1. For me, this works on multiple levels.

    The simple joke is just that the man in the mirror had a physical manifestation which broke the mirror.

    Next, I see an implication that too-strong perfume is not associated with the fairest of people.

    Finally, the woman is obviously not fair. Thus the sneeze is a way of not having to answer the question.

    As a footnote, despite the prevalence of the line in the first panel, in the movie the question was, “Magic mirror on the wall, who is the fairest one of all?”

  2. Once upon a time, Blanche would have been able to break that mirror just with her appearance, without resorting to olfactory enhancement.
    P.S. Arthur – The “original” line (in the book) is “Spieglein, Spieglein an der Wand, wer ist die Schönste im ganzen Land?” (literally: “Little mirror, little mirror on the wall, who is the most beautiful in the whole country?”, but that doesn’t rhyme). Discussing the “proper” wording in English is about aa productive as making Talmud scholars base their arguments on the King James version of the Bible.

  3. The cartoon starts out with the well-known trope of a beauty-coveting woman wanting validation from her talking mirror…

    …and ends up with a broken mirror (that suggests the superstition of seven years of bad luck).

    It’s not exactly the way a vain woman wants her query to turn out.

    The sneeze in the middle panel confuses things a bit. Why is it there, exactly? In short, it’s there to produce the gag in the last panel, but it’s so abrupt, it’s no wonder this is a CIDU.

  4. Ah, J-L’s comment suggests another possibility: There’s the trope of a mirror breaking when an ugly person looks at it. That’s what happened. But the mirror (for some reason) wants to give her a different plausible reason for the breaking, hence the sneeze and explanation.

  5. Actually in the movie the quote is “Magic mirror in my hand, who’s the fairest in the land?”

    And later, “Am I the fairest in the place?” “If I were you I’d hide my face!”

    I’m talking about the 1933 Betty Boop cartoon of course. https://youtu.be/vgOCpX46Aks

  6. Bill, opium and marijuana were both quite popular back then. Cab Calloway, the singer in the cartoon, recorded the song “Minnie the Moocher” about a woman who “kicked the gong around”, i.e., smoked opium.

  7. @ MiB – Cocaine was also well-known: it shows up in a surprising number of Agatha Christie’s “Poirot” mysteries.

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