Heptune presents:

Betty Boop in S.O.S. (Swim Or Sink)

by Brenna and Megaera Lorenz
    This 1932 Talkartoon, featuring Betty Boop with Bimbo and Koko, was Betty Boop's eighteenth cartoon appearance. During the credits, we hear Morse code and an upbeat verse of "What Shall We Do With a Drunken Sailor?"

What shall we do with a drunken sailor?
What shall we do with a drunken sailor?
What shall we do with a drunken sailor?
Earlye in the morning?

Ai-yai and up she rises,
Ai-yai and up she rises,
Ai-yai and up she rises,
Earlye in the morning!

    The cartoon begins with a storm at sea, pounding on a ship full of desperate animals. A hippo officer faces a crowd in front of a life boat and shouts, "Women and children first!" Then he puts on a wig and jumps in. After a rather protracted series of sinking ship gags, the ship finally goes down for the last time.
    The next scene shows us a calm sea with Betty Boop, Bimbo and Koko adrift on a bit of wreckage. Bimbo and Koko are asleep, snoring noisily and providing a syncopated beat to the music, while Betty stands on the edge of the raft looking worried. She sings:

Oh, my dear! Me, oh, my!
I'm so scared, I'm afraid I'll die!
Oh, Mama, what can we do?

I can't dive, I can't swim,
I don't know how to do anythin',
Oh, Mama, vat can ve do?  [The line in italics is sung by a big-nosed fish in a hat who jumps up onto the raft.]

I'm the only shipwrecked female
And I'm lonesome, too,
I'm so scared, oh, I can't stand it,
Must be something we can do!

It's getting late; I can't wait,
Why, oh, why do you hesitate?
Oh, Mama, what shall we do?

    During this performance, Betty struggles to keep her dress from flying up, and she applies make-up as she bemoans her fate.
    Meanwhile, Koko and Bimbo have awakened and spied a ship, which Koko hails by sticking a pole down the back of his pants and hoisting up his underwear as a flag. The ship turns out to be a pirate ship. It extrudes a mouth and engulfs them, then spits out their raft.
    The pirates are busy playing jacks. Their chant is:

Pepper, salt, mustard, cider,
We're so tough we'd crush a spider.

    The crudely animated pirates chase their captives around a bit, and finally chain up Koko and Bimbo down below. We see one of the Fleischers' favorite gags: when the anchor is pulled out of the water, it shakes itself off like a dog and goes into a doghouse. Betty is carried off to the pirates' meeting hall, where they try to decide what to do with her; they sing:

What shall we do with a dainty damsel? (To the tune of What Shall We Do With a Drunken Sailor)

    Bimbo and Koko escape easily when Bimbo's chain turns out to be a paper chain, and the door to their cell a simple folding door. After a lot of chasing around, the pirates are dumped overboard, where they are swallowed by a whale. The cartoon ends with an x-ray shot of the whale, showing the pirates still partying within the whale's stomach.

    The best part of this cartoon is Betty Boop's performance on the raft, where she is portrayed as a spoiled, helpless little society girl.

This cartoon is available in the following collection:

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Published 4/23/99.