Classic Cartoons Collector's Set, Vol. 1 [2 Discs] [DVD]
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Overview

Synopsis

You're Not Built That Way
The Bulleteers
The city of Metropolis is under siege by a nefarious group of terrorists that go by the moniker of the Bulleteers (because of their innovative Bulletcar). They've already struck some of the city's famous landmarks and the utility stations that are part of its lifeblood. Now they are making their demands known: Metropolis has 48 hours to hand over the city Treasury. If the city refuses, they will bring ruin upon Metropolis. The Mayor says that their demands are totally unreasonable and absolutely refuses to comply, prompting the terrorists to launch their attack (targeting the Daily Planet for special abuse). This prompts Lois Lane to take off after them, hoping for a scoop, and it prompts Superman to engage them in a final battle, during which he succeeds in destroying the mighty Bulletcar, capturing all of the Bulleteers and saving (once again) both Lois and the entire city of Metropolis. ~ Craig Butler, Rovi

Tarts and Flowers
Making Friends
Max Fleischer's "stereoscopic" process is shown to good advantage in this cartoon, wherein Betty Boop and her dog Pudge are vacationing in a mountain cabin. Sensing that Pudgy feels lonesome, Betty offers him some advice by singing "Go Out and Make Friends with the World". Using his wits and resources, the little pooch manages to befrien a squirrel, a bear cub, a beaver, a frog and several other woodland creatures--then invites them to an impromptu party at Betty's cabin, where havoc and destruction reign supreme. ~ Hal Erickson, Rovi

Aladdin and His Wonderful Lamp
The third and last of the two-reeler Popeye cartoons, Aladdin and His Wonderful Lamp starts out with a framing device. Olive Oyl is working at Surprise Pictures as a script girl, and she decides that remaking the story of Aladdin as a vehicle for her beloved Popeye would be a great idea. As she begins contemplating this scenario, we see Aladdin (Popeye), a poor boy who pines for the beautiful Princess (Olive, of course). A wicked Wazzir comes to Aladdin and tricks him into searching for a magical lamp that is deep inside a mysterious cave. The Wazzir intends to use the power of the lamp to get the Princess for himself, but he does not get that chance after Aladdin becomes trapped in the cave. Striking the lamp to light a match, Aladdin inadvertently summons a Genie who must do his bidding. With the Genie's help, Aladdin becomes a prince and woos the Princess, but the Wazzir becomes wise to the boy's true identity and plots his ruin. Fortunately, Aladdin uses the really magical power of spinach to ultimately defeat his enemy and live happily ever after with the Princess -- which is not the fate of Olive herself, who awakens from her reverie to find herself surrounded with scripts. ~ Craig Butler, Rovi

No! No! A Thousand Times No!!
Nearlyweds
When both Popeye and Bluto propose to Olive, she uses the highly scientific eenie-meanie-minie-moe" method to choose her future husband. Popeye wins, whereup Bluto retires gracefully from the scene--or does he. As Popeye prepares for his wedding, he is beset by some highly suspicious catastrophe, ranging from finding his shoes nailed to the floor to being stuck in a tub full of concrete. Will he make it to Olive's house in time for the wedding, or will Bluto emerge triumphant? Well...it all depends on the meaning of "triumphant." ~ Hal Erickson, Rovi

Slick Sleuths
A Language All My Own
After performing this cartoon's title song before a packed audience, popular singer Betty Boop climbs into her private airplane and embarks upon a journey to Japan (getting directions from the Statue of Liberty along the way). Upon her arrival, Betty is greeted by cheering throngs of Japanese citizens who have festooned the city with posters bearing her name. During her subsequent stage performance, Betty emerges from a paper lantern and, backed by a chorus of doll-like geishas, offers a reprise of "A Language of All My Own" in Japanese. (One cannot imagine this delightful cartoon being made a few years later, at the height of WW2). ~ Hal Erickson, Rovi

Cookin' With Gags
Popeye, Olive and Bluto go on a picnic, with Bluto taking full advantage of the fact that this is April Fool's Day. Playing several rather sadistic practical jokes on Popeye, Bluto manages to get away with it by shouting "April Fool." Olive chides Popeye for not having a sense of humor, but when she is the victim of one of Bluto's gags she isn't exactly laughing--and worst of all, she blames Popeye for the prank. Unable to rely on his can of spinach (Bluto has even managed to sabotage that!), Popeye gets his revenge on Bluto in a unique and hilarious fashion. ~ Hal Erickson, Rovi

Insect to Injury
No sooner has he put the finishing touches on his new, self-constructed house than Popeye is invaded by a vast and terrifying army of termites. In typical cartoon fashion, the little pests eat everything made of wood in their path, and for a while it looks like they're unstoppable. Clearly, spinach is called for--and that's what Popeye uses to outwit the now-bloated termites with an even newer house that can't be eaten, no way, no how. ~ Hal Erickson, Rovi

Secret Agent
En route to a humdrum assignment, reporter Clark Kent is caught in the crossfire between Nazi agents and a beautiful blonde American counterspy. The girl has a cache of valuable documents in her possession, and the Nazis are determined to prevent her from delivering the papers to Washington. Though captured by the enemy spies, Clark manages to burst full-force into his true identity as Superman, racing to the female agent's rescue as she faces certain death on a sabotaged bridge. Bud Collyer does not provide the voices of Clark Kent and Superman in this episode, which may explain why the "two" characters only have one line of dialogue between them (Some historian believe that this line was delivered by Sam Parker, who'd voiced the title role in Fleischer's Gulliver's Travels). ~ Hal Erickson, Rovi

Fright to the Finish
In this remake of the 1939 "Popeye" cartoon Ghosks is the Bunk, Olive Oyl insists upon reading ghost stories to Popeye and Bluto when they visit her house on Halloween. In an elaborate scheme to force Popeye out of the house, Bluto pretends to go home, only to return armed with fake skeletons, ghosts and headless men. Worse still, Olive is convinced that Popeye is responsible for all these spooky pranks, and kicks him out of the house. But Popeye has the last laugh on Bluto with the help of some extremely effective vanishing cream. ~ Hal Erickson, Rovi

A Haul in One
In this remake of the 1936 "Popeye" cartoon Let's Get Movin', Popeye and Bluto are partners in a hauling business--and good pals to boot. But friendship flies out the window when our two heroes are hired to move Olive Oyl's furniture out of her apartment. What should be a simple job turns into a fierce competition, with Bluto using various and sundry chairs, lamps, couches and kitchenware to put Popeye out of the way. A grand piano in the principal prop in the closing gag of this cartoon, which boats some impressive "minimalist" background art. ~ Hal Erickson, Rovi

Showdown
Can it be true that Superman has become an outlaw? Actually, it's a petty thief named Severn, who wears a Superman costume while committing various robberies, but the police don't know that. Reporters Lois Lane and (especially!) Clark Kent are anxious to prove Superman's innocence, but instead they're assigned to cover the opening night at the Metropolis Opera House. As luck would have it, the phony Superman picks this very moment to steal jewelry from the various operagoers--prompting Clark to discard his rented tuxedo, don cape and tights as the REAL Superman, and settle accounts with his larcenous lookalike. ~ Hal Erickson, Rovi

A Song a Day
A Date to Skate
Throwing caution to the winds, Popeye takes it upon himself to teach Olive Oyl how to roller-skate. Unfortunately, Olive proves to be a most inapt pupil, and before long she finds herself careening helplessly throughout the city, just barely missing the cars and pedestrians that whizz by her at every turn. Worst of all, it looks like Popeye won't be able to skate to her rescue--he's inadvertently left his spinach back at home. Chock full of brilliant "chase and perspective" gags, A Date to Skate is one of the last of the Fleischer "Popeye" cartoons produced in New York before the studio relocated to Miami. It also marks the final Fleischer appearance of Mae Questel as the voice of Olive Oyl. ~ Hal Erickson, Rovi

Mechanical Monsters
The Mechanical Monsters is the second in the famous Fleischer series of Superman cartoons and contains two notable "premieres" -- the first time Superman uses his x-ray vision and the first time Clark Kent uses a phone booth to change into Superman. In this short, Metropolis is the scene of a series of strange crimes. Giant robots, under the control of the Mad Scientist that created them, are robbing establishments of money and jewels. Naturally, the Daily Planet's top reporters, Clark Kent and Lois Lane, are after the story behind these robberies and the mechanical monsters that are perpetrating them. They arrive at the scene of a robbery in progress at a jewelry store; trying to intervene, Lois somehow gets trapped inside one of the robots. Kent makes the switch to the mighty Superman and follows the robots as they make their way back to the scientist's lair, but he gets waylaid by some pesky power lines. While he deals with this distraction, the Mad Scientist discovers Lois, ties her up and plans to get rid of her by pouring a cauldron of molten steel on top of her. Superman arrives with barely a second to spare, rescues the intrepid girl reporter, makes mincemeat of the robots and brings the Mad Scientist to justice. ~ Craig Butler, Rovi

Japoteurs
The first of the Superman cartoons filmed under the aegis of Famous Studios, Japoteurs begins with a Daily Planet headline letting the audience know that the U.S. has developed the world's largest bomber plane and that it will soon be making a test flight. The paper's top reporters, Clark Kent and Lois Lane, are allowed to take a tour of the plane prior to its flight, and see that, in addition to its other features, it can also serve as an airstrip for launching smaller planes. Lois stows away after the tour is over, but she's not alone -- a number of Japanese spies have also stolen aboard, and they hi-jack the ship soon after it takes off. The spies plan to fly the plane to Tokyo, but Lois manages to radio for help, and Superman flies to the rescue. Upon his arrival, he learns that Lois has captured and the spies threaten to release her from the bomb bay doors if Superman doesn't leave. He obeys, but the spy releases Lois anyway, but Superman saves her. Beaten, the agents have set the controls so that the bomber will crash into Metropolis, but Superman uses his massive strength to catch the plane just in time. ~ Craig Butler, Rovi

Electric Earthquake
As Electronic Earthquake opens, the viewer sees a strange cable that flows into the harbor near Metropolis. The cable slinks along the harbor to the underwater lair of a brilliant Native American scientist. The scientist visits the Daily Planet, where he demands that Metropolis be returned to his people, who settled there long ago. Editor Perry White refuses to print the scientist's demand, at which point the scientist tells him that he will destroy the city if his demand is not met. He returns to his secret lab, followed by Lois Lane, who smells a good story. Unfortunately, Lois is discovered and captured, and the scientist proceeds with his plan. Utilizing his cable, he sends enormous surges of electricity under the ground, triggering a terrific earthquake. Superman finds the source of the earthquake and breaks the main cable, then begins dismantling various other cables from the lab. This unfortunately causes the lab to start flooding. Superman saves Lois in the nick of time, and succeeds in capturing the evil scientist as well. ~ Craig Butler, Rovi

The Scared Crows
The Underground World
The offices of the Daily Planet are visited by a man named Henderson. He tells the assembled that he is an explorer, as is his father, who has been missing for some time. Henderson wants to launch an expedition into the deep, mysterious caverns that his father was exploring when he disappeared, and he wants the Planet to finance it. Reporters Lois Lane and Clark Kent join the adventurer, with Lois to travel immediately with him down a river into the caverns, and Clark to join them via a separate boat. Lois and Henderson find land and disembark, but their boat slips away and crashes into a cavern wall, where it explodes. They are then captured by some fierce creatures, half-bird, half-man, who plan to sacrifice them by throwing them into a pit of fire. Clark, who had heard the earlier explosion, discovers what is going on and switches to his alter ego, Superman. Superman quickly mops up the birdmen, saves Lois and Henderson, and seals up the caverns leading to the birdmen's land. At the end of the film, editor Perry White burns Lois and Clark's story, saving he can't print it because it is too unbelievable. ~ Craig Butler, Rovi

My Friend the Monkey
An unusually tall and slender Betty Boop is enchanted by an organ grinder's monkey--so much so that she invites the "jitter-monk" into her home. Betty's dog Pudgy seemingly finds a kindred spirit in the mischievous simian, so Betty briefly steps out of her apartment and heads downstairs, intending to purchase the animal from its owner. But in her absence, the monk shows his true nature by eating all the food in the house and leading the flustered Pudgy on a not-so-merry (and VERY destructive) chase. ~ Hal Erickson, Rovi

A Little Soap and Water
Betty Boop wants to give her pet dog Pudgy a bath. Pudgy doesn't want to take a bath. There! That's the entire plot of this cartoon, which largely consists of a wild chase through Betty's house, punctuated by Pudgy's contrary behavior whenever he's plunked into a tub of soapy, bubbly water. But Betty prevails, and Pudgy ends up clean as a whistle--for about twenty seconds. Song: "A Little Soap,a Little Water and a Song". ~ Hal Erickson, Rovi

Pudgy Picks a Fight
Betty Boop is thrilled when her new fox fur arrives in the mail. However, her pet dog Pudgy is disgusted: he not only thinks that the fur (with head intact) is still alive, but he is convinced that he has lost Betty's affections. The angry pooch tries to pick a fight with the "fox", and of course he emerges the victor--only to suffers the pangs of conscience when he is convinced that he has killed his rival. Now Pudgy's imagination runs amok, complete with film noir-style hallucinations that rival anything created by Alfred Hitchcock or Fritz Lang. ~ Hal Erickson, Rovi

Grampy's Indoor Outing
The "Colossal Carnival" comes to town, and Betty Boop is all set to take little Junior to the big show. Alas, a thunderstorm forces the pair back indoors, whereupon Junior bursts into tears. Fortunately, Betty's resourceful neighbor Professor Grampy puts on his thinking cap and figures out a way to stage an elaborate indoor carnival. Using such household items as a washing machine, a seltzer, bottle, a fan and a kitchen table, Grampy comes up with all sorts of swell rides and sideshow attractions. But the best is reserved for last, as Grampy concocts a way to convert a high-rise apartment into a roller coaster (with the help of Max Fleischer's patented "stereoscopic" process). Song: "We'll Have a Bushel of Fun". ~ Hal Erickson, Rovi

Poor Cinderella
Taking the Blame
Robin Hood Makes Good
This collection of three animated adventures with Robin Hood include "Robin Hood Makes Good," "Foney Fables" and "The Old Shell Game." ~ Julie Clark, Rovi

The Candid Candidate
The inimitable Grampy runs for Mayor, with Betty Boop singing his praises. Narrowing winning the election by one vote (out of 2,000,005!), Grampy arrives at City Hall, only to be confronted by angry constituents with a list of rhyming grievances. Facing the possibility of being impeached before he can even take the oath of office, Grampy dons his thinking cap and inventively solves such problems as a "bridge to nowhere" and a dilapidated housing development--with time left over to install liquor bars in all the drinking fountains and to combinine the subway and elevator systems. And in true pro-environmental fashion, he even comes up with a solution for the foul weather plaguing his city. ~ Hal Erickson, Rovi

Jungle Drums
A military plane carrying American Army lieutenant Fleming and reporter Lois Lane crashes in the jungles of darkest Africa. Before he dies, Fleming entrusts a packet valuable documents to Lois, warning her that the papers must not fall into enemy hands. Unfortunately, Lois is promptly captured by a tribe of hostile natives, led by a "white god" who is actually a Nazi agent in disguise. Rushing to Lois' rescue, Superman is faced with the triple dilemma of recovering the documents, destroying a convoy of Nazi submarines and preventing the plucky girl reporter from being burned at the stake. Don't miss the closing scene with a disgruntled Hitler listening to a robust rendition of Frank Loesser's "Praise the Lord and Pass the Ammunition". ~ Hal Erickson, Rovi

Judge For a Day
After being annoyed by a variety of "typical" urban pests, Betty arrives at the local courthouse, where she works as clerk. Dreaming that she has been appointed Judge for a Day, Betty decides to get her revenge against the pests who've been harrassing her all morning, inviting the public to "have a laugh" at the troublemakers' punishment. If you think "Judge Judy" is tough, wait till you see the Torquemada-like tortures imposed by "Judge Betty" on such miscreants as back-slappers, messy gum-chewers, obnoxious cigar smokers, careless drivers, and even people who do bad celebrity imitations! Songs include: "If I Were Judge for a Day" and "SING (It's Good for Ya". ~ Hal Erickson, Rovi

Gold Rush Daze
Betty Boop's Ker-Choo
Bimbo and Koko are among the contestants in a big auto race, where all the funny animals in Fleischer-land are in attendance (the "humanized" cars await in stalls like horses, and the judge's panel consists of three elderly blind men). The favorite in the race is Betty Boop, but she's late again, and her Yiddish-accented car has no idea where she is. When Betty finally shows up, she explains in song that her tardiness is due to a "cold in my 'doze'". Once the race begins, it's a real thriller-spiller, with even the spectators getting into the act--and catching Betty's cold in the process ("Ah, ah, CHOO!)" ~ Hal Erickson, Rovi

Have You Got Any Castles?
I Never Changes My Altitude
We're at the busy Hott-Air Airport, where Olive Oyl has closed down her lunch counter and deserted her sweetheart Popeye in favor of dashing aviator Bluto. Before long, however, Olive has become disillusioned by her arrogant new boyfriend, who callously tosses her from his plane. As Olive dangles precariously from a weathervane, Popeye takes to the air to settle accounts with Bluto--but it takes a spinach-fueled duck to help him finish the job. I Never Changes My Altitude was later excerpted in the 1940 "cheater" Doing Impossikible Stunts. ~ Hal Erickson, Rovi

Westward Whoa
Ding Dong Doggie
Betty Boop's dog Pudgy idolizes the cocky dalmatian at the local firehouse, dreaming of becoming a "fire-dog" himsel. Imagine Pudgy's delight when the dalmatian offers to give him a few firefighting tips. Alas, Betty won't let Pudge leave the house, so our canine hero sneaks out and hitches a route on a fire engine en route to a huge conflagration at a general store (which fortunately was already advertising a "Fire Sale"). But things don't quite work out as planned, and before long Pudgy is being harrassed and humiliated by those pesky little humanized flames that exist only in cartoons. The background music includes "Brotherly Love", from the "Popeye" cartoon of the same name. ~ Hal Erickson, Rovi

The Story of King Midas
I Don't Scare
Olive Oyl is extremely superstitious, a fact that Bluto intends to use to his full advantage to get rid of Popeye so he'll have Olive all to himself. Convincing Miss Oyl that today is Friday the Thirteenth, Bluto arranges all manner of "accidents", making Popeye look like a fool as he tries to convince Olive that superstitions are the bunk. But the Sailor Man manages to turn the tables and exacts a plot-appropriate revenge on the scheming Bluto. ~ Hal Erickson, Rovi

Pest Pupil
Land of the Lost Jewels
Rhythm on the Reservation
The Paneless Window Washer
One of the best of the "high and dizzy" Popeye cartoons, this one begins as professional window-washer Bluto creates some new business for himself by spraying mud on 20-story office building. But when Bluto offers to clean Olive Oyl's windows, she informs him that her boyfriend Popeye is already handling that job. The ensuing soap-and-water rivalry between Popeye and Bluto inevitably degenerates into violence--Bluto actually believes that he can win Olive over by choking her!--with Popeye ultimately emerging the victor thanks to his ever-present can of spinach. The brilliance of the height-and-perspective gags in "The Paneless Window Washer" is matched by the innovative "extreme" poses assumed by the main characters, and by the marvelous background art of Fleischer studios stalwart Anton Loeb. ~ Hal Erickson, Rovi

Betty Boop's Crazy Inventions
Assisted by ticket-taker Bimbo the Dog and product-demonstrator Koko the Clown, Betty Boop stages a "Big Invention Show." Highlights of the program include a pig-powerd pipe organ, a Rube Goldberg-style spot remover, a cigarette snuffer, a soup silencer, a sweet-corn regulator, and an egg-frying device, replete with optional hen and rooster. Betty herself demontrates a most unusual voice recorder with a performance of "Keep a Little Song Handy." The show's Number One attraction, a VERY powerful self-threading sewing machine, knits up the proceedings quite nicely. ~ Hal Erickson, Rovi

We Did It
Eleventh Hour
The year is 1942, America is at war with Japan, and American reporters Clark Kent and Lois Lane are under house arrest in a Yokohama hotel. Unbeknownst to Lois, Clark manages to elude his captors every night at 11 PM--at which time he assumes his true identity as Superman in order to commit various acts of sabotage against the enemy. Certain that the Americans are responsible for this michief, the Japanese High Command sentences Lois to death by firing squad if another ship or munitions plant is destroyed--and now Superman must figure out how to rescue Lois while simulatenously accomplishing his deadly mission. ~ Hal Erickson, Rovi

Bride and Gloom
In a blissful mist, Olive Oyl dreams about her upcoming marriage to Popeye the Sailor. She imagines giving birth to two pugnacious youngsters (apparently born with diapers already in place!), both of whom are dead ringers for their dear old dad. But the dream turns into a nightmare as the two mini-Popeyes lay waste to their parents' house, shooting dishes as they pop from the toaster, using piano wires for a bow and arrow, etc. When Olive tries to lay down the law, the kids mount an offensive against her. Needless to say, when Popeye arrives the next morning all dressed for the wedding, he's in for quite a surprise. Bride and Gloom is a remake of the 1940 "Popeye" cartoon Wimmin is a Myskery. ~ Hal Erickson, Rovi

Floor Flusher
In this reworking of the 1938 "Popeye" cartoon Plumbing is a 'Pipe', Olive Oyl tries to fix her leaky kitchen faucet, only to make things worse with a veritable deluge. Arriving on the scene in the nick of time, Popeye and Bluto vie for the honor of literally bailing Olive out. When Popeye succeeds in fixing the leak, a jealous Bluto secretly sabotages all the water pipes in Olive's house--all but wrecking the place in the process. It's amazing how many "water" gags can be stuffed into 6 minutes of screen time. Oh, and don't miss Bluto's quickie impersonation of Jackie Gleason. ~ Hal Erickson, Rovi

Customers Wanted
Popeye and Bluto are rival penny-arcade owners who knock themselves (and each other) out trying to attract patrons. Alas, their only customer for the evening is that champion moocher Wimpy, who borrows several pennies (which he will gladly repay Tuesday) pennies so he can enjoy the attractions in the boys' manually operated flip-picture machines. Not surprisingly, these mini-movies consist of excerpts from previous "Popeye the Sailor" cartoons, in this case "Let's Get Movin'" and "The Twisker Pitcher". This entertaining "cheater" was remade in 1954 asPenny Antics. ~ Hal Erickson, Rovi

Leprechaun's Gold
The Magnetic Telescope
An excited astronomer presents to the world his new creation, a magnetic telescope that exerts tremendous pull upon objects in outer space. Daily Planet reporters Lois Lane and Clark Kent, along with Planet editor Perry White are present at the initial presentation, and witness how the telescope succeeds in capturing a meteor and altering its path. Unfortunately, the telescope cannot adequately control the meteor, and fragments plummet down upon the city of Metropolis. The astronomer is forbidden to continue his experiments, for fear that greater destruction could come, but the stubborn scientist refuses to listen and tries to next capture a passing comet. The police try to thwart his efforts by disrupting the telescope's power supply, but it is too late -- the comet is now on a collision course with Earth. While Lois calls for help, Clark slips away and changes into Superman. The comet is too powerful for even the Man of Steel to send back into space on his own, but by welding together the telescope's power source and reversing its polarity, Superman is able to force the comet back into space and save the day once again. ~ Craig Butler, Rovi

Popeye the Sailor Meets Sinbad the Sailor
The first Popeye cartoon produced in color, Popeye the Sailor Meets Sindbad the Sailor was also the longest Fleischer production to date, and the first to be nominated for an Academy Award. In this colorful tale, Bluto plays the legendary Sindbad, introduced as the toughest and most remarkable sailor around. He lives on an island that floats on the back of a whale and that is populated by ferocious lions, deadly serpents, a two-headed giant, fiery dragons and an enormous bird, the Roc. Popeye, his pal Wimpy and the "irresistible damsel" Olive Oyl appear in the ocean near Sindbad's island. Stricken with desire for Olive, Sindbad sends the Roc to wreck Popeye's ship and to abduct the delectable damsel. Popeye, singlehandedly carrying Wimpy to safety, swims after the bird and his beloved. Once on the island, Popeye must battle with the various dangerous denizens before going one-to-one with Sindbad and proving -- with the help of a little spinach -- that no evil-doing sailor like Sindbad can get the better of him. ~ Craig Butler, Rovi

The Crystal Brawl
Temporarily putting Popeye out of the way, Bluto escorts Olive to the county fair. Determined to get even, Popeye rushes to the fair and disguises himself as a fortune teller. When Olive insists upon finding out what's in her future, the ersatz soothsayer peers into his crystal ball and reveals that Bluto's intentions toward Olive are dishonorable, via excerpts from the earlier "Popeye" cartoons Alpine for You, Quick on the Vigor and Abusement Park (you guessed it: The Crystal Brawl is another cost-cutting "cheater"). ~ Hal Erickson, Rovi

Me Musical Nephews
On furlough from WW2, Popeye hopes to get some rest and relaxation at home, but his four nephews insist upon keeping him awake with a musical concert. Finally managing to bundle his nephews off to bed, Popeye settles down for a good night's sleep. Meanwhile, the four bored nephews discover that various items in their bedroom can be converted into musical instruments--and the result is a loud, swinging midnight jam session, much to Uncle Popeye's dismay. This exquisitely timed and paced black-and-white "Popeye" cartoon was later remade in color, scene for scene, as Riot in Rhythm (1950). ~ Hal Erickson, Rovi

Goofy Goofy Gander
Billion Dollar Limited
The third in series of classic Fleischer Superman cartoons, Billion Dollar Limited starts with heavily armed guards keeping watch as a billion dollars of gold is loaded onto a train, to be taken to the mint. Clark Kent is also at the station, bidding farewell to fellow reporter Lois Lane, who has won the prize of accompanying the train to its destination and writing a story about the trip. As Kent leaves, he is almost swideswiped by a strange looking car. Inside the car is a gang of masked thugs, intent on getting that gold for themselves. In their technologically advanced car, they are capable of catching up with the train, and several sneak on board. They quickly turn loose the car that contains most of the guards, then climb over the train cars to the engine and seek to gain control of it. Lois, hearing noises, travels to the engine, just after the engineer and his assailant fall from the car. Lois grabs a machine gun left behind by one of the crooks and opens fire on the still-pursuing car, then tries to control the train, with little success. Kent, reading over the wire about the danger to the train, changes into Superman and flies off to the rescue. He saves the train from being diverted into a carload of TNT and rescues it as it falls off of a bridge dynamited by the gangsters. Although he almost succumbs to a tremendous load of tear gas, he finds the strength to overcome the villains and deliver the train to its final destination. ~ Craig Butler, Rovi

Terror on the Midway
The last of the Superman cartoons produced by the actual Fleischer studios, Terror on the Midway opens as reporter Clark Kent drops his friendly rival Lois Lane off at the circus. On assignment, Lois heads into the big top, ready to enjoy her work and relax. Unfortunately, a mischievous monkey has managed to unlock the cage that holds a ferocious gorilla. The gorilla makes its way into the big top, where it begins terrorizing the crowd and the performers. Although its handlers are quick on the scene, it overpowers them and continues wreaking havoc, forcing the audience to flee. Lois, seeing a little girl trapped, tries to rescue her, but ends up focusing the rampaging ape's attention on them both. Fortunately, Clark has heard about the melee, and changes to Superman. After subduing some other animals that have escaped in the fracas, he is attracted by Lois's scream. She has climbed a pole to escape the ape, but he is still advancing toward her, even as a fire rages around them. Superman rescues her just as the pole is falling, and subdues the ape into the bargain. ~ Craig Butler, Rovi

Volcano
There are no volcanoes near the great city of Metropolis, but when word comes that a long-dormant volcano in the South Pacific is headed for a cataclysmic eruption, Daily Planet editor Perry White quickly dispatches ace reporters Lois Lane and Clark Kent to cover the big event. White hopes that the two rivals can put aside their differences and work in tandem, but Lois is not about to give away her chance at a solo byline on a story as big as this. She slyly purloins Clark's press pass. While he goes through the red tape of acquiring another, she takes off for where the action is. And there's a lot of action, as the volcano has entered into its full-strength convulsions. Lois finds herself in mortal danger, trapped aboard an overhead tram, the cables of which are breaking. Meanwhile, Clark has seen that the volcano has blown its top and changes into Superman. The Man of Steel uses his incredible strength and ingenuity to force the lava flow into the sea and away from populated areas, then manages to save Lois and the cable car in the nick of time. ~ Craig Butler, Rovi

Little Nobody
While playing in his backyard, Betty Boop's dog Pudgy meets a snooty, pampered female dog owned by wealthy next door neighbor Mrs. Fitz-Ritzy. When Pudgy tries to make friends with the lovely canine, he is summarily booted off of Mrs. Fitz-Ritzy's property--and worse, the lady of the house derides Pudgy as a "nobody." Betty comforts her heartbroken pooch by singing "Every Little Nobody is Somebody to Someone", but the full measure of Pudgy's character is not revealed until he rescues the snobbish girl dog from a watery grave. The musical background score includes the venerable "I Don't Want to Play in Your Yard". ~ Hal Erickson, Rovi

Out to Punch
Popeye and "Battling Bluto" prepare for their upcoming prizefight in their adjacent training camps. To gain unfair advatage, Bluto devises a variety of fiendishly clever methods to sabotage Popeye. By the time of the big fight, poor Popeye is worn to a frazzle, and it looks like Bluto is the sure winner--until the Sailor Man's trainer Olive Oyl brings out his "secret weapon" (just guess what it is!). In this cartoon, Popeye has but two or three lines of dialogue (all lifted from other cartoons), suggesting that voice artist Jack Mercer was unavailable. ~ Hal Erickson, Rovi

Popeye the Sailor Meets Ali Baba's Forty Thieves
The second two-reeler Popeye cartoon finds the spinach-promoting sailor as a member of the Coast Guard near an unspecified Arabian country. Having heard about the evil Abu Hassanand his forty thieves, Popeye sets off with Olive Oyl and Wimpy to bring them to justice. Unfortunately, they end up wandering in the desert, stricken by thirst and heat, and encountering several mirages and passing by dozens of skeletons before making their way to an actual town. Once there, Popeye and Olive seat themselves at an open air restaurant (while Wimpy goes for a more direct approach to his hunger). After ordering and being served the special of the day (bacon and eggs), they are all set to dig in when Hassan and his cutthroats appear, taking everything in sight. The frightened restauranteur reclaims the meal he has just laid for Popeye and Olive before they can take a bite, and the thieves also make away with the hot dogs Wimpy has discovered. Popeye puts up a fight, but is temporarily defeated. Hassan takes Olive and Wimpy back to his cave, where the former becomes an overworked laundress and the latter is wrapped in chains and forced to watch Hussan eat a delectable lunch. Popeye follows the thieves but is captured and dangled above a man-eating fish in an underground lake. Taking advantage of the powers provided him by spinach, he defeats the fish and "licks the forty," proving once again that he is the mightiest sailor of them all. ~ Craig Butler, Rovi

Assault and Flattery
In this cleverly assembled "cheater", Bluto sues Popeye for assault and battery. As burger-chomping Judge Wimpy listens sympathetically, a bandaged, wheelchair-bound Bluto insists that Popeye always beats him up for no good reason, citing as evidence excerpts from the earlier cartoons The Farmer and the Belle and How Green is My Spinach. But when it's Popeye's turn to testify, he turns the trial to his favor by entering as evidence a lengthy clip from 1949's The Balmy Swami. ~ Hal Erickson, Rovi

The Dover Boys at Pimento University or The Rivals of Roquefort Hall
Greek Mirthology
Appalled that his four nephews prefer ice cream to spinach, Popeye tells the boys a story about their Great-Great-Great-Uncle Hercules. Known far and wide for his acts of kindess through strength, Hercules (a dead ringer for Popeye, of course) gets his muscle power by sniffing a piece of garlic. Enter an evil bully (Bluto with a Greek dialect), who challenges Herc to several feats of strength. Hercules prevails until the Bully "neutralizes" the garlic with a bottle of cholorphyl. THAT's when Herc finally stumbes upon spinach as a possible power source ("A strange weed this be!") ~ Hal Erickson, Rovi

Parlez Vous Woo
This cartoon is a takeoff of the 1950s television personality "The Continental" (yes, the same guy who has been so often spoofed by Christopher Walken on Saturday Night Live). Much to Popeye's disgust, Olive is so enchanted by the French-accented TV star "The International" that she even wears a dressing gown while watching his show. Hoping to take advantage of Olive's moonstruck behavior, Bluto shows up at her doorstep, disguised as "The International"--right down to the phony Gallic dialect. Olive is completely hoodwinked, but Popeye isn't so easily taken in, and chaos (in the form of a sword duel) ensues. Heard throughout the cartoon is the popular ballad "Cocktails for Two." ~ Hal Erickson, Rovi

So Does an Automobile
A tall, slender Betty Boop is in charge of an automobile hospital, where cars are treated like human beings. After singing the title song, Betty tends to such patients as an ice wagon suffering from a terrible cold, a wobbly car with a bad case of "auto intoxication", and a race car that has been "living too fast." There's also the nervous "jittery buggy", an Irish-accented police car with flat "feat", and an insane "cracked cylinder case." But Betty and her highly efficient staff ministers to all the patients, not only curing them but giving them a complete overhaul. The best is saved for last when Betty tackles a most unsual emergency case involving an "expectant" auto. ~ Hal Erickson, Rovi

Making Stars
More Pep
Destruction Inc.
Going undercover, reporters Clark Kent and Lois Lane investigate the murder of an elderly watchman from the Metropolis Munitions Factory. It turns out that factory owner Jones is the head of a gang of saboteurs, determined to commit various acts of mayhem before blowing up the plant. Stumbling onto the conspirators, Lois goes to great athletic lengths to avoid capture, but is ultimately bound and gagged and stuffed into a torpedo tube, which is then fired at a naval vessel. Looks like it's time for Clark Kent to assume his true identity as Superman and go into action--which he does, and how! ~ Hal Erickson, Rovi

Gopher Spinach
Popeye heads to his backyard garden to lovingly plant several rows of hi-bred spinach stalks (which he carries in a baby carriage). Alas, the stalks prove mighty tempting to a hungry gopher, who threatens to deplete Popeye's garden before the spinach even gets a chance to grow up. After a lengthy and painful chase, Popeye prepares to kill the gopher with a shotgun, but balks when he is impressed by the little fellow's courage. This act of kindness has its reward when Popeye finds himself menaced by a rampaging bull. ~ Hal Erickson, Rovi

Rapunzel
An animated presentation of the classic fairy tale from the Brothers Grimm. ~ Julie Clark, Rovi

The Mummy Strikes
As The Mummy Strikes opens, Miss Hogan, assistant to noted scientist Dr. Jordan, finds the doctor's dead body in the Metropolis Egyptian Museum, a syringe nearby. Miss Hogan is accused of murder and found guilty. After her trial, Daily Planet reporter Clark Kent is contacted by Dr. Wilson from the museum, who says he has evidence to clear Hogan. Kent goes to the museum, secretly followed by Lois Lane, who eavesdrops on their conversation. Wilson explains that he has translated some heiroglyphics Jordan had been working on and that he believes Jordan had injected an "elixir of life" into the four mummified guards that surround the coffin of King Tush, and then had tried to open the King's coffin, thereby bringing down upon himself the Tush curse. When Kent tries to open the coffin, he finds that doing so releases a poisoned needle, which must have killed the doctor. It also brings the King's guards back to life, and they promptly attack Jordan and Lois. Kent switches to Superman and makes short work of them ,and the film ends with the news that Hogan has been released. ~ Craig Butler, Rovi

Quack-A-Doodle-Doo
Training Pigeons
Wolf Wolf!
I'm in the Army Now
When Olive declares that she's just "crazy" about a man in uniform, Popeye and Bluto rush to the nearest Army recruiting center. This being several years before World War 2, the scowling recruting sergeant announces that he has room for only one new soldier. Dutifully, both Popeye and Bluto pull out their respective scrapbooks and show off their qualifications via "living snapshots" from their past movie appearances. "I'm in the Army Now" is the second of Popeye's "cheaters", utilizing stock footage from earlier cartoons as a cost-cutting strategy: in this case, we are treated to highlights from 1933's Blow Me Down, 1934's Shoein' Hosses, and two 1935 entries, Choose Yer 'Weppins' and King of the Mardi Gras. ~ Hal Erickson, Rovi

The Arctic Giant
Explorers near the North Pole make a startling discovery: a perfectly preserved prehistoric dinosaur-like animal, frozen in ice. This invaluable discovery is brought to Metropolis, where the experts at the city's museum can study it more closely. Lois Lane, a reporter with a nose for news, is of course on the scene. Although she's all business, the engineer to whom she is speaking gets distracted by her shapely gams as she climbs the stairs in front of him. Not noticing what he is doing, he sets his oil can down precariously on a ledge; it gets knocked off into the engine which controls the museum's freezing unit and knocks the unit out altogether. The engineers work to restore power quickly, before the temperature rises and the ice surrounding the monster melts -- but to no avail. Freed from centuries in his frozen prison, the giant goes on a rampage throughout Metropolis. Fortunately, Superman is quickly on the scene, and although he gets sidetracked rescuing Lois -- who is determined to be in on the action so that she gets the best story -- he eventually defeats the reptile and all turns out well. ~ Craig Butler, Rovi

Superman
Directed by Dave Fleischer, brother of the legendary Max Fleischer (who serves as producer), this animated short film was the first cinematic adaptation of the classic comic book Superman. Long before George Reeves or Christopher Reeve donned the famous red cape, voice-artist Bud Collyer was Superman, providing the superhero's dialogue in dozens of shorts and television programs over the course of three decades. In this first adventure, Clark Kent must turn into his alter-ego Superman and save the people of Metropolis from certain doom at the hands of a maniacal scientist with a deadly energy cannon. Joan Alexander provides the voice of Lois Lane. ~ Matthew Tobey, Rovi

The Hot Air Salesman
Goofy little Wiffle Piffle tries his luck as a door-to-door salesman, but his chances for success appear to be slim to none (one customer punches him out before he even reaches the door). Undaunted, Wiffle tricks his way into the home of Betty Boop and shows her his rather peculiar line of merchandise, including the proverbial "better mousetrap", a spot remover that works TOO well, and an all-purpose, rocket-powered washing machine. But Wiffle wears out his welcome with Betty when he gives a disastrous demonstration of his "super-heterodyne" vaccuum cleaner--which is accidentally thrown into reverse. Song: "Nothing Today, Kind Sir". ~ Hal Erickson, Rovi

Pantry Panic
Is My Palm Read
Assisted by Koko the Clown, "Professor" Bimbo has gone into the fortune-telling business. A very stylish Betty Boop shows up at Bimbo's doorstep in hopes of finding out what her future holds. After getting a good look at Betty's legs with the help of a clever lighting device, Bimbo peers into his crystal ball and reveals the "naked truth" of Betty's infant days. Then he forcees a violent storm at sea, which deposits Betty on a tropical island. After undressing for the occasion, Betty is harrassed by a gang of weird-looking ghosts, forcing Bimbo to give up fortune-telling to rescue our heroine. Musical selections include "Please" and "All By Myself in the Morning". ~ Hal Erickson, Rovi

Little Swee'pea
This cartoon marks the screen debut of Popeye's "adoptid infink" Swee'Pea, whose actual parentage is of course neither explained nor dwelled upon. Suffice to say that when Popeye shows up to escort Olive Oyl on a trip to the zoo, she begs off, claiming to be too busy. However, Olive suggests that Popeye take Swee'pea to the zoo--with careful instructions not to frighten the little darling. As it turns out, Swee'pea is completely unfazed by his dangerously close encounters with an elephant, an alligator, a hippo and a rampaging leopard. . .while poor Popeye gets the worst of it, and then some. The Fleischer studios' trademarked "stereoscopic" process is given an excellent workout in this episode, with some truly eye-popping 3-D background designs. ~ Hal Erickson, Rovi

Pudgy Takes a Bow-Wow
In her popular live stage show (rated "4 and 7/8 stars", according to the theater marquee), Betty Boop sings "Down in Our Alley" and does politically incorrect (but charming) imitiations of a Chinese laundryman and an Italian organ grinder. Meanwhile backstage, Betty's dog Pudgy gets into a fracas with an alley cat. A wild chase ensues, inevitably disrupting Betty's act. But the crowd loves the antics of the dog and cat--and two new stars are born, whether they like it or not. ~ Hal Erickson, Rovi

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