Minnie the Moocher.

MAX FLEISCHER PRESENTS Minnie the Moocher (1932), featuring Betty Boop and Bimbo, with Cab Calloway and his Orchestra.

Walt Disney this is not. Max Fleischer, born in Poland and raised in New York City, was generally uninterested in the pastoral aesthetic of round-eared, anthropomorphic mice schoonering paddleboats down the countryside. Made only four years after Steamboat Willie, Fleischer’s work contained references to immigration (the parents in the beginning of the cartoon), drug use (Calloway’s sung reference to Smoky the Cokie), alcoholism (the skeletons drinking tainted Prohibition-era hooch, then wilting and dying), and, of course, sexuality (Betty the flapper, herself).

Check out the Walrus Ghost in the cave – in actuality, a second appearance by Cab Calloway, whose dance was captured on film and then traced over by the animators. The process, called Rotoscoping, was invented by Fleischer.

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