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****Excellent***Good**Fair*Poor : VIDEOCASSETTES

February 24, 1988|TERRY ATKINSON | Compiled by Terry Atkinson

"Betty Boop: Special Collector's Edition, Vol. 1 & 2." Republic. $19.98 each. The Betty Boop cartoons of the early 1930s were so utterly strange one might suspect that creator Max Fleischer and brother/director Dave discovered LSD a few years before Dr. Hofmann. The setting is generally nightmarish, objects transform into characters and vice versa, the music switches from jazz to pop to nursery rhyme with little reason, and the pert protagonist talks like a little girl but dresses like a Parisian prostitute. Often baffling and abrasive, these cartoons continue to fascinate in terms of sound (frequently heard and briefly seen are the jazz bands of Cab Calloway, Louis Armstrong and Don Redman), animation and psychology (the Fleischers' imaginations flooded the frames with surrealism, sexism and racism). Most of the 26 superbly selected black-and-white works on these two tapes have been released by other video companies (apparently they're public-domain material) but Republic's versions--from the original 35-millimter prints--are in the best shape. Information: (213) 306-4040. *** 1/2

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