Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Halloween: Hell's Bells

Long before Heavy Metal musicians ever thought they were the first people to write a song about Hell there was "Hell's Bells". The song was written, presumably in 1932, by Chicago saxophonist Art Kassel and must have had something of a vogue in the early 30's. The year following it's publication the song was recorded by Sid Peltyn and his Orchestra under the all-purpose (and much used) pseudonym "The New Yorkers". In 1934 the song was used in two cartoons: "Red Hot Mamma" (Betty Boop, Fleischer Studios) and "Hell's Fire" (Willie Whopper, Ub Iwerks Studio). After that it seems to have vanished all together. Can anyone tell me if the song appears in any other film?

video
The song as recorded by Sid Peltyn and his Orchestra (AKA "The New Yorkers")



video
The song as it appeared in the 1934 film "Hell's Fire". Sadly, the 35 elements for this film are missing (at least for the moment) and both 16mm prints (one B&W and the other color) are, until better turns up, incomplete - therefore the two are cobbled together to form a complete clip. Go here to see the full film. This particular version of "Hell's Bells" also incorporates the song "How Dry I Am".




video

Lastly, the song as it appeared (in lyrically truncated form)  in the classic Betty Boop cartoon "Red Hot Mamma".

11 comments:

Thad said...

32 seconds into the Hell's Fire clip may be one of the funniest pieces of animation of all time... He does a typical depression-era happy-go-lucky jig... in HELL.

J.V. (AKA "White Pongo") said...

I also like how quickly he becomes the devil's stooge. That kid really knew how to get places!

Thad said...

I just bought my own film print of the B/W 'Vulcan Entertains' version, so I can make an even better hybrid sometime in the future.

J.V. (AKA "White Pongo") said...

Cool!

Belle Dee said...

I was thinking that Disney Silly Symphony "Hell's Bells" had the song "Hell's Bells" in it, but when I went back & watched it, I see I was wrong. I wonder how I could have made such a mistake.

J.V. (AKA "White Pongo") said...

Nope. Cool 'Devil & Daniel Webster ref BTW!

Belle Dee said...

Thanks!

pwlsax said...

Hell's Bells also got recorded by Hal Kemp and by Art Kassel himself, both in 1932. These are very rare, because records just weren't selling.

J.V. (AKA "White Pongo") said...

Good info - Thanks!

Dick Brain said...

Thanks ever so. I've long loved these cartoons and wanted to find out more about who recorded "hell's Bells" The Rock'n'troll versions make research lugubrious. Congratulations also on your reconstruction of the Iwerk's masterpiece - much more extensive than available on DVD. But the Fleischers were the best at setting animation to music, Disney a pale imitator.

J.V. (AKA "White Pongo") said...

I agree. Fleischers was the best studio of the 30's. Iwerks made some great films but couldn't stay in business. Mintz started out great but made the mistake of increasing demands while shrinking budgets. All three employed Fleischer animators. Disney didn't really come into it's own until Snow White although there were some good films previous (excluding those of Iwerks which I consider part of the Iwerks canon) but those are fairly few and far between. Lantz and Terry, of course, didn't hit their stride until the 40's. Same, by & large, Warner Brothers.