Heptune presents:

Betty Boop in Chess-Nuts

by Megaera and Brenna Lorenz

    This Talkartoon, produced in 1932, is Betty Boop's twenty-third cartoon appearance. The theme of the cartoon is set during the credits, when the chorus sings:

Old King Cole was a mean old soul,
And a mean old soul was he;
Betty Boop he wanted for his queen,
But that was not to be;
For Bimbo was her lover bold,
And a hero strong was he,
And in the castle where they lived
And fought so merrily
Was Old King Cole with his mean old soul,
And Bimbo and Betty made three!

    The cartoon begins with a live action shot of two old men slowly playing chess. A blob of cigar ash falls on the black queen, who turns into Betty Boop, and the action focuses in on the chess board.
    Now, here we have Betty, the black queen, paired off with "King Cole," the black king, who is none other than the long-nosed, big-chinned guy with the big round forehead who was her royal mate in Mask-A-Raid. Bimbo is the white king, and Koko plays a white chessman of uncertain affinity. As the white king, Bimbo is all white, including his ears and other parts of him that are usually black.
    The cartoon quickly leads to a fight between Cole and Bimbo. At this and several other points in the cartoon, some jaunty start-up music commences, and we are led to expect that we are to be treated to a fun song. Instead, the characters go into a tuneless chant of mostly nonsense syllables, all of which comes off as rather awkward, pointless and lame. The chant is as follows:

Cole: I'm the king!
Bimbo: He's the king! Ah, ha, ha, ha, ha!
Cole: I'm the king!
Bimbo: He's the king! Ah, ha, ha, ha, ha!
Cole: I'm the king!
Bimbo: He's the king!

    Then Bimbo continues:

Hava-jump, stoppa-jump,
Hava-jump, stoppa-jump!

    The chess board is then portrayed as a football field, with attention focusing on Bimbo's white team. Betty watches the action from the window of a rubbery castle. She chants:

Alla-kazam, I saw the king go right around the room!
Alla-kazam, a-riff, a-raff, and that's not half!

    Then the chorus sings, to the tune of "Bingo Was His Name-O":

Bimbo goes running right down the line,
Bimbo is his name,
We hope he makes a touchdown now,
Bimbo is his name.
B-I-M-B-O, B-I-M-B-O, B-I-M-B-O,
For Bimbo is his name!

    The black king comes after Betty, who eyes him nervously, saying, "Hello, Kingee!" He ropes her, pulling her dress up around her chest and giving us the first of several glimpses of her underwear. After tying her up and tormenting her in various ways, he finally throws her over his shoulder and carries her off to a bedroom. The bed comes running out, pawing with its back legs the way a dog does when it's burying something distasteful. Bimbo hears Betty's cries for help, and he crawls into the rubber castle where he fights with Cole again. We get more chanting:

Ocky-woo, ocky-wah,
Ocky-wocky check!
Icky-low, icky-high,
Icky-wicky check!
Son of a gun of a gun of a woo!
And double check!

    Bimbo's crown pummels Cole into submission, after which Betty joins with the white chess pieces in a parade. The cartoon ends with another look at the two old men playing chess, where they grow long beards and a spider builds a web between them. The chorus sings the conclusion to their starting song:

Old King Cole is dead and gone,
But Bimbo and Betty live on!

    In both this cartoon and Mask-A-Raid, Betty plays a queen affiliated officially with an unpleasantly amorous king, and in both cartoons she ditches her old king for her lover, Bimbo. The king in Chess-Nuts is decidedly more malevolent than the one in Mask-A-Raid, and Betty is more tolerant of the Mask-A-Raid king than she is of the Chess-Nuts king. In Mask-A-Raid, she betrays her official mate for a lowborn lover, and in Chess-Nuts, for an enemy royal.

    For the most part, we find this to be a rather tedious cartoon. The animation is crude, the music is disappointing, the chanting is uninspired, and the fight scenes are boring.

This cartoon is available in the following collections:

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Published 4/23/99.