The Old Man And The Mountain may not have a strong scary storyline to it, but this Betty Boop cartoon put fear into the hearts of many who saw it.
The cartoon was the third collaboration between the Fleischer Brothers Studio, who produced the Betty Boop shorts, and popular swing band leader Cab Calloway. The previous two cartoons – Minnie The Moocher (1932) and Snow White (1933) – proved to be popular with audiences as well as helping to add momentum to Calloway’s fast rising career. All three shorts showcase Calloway’s distinctive shuffling dancing, which was filmed and then rotoscoped for each cartoon.
As you can see by watching the cartoon below, the titular hermit of this short is a bit of a lecherous old man, leering and lustfully lunging at poor Betty when the two aren’t singing together. Finally, as Betty was making her escape, he manages to pull off her dress, which, in the distinctive Fleischer style, comes to life long enough to slap the Old Man across the face before running to Betty, who is modestly hiding behind a tree in nothing but her underwear.
While fairly innocuous today, such antics proved to be too much for some folks in 1933, who promptly complained to theater owners about the cartoon’s suggestive nature. Theater owners complained to the cartoon’s distributor Paramount Studios, who in turn pressured the Fleischer Brothers to tone things down a bit. By the following year, Betty had transformed into a more conservative character and her cartoons would go without the African American jazz music that was such a prominent feature in the past. Unfortunately, such modifications seem to give the impression that the Fleischers bought into the racist belief that correlated jazz music and being black with raciness and promiscuousness.