Heptune presents...

Betty Boop MD

by Brenna and Megaera Lorenz

    Betty Boop's 31st cartoon begins with two introductory Betty Boop songs:

        A hot cornet can go: [cornet sounds]
        But a hot cornet can't "boop-boop-a-doop" like Betty Boop can do!

        A saxophone can go: [saxophone sounds]
        But a saxophone can't "boop-boop-a-doop" like Betty Boop can do!

        This little miss would never miss a chance for vocal tuning,
        And anytime and anywhere you can hear this lady crooning!

        An auto horn can go [auto horn sounds]
        But an auto horn can't "boop-boop-a-doop" like Betty Boop can do!

    This is followed by her earlier song, established in the cartoon Boop-Oop-a-Doop.  Refer to this cartoon write-up for the words.

    Now the cartoon gets underway, and we see a pulsating wagon travelling up and down hills to arrive in a small town where it is greeted by an enthusiastic crowd. The wagon contains a group of itinerant patent medicine hawkers, selling a product called Jippo. Jippo is revealed to be tap water later in the cartoon. The cartoon is poking fun at the patent medicine and health craze that had obsessed the country for the past couple of decades, similar to the one sweeping the country now. Then, as now, anyone could sell any product as a miracle cure for any human complaint, and people would buy it. Many of these medicines and treatments had unsavory side effects. Both the gullibility of the buyers and the side-effects of Jippo are subjects of this interesting cartoon.
    A talking frog introduces Koko, who comes out of the wagon and performs a contortionist act, but Koko's act is not sufficient to induce the crowd to buy Jippo. So Koko summons Betty, who comes out of the wagon, waggles her rear end, and sings (to the tune Now It's Time to Fall in Love):

        If you're feeling wealthy, and want to be healthy,
        Now's the time to buy Jippo;
        They're treating the nation to cheap operation,
        Here's something that you should know:
        For the rate they used to charge to cure St. Vitus,
        You can feel swell and have appendicitis!
        If they cut something extra, they won't charge you extra,
        Now's the time to buy Jippo!

    Then she gives a brief anatomy lesson, after which the crowd begins to buy Jippo. A series of Fleischer gags commences: a skinny, rubbery man drinks Jippo and gets fat; an old man (whose heart sings "Darling, I am growing older") drinks Jippo and turns into a giant baby, and the baby accompanying him drinks Jippo and turns into a miniature old man; a bearded bald man puts Jippo on his head, and his beard is absorbed to reappear on top of his head.
    Then Bimbo, a Jippo salesman, sneaks a swig for himself, whereupon he begins sputtering in a peculiar way. From this point on, all the voicing in the cartoon is provided by none other than Cliff Edwards, otherwise known as Ukulele Ike. Cliff Edwards performed in an astonishing variety of styles, ranging from raunchy, funny-sounding novelty songs to sappy, sentimental cheesiness. To hear him at his cheesiest, watch the Disney cartoon Pinocchio, in which he supplies the voice of Jiminy Cricket. In Betty Boop, MD, however, he is in superb form as he provides a running stretch of the vocal gymnastics known as "effin," a kind of scat singing.
    After Bimbo sputters and spits a bit of effin, he settles down to sing a quiet version of Nobody's Sweetheart, a song about a prostitute:

        You're nobody's sweetheart now,
        And, oh, baby, there's no place for you somehow,
        With all of your fancy clothes, silken gowns,
        You'll be out of place in the middle of your own hometown,
        When you walk down the avenue,
        All the folks just can't believe that it's you.
        With all those painted lips and painted eyes,
        Wearing a bird of paradise,
        It all seems wrong somehow,
        It seems so funny,
        You're nobody's sweetheart now!

    Having completed the song, Ukulele Ike proceeds to give voice to an astonishing sequence of effin sound effects. His voice passes from one person to another as we see the effects of Jippo on each. A man pours Jippo on his peg leg, and it turns into a hand holding a cane. An old man with gout leaps up and dances, and then crawls into his grave. The deep, gutteral sounds made by Ukulele Ike during this grave scene provided the inspiration for Popeye's voice.  One customer loses his skeleton when he takes Jippo; the skeleton dances, whacks the person's butt, and then jumps back in. A giraffe swallows a bottle of Jippo and then barfs out his adam's apple. Finally a baby takes a swig and metamorphoses into Mr. Hyde, bringing this remarkable cartoon to a close.

    This cartoon allowed the Fleischers to engage in their passion for testing the possibilities of animation to produce surreal effects. This experimentation, combined with the eccentric novelty of Cliff Edwards's effin-style singing (at its best!) make this a fun and fascinating cartoon.

This cartoon is available in the following collection:

Return to the Heptune Guide to Betty Boop Cartoons.
Return to the Heptune Jazz and Blues Lyrics Page.

Published 11/27/99.