Betty Boop remains human to this day in merchandise under King Features.
  2. Brilliant voice acting from Mae Questel, Margie Hines, Billy Murray and Claude Reese.
  3. Surreal humor and risque gags, typical of the pre-Code era.
  4. Wonderful gems such as "Swing You Sinners", "Minnie the Moocher", "Chess-Nuts", etc.
  5. Fleischer's art style gained a full range of grays, starting with Hot Dog (1930). Grim Natwick also came in to give the shorts a more surreal, dreamlike quality. He left to work for Ub Iwerks in 1931, but his influence remained strong at the studio.
  6. Notable for its rotoscoped dances, especially with the ghost walrus lip-syncing to Cab Calloway in Minnie the Moocher.
  7. Jazzy soundtrack and urban environments, reflecting on the Fleischer brothers' location in New York City.
  8. "The Betty Boop Limited" ended the series on a good note. By that point, she would be given her own series.
  9. Koko the Clown was brought back as Bimbo's best friend and partner in "The Herring Murder Case". He also can finally talk (albeit ad-libbed in the short), which he was unable to do in silent shorts for Out of the Inkwell.
  10. Most of their shorts, except Accordion Joe, survived for the television market and into the early 1970s. A select number of shorts featuring Betty Boop were restored for DVD from the 35mm interpositive negatives containing the U.M.&M. titles (since the original nitrate elements from Paramount weren't used.)

Bad Qualities

  1. The first few shorts, prior to Hot Dog, had its newspaper comic art style held over from the Out of the Inkwell series that preceded it. It was abandoned after the Fleischers decided to take it in a different direction.
  2. Some weaker entries, such as "Twenty Legs Under the Sea", "Admission Free" and "A Hunting We Will Go".
  3. In his earlier appearances, Bimbo's personality was originally more derivative of Mickey Mouse. His character design also changed between shorts before settling on his official sweater design.
  4. The ad-libbing in the post-synchronization process can be off-putting to a number of viewers, when compared to its Disney and Warner Bros. counterparts. Much of the shorts lack the method of lip-sync (excepting songs and a few scenes with general wordplay and clever puns).
  5. With the exceptions of Any Rags and Minnie the Moocher, most of the shorts had their original titles edited and plastered for broadcast in the mid-1950s. It was at a time when Paramount Pictures didn't want to be associated with television.


  • In the early 1970s, a select number of shorts starring Betty Boop were retraced and repainted for the color television market. Television networks refused to air them, because most people knew that the quality of the redrawns were inferior to the originals.
  • A select number of shorts: "Swing You Sinners", "Bimbo's Initiation" and "Minnie the Moocher" were put in the list of the book to the 50 Greatest Cartoons.



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