Red Hot Mamma
was one of Betty Boop's hottest cartoons, released in 1934 shortly before
the Hays Act put an end to such remarkable animated creations.
The cartoon begins with a snowy winter scene, where we find Betty freezing in her bed, wearing only a skimpy nightie, with the windows open and the curtains flying. The cold finally awakens her. She pulls all the windows closed, in the process letting in a couple of chickens who had been roosting on her windowsill. The chickens huddle on a bar in front of her fireplace. Her clock puts gloves on its hands and shivers. Betty piles all the wood and coal into her fireplace, lights the fire, and then settles down to sleep on the rug in front of the fireplace. The temperature in the room mounts until the chickens start cooking and the candles on the mantelpiece droop and melt. An igloo in a picture on Betty's wall melts, and the Eskimo in the picture takes off his fur coat and poses in his underwear. Finally, the fireplace turns into an entrance to Hell.
Betty gets up and enters Hell to the tune of "Did you Ever See a Dream Walking." In this cartoon, Betty is taller and slenderer than usual, and her movements are exceptionally graceful. She is chased by a little flame, which she shoos away and finally spanks. As Betty passes in front of flaming pits, her nightie turns see-through, and we see her silhouette. Even when the nightie is not see-through, the shape of her body is clearly delineated within it. For all practical purposes, she is almost naked throughout this cartoon.
Finally Betty trips and seizes the rope hanging from a couple of horned bells. The bells start ringing and the floor disintegrates under Betty's feet, dropping her down into a lower level. The melody changes to Hell's Bells, and the band (the house band?) performs a superb rendition of this hot jazz number.
Down below, several devils are welcoming incoming souls to Hell as they emerge from a chute labeled "Freshmen." The devils dress the new souls in devil costumes and send them off to the Freshman Hall, which is later set ablaze by Hell's fire department with a dragon fire hose. Betty starts to dance (either rotoscoped or very skillfully animated) and sings:
Hell's bells ringin' in my ears.
It's certainly hot,
The rhythm that swells,
Now somebody's got
A-hold of those bells;
They start to ring,
They start to sing,
And somebody yells,
It must be Hell's bells!
Betty runs and starts dancing with demons and flames. Several flames coalesce into Satan eating a fire-cream cone. Satan turns up the heat and goes after Betty Boop. Soon Betty is surrounded by big demons, but she gives them the cold shoulder, literally, and they freeze solid. Then she gives Satan an icy stare (literally), and freezes him. Soon all Hell freezes over. Betty falls through the ice and wakes up in front of her fireplace at home, to find the fire out, the windows open, and snow blowing in. She runs back to bed and a pile of blankets descends on her to end the cartoon.
in this cartoon is exceptionally well-done. Betty looks beautiful, and
her movements are graceful and well-choreographed. The story and imagery
are surreal and fascinating, the music is excellent, and altogether, this
is one of the best of the Betty Boop cartoons.