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‘Bimbo’s Initiation’ – Saturday Morning Cartoon

The pioneering Fleischer animation studios are widely, and deservedly, celebrated for bringing the world some of the best cartoons of the early movie era.

They were responsible for the great and influential Popeye and Superman cartoons, as well as the Betty Boop ones that helped sustain the studio during the ’30s. But perhaps their greatest and now mostly forgotten achievement to animation is introducing Bimbo to moviegoers.

Bimbo was a dog who starred in a series of Fleischer shorts in the 1930s. In fact, he was the star of many of the greatest cartoons of the era until his girlfriend, Betty Boop, knocked him down to supporting status.

Yes, Betty Boop dated a dog.

But it ain’t no big thing. She makes a couple of appearances in ’Bimbo’s Initiation,’ but the star here is clearly the talking dog, who falls down a manhole and stumbles into a secret group that puts him through a series of grueling tests to become a member (even though when he’s repeatedly asked if he wants to join, he says no).

The initiations are ones that would put most frat houses to shame, with knives, axes and a whole bunch of downward-spiraling death stairs leading Bimbo to lower levels of impending doom. We won’t give away the twist ending, which involves Betty Boop, a sexy dance and a turn toward the surreal (like it wasn’t already heading in that direction).

It’s one of the darkest cartoons of the era — scary, fatalistic and downright nightmarish at times. But it’s also one of the best the genre has ever offered. You can watch the great ‘Bimbo’s Initiation’ above.

Next Cartoon: 'The Mechanical Monsters'

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