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Popeye the Sailor: 1933-1938, Vol. 1 [4 Discs] [DVD]

  • SKU: 8381235
  • Release Date: 07/31/2007
  • Rating: NR
The original Max Fleischer-produced Popeye cartoons have long been considered one of the two great missing links in 30's animation on home video (and the Fleischer Betty Boop cartoons are the other one). Kept off of the home video market by a combination of materials problems and legal hurdles for decades, they've finally shown up on DVD, courtesy of Warner Home Video. As a longtime fan and viewer of this material, this reviewer can safely say that none of the material present has looked or sounded remotely this good in some 70 years -- not in their initial television airings in the 1950's (when most were at least intact and uncut), and definitely not since. From the opening credits of the very first cartoon from 1933, the black-and-white visuals are gorgeous, and for the first time in a home viewing format, it's easy to appreciate just how "busy" the Fleischer Popeyes were in their panels and action, all over the screen. Many of the cartoons are also racist by modern standards (which explains some of the cuts made for broadcast since the 1960's, and why some were just plain not shown), and Warner Bros. has put apologies and disclaimers -- which are really more explanations -- at the opening of each disc, referring to the historical importance of the material. One only hopes that they will do the same someday with the Warner Bros. cartoons of the 1930's and early 1940's. And in addition to the dozens of black-and-white Popeyes, this set also includes two of the Fleischer Color Classics starring the sailor hero, Popeye Meets Sindbad (1936) and Popeye Meets Ali Baba (1937), both of which look so crisp and bright that one would swear they're in 3-D (which is not entirely an illusion -- Fleischer used a special rotating stage for those titles that made large sections of them look 3-D). The producers haveloaded this package up with commentary tracks on key cartoons, all of which -- except, perhaps, for one by Jerry Beck -- are highly informative and a lot of fun; and there are featurettes devoted to difference aspects of the Popeye character, his comic strip origins, and his transition to the big screen, as well as the various major elements of the cartoons, such as the presence and origins of Olive Oyl. Each disc opens with an easy-to-use menu that offers simple access across a couple of layers to individual cartoons and the bonus features. The sound is as good as the picture (full-screen, 1.33-to-1), and allows up to hear more clearly than ever the different voicings that Popeye and the other characters, which are also the subject of some of the commentaries, along with which animators were involved where.

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    Ratings & Reviews

    Overall Customer Rating:
    100% of customers would recommend this product to a friend (3 out of 3)

    Special Features

    • Commentaries and Popeye Popumentary featurettes with animators, historians and voice artists profiling specific cartoons, characters and creators
    • 2 retrospective documentaries:
    • I Yam What I Yam: The Story of Popeye the Sailor
    • Forging the Frame: The Roots of Animation 1900-1920
    • From the vault: Bonus early Fleischer cartoons, including memorable Out of the Inkwell shorts


    Beware of Barnacle Bill
    Pulling into port after a long sea voyage, Popeye proposes to his girl friend Olive Oyl, only to be informed that she loves another sailor. What follows is a cartoon-length rendition of the notoriously ribald drinking song "Barnacle Bill the Sailor", with bowderlized lyrics and generous doses of slapstick. Since Popeye's romantic rival Barnacle Bill bears a startling resemblance to his old adversary Bluto, an outsized brawl over the affections of "fair young maiden" Olive is a foregone conclusion--and this time, it's all set to music. Beware of Barnacle Bill is not a remake of the 1930 Fleischer"Talkartoon" Barnable Bill, though many of the gags are similar. ~ Hal Erickson, Rovi

    Koko Trains 'Em
    Bobby Bumps Puts a Beanery on the Bum
    The Dance Contest
    Escorting a formally-attired Olive Oyl, Popeye enters a dance contest judged by J. Wellington Wimpy--who uses a lever to "eliminate" the losing couples via a network of handy trap doors. When Popeye proves to be a clumsy partner, Olive allows herself to be glided across the floor by the elegant Bluto, here dressed in "Valentino" fashion, complete with slicked-down hair. Moaning "I guess have no sex appeal", Popeye turns to "my only friend"--a can of spinach. After a few bites of the leafy vegetable, the one-eyed sailor is transformed into a veritable Fred Astaire, and before long only he and Olive are left on the dance floor to "do their stuff"...but Bluto isn't about to give up so easily. The rotoscoped footage of Popeye's tap-dance (to the tune of the ballroom standard "Those Green Eyes") was later recycled in the 1940 cartoon With Poopdeck Pappy. ~ Hal Erickson, Rovi

    I Yam What I Yam
    Washed ashore on a heavily foliated island, Popeye, Olive and Wimpy (in his cartoon debut) make themselves at home in a hastily assembled log cabin. While Popeye is out duck hunting, the cabin is besieged by a tribe of hostile Indians. It looks like curtains for Olive and Wimpy until Popeye pulls out the spinach and decimates the howling savages. The official official entry in Fleischer's "Popeye the Sailor" series, I Yam What I Yam is capped by an outrageously "non-P.C." closing gag involving no less than Mahatma Gandhi. Incidental music includes "I'm Against It", written for the 1932 Marx Bros. comedy Horse Feathers by Bert Kalmar and Harry Ruby. ~ Hal Erickson, Rovi

    The Tantalizing Fly
    Protek the Weakerist
    Popeye is mortified when Olive Oyl forces him to take her sissified dog Fluffy for a walk--so much so that he goes to great lengths to avoid being seen by his friends. Unfortunately, who should be walking down the same street but that big bruiser Bluto and his equally fearsome bulldog (who is so tough that he wears an eyepatch). As Bluto holds Popeye back, his bullying bow-bow torments poor little Fluffy. Clearly, drastic measures are called for--and that's when the inevitable can of spinach comes out, providing superstrength for Popeye and Fluffy alike. This cartoon boasts some impressive "3-D" background effects, as well as a steady stream of hilarious adlibs from Jack Mercer as Popeye. Protek the Weakerist was remade in 1949 as Barking Dogs Don't Fite. ~ Hal Erickson, Rovi

    Colonel Heeza Liar at the Bat
    King of the Mardi Gras
    This festive entry opens with a lusty rendition of the title song, written by Bob Rothberg and performed by the eponymous "King" Bluto, an accomplished acrobat, sword swallower, high diver, tightrope artist and snake charmer (One quibble: If Bluto is "King of the Mardi Gras", why does the entire story take place on Coney Island in New York?) While Bluto draws a huge crowd, his tap-dancing competitor Popeye performs before an audience of one--namely, Wimpy. Gradually, Popeye wins over the Mardi Gras revellers in general and Olive Oyl in particular, prompting the humiliated Bluto to try to kidnap the heroine. The climactic roller-coaster chase is a tour de force of virtuoso height-and-perspective gags This cartoon marks the debut of the immortal Jack Mercer as the voice of Popeye, a job he filled well into the 1980s. ~ Hal Erickson, Rovi

    A Dream Walking
    In this classic "high-and-dizzy" Popeye cartoon, Olive Oyl goes sleepwalking in the middle of the night, climbing out of her apartment window and onto the skeleton of a skyscraper under construction. Certain that the slumbering Olive will plummet to her doom at any moment, Popeye and Bluto rush to her rescue--nearly killing one another in the process. The cartoon's best line goes to Wimpy, cast as a sublimely indifferent night watchman. Virtually all of the sight gags are brilliantly timed to the rhythmic beat of the title song, originally penned by Mack Gordon and Harry Revel for the 1933 movie musical Sitting Pretty. ~ Hal Erickson, Rovi

    Dizzy Divers
    Salvage divers Popeye and Bluto team up to recover a treasure from a shipwreck on the ocean floor. Though they'd agreed to share the profits "50-50", Bluto is determined to claim the entire treasure for himself, so naturally he plays as dirty as possible. But despite such additional obstacles as sharks, giant oysters and "bara-coodies", Popeye emerges the winner of this race for the gold. The cartoon's best gags include Popeye's form-fitting diving helmet, complete with windshield. The background music includes the old reliable "Stars and Stripes Forever" during the climactic underwater fistfight. ~ Hal Erickson, Rovi

    Sock-a-Bye, Baby
    While taking care of a pugnacious little baby (not Swee'pea), Popeye goes to extreme lengths to lull the child to sleep. In his efforts to make certain that the kid is not roused from his slumbers by loud noises, the spinach-eating sailor beats up an entire orchestra, knocks out a radio baritone with a coast-to-coast punch, demolishes a fully-manned construction site, sinks an ocean liner, and even "murders" a street musician who looks like Harpo Marx. Popeye is at his most cold-blooded and sadistic in this episode--but he's none too good for that spoiled brat in the perambulator. Musical highlights include "Ta-Ra-Ra-Boom-Dee-yay", "Emmett's Lullabye", and the Edward Heyman-Johnny Green standard "Out of Nowhere". ~ Hal Erickson, Rovi

    Fowl Play
    Just before heading off to sea, Popeye leaves Olive with a talking parrot that he hopes will remind her of him while he's away. The saucy parrot quickly makes himself at home with a jaunty rendition of the sea chanty "Shiver Me Timbers", and also captivates Olive by reciting love poems written by Popeye himself. Jealous of the parrot, Bluto tries to murder the bird, who escapes to the roof of Olive's house. The rest of the cartoon consists of Popeye trying to rescue the bird, Bluto performing various acts of mayhem, and Olive repeatedly fainting dead away. And, oh yes: Despite his panic, the parrot finds time to "broadcast" the climactic fistfight. ~ Hal Erickson, Rovi

    You Gotta Be a Football Hero
    Attending a football game with Popeye, Olive becomes enamored of brawny team captain Bluto--so much so that she hops on the field and begins leading a cheer, spelling out Bluto's name with her scrawny body. Disgusted by this spectacle, Popeye joins the opposing team and squares off against Bluto on the gridiron. For a while, it looks like the one-eyed sailor is outclassed by his rival, but a quick jolt of spinach evens the playing field: indeed, Popeye literally morphs into a "one-man team." Complementing the action is the cartoon's popular title song, originally written in 1933 by Al Sherman, Buddy Fields and Al Lewis. You Gotta Be a Football Hero marks the last "appearance" of the redoubtable William Costello (aka "Red Pepper Sam") as the voice of Popeye. ~ Hal Erickson, Rovi

    We Aim to Please
    Proprietors of a small restaurant, Popeye and Olive introduce themselves by singing the cartoon's title song, written by Jack Scholl and Sammy Timberg). After the couple moves their establishment to a better location (courtesy of Popeye's muscles), those perennial moochers Wimpy and Bluto try to cadge a free meal. Though Wimpy successfully obtains a free hamburger with his patented "I'll gladly pay you Tuesday" palaver, Bluto is less successful when he attempts to down six sandwiches without paying the necessary 60 cents (this is mid-1934!) Not surprisingly, a fistfight ensues, with all manner of edibles flying through air--and Wimpy grabbing each and every one of them as they pass by. ~ Hal Erickson, Rovi

    The Spinach Roadster
    Singing the praises of his new roadster, Popeye pulls up in front of Olive Oyl's house and offers to give her a ride. At the same time, Bluto drives into view in his sleek, streamlined gas-guzzler, advising Olive to go for a ride with him. When Olive chooses to remain with Popeye, Bluto decides to sabotage their motor excursion by rerouting the couple off the main highway and onto a treacherous mountainside path. The "high and dizzy" perspective gags in this cartoon are truly awe-inspiring, matched only by the wild-and-wooly chase finale. (A warning to youngsters: don't try to replace your dad's auto pistons with spinach cans. Popeye can do it because he's a professional). ~ Hal Erickson, Rovi

    Big Chief Ugh-Amugh-Ugh
    Political correctness is hardly a consideration in this episode, which opens with Indian Chief Ugh-Amugh-Ugh declaring to his jitterbugging braves that he's "gotta have-um squaw". Meanwhile, Popeye and Olive are stranded in the middle of the desert by a recalcitrant mule. Inevitably, Ugh-Amugh-Ugh and Olive meet, whereupon the Chief woos our heroine by showering her with beads. In order to prevent Olive from becoming the Chieftan's "squaw", Popeye must undergo a grueling tribal ritual of strength and agility. The dialogue in this one is priceless, delivered "con brio" not only by Jack Mercer as Popeye and Mae Questel, but also by Gus Wickie, whose Chief Ugh-Amugh-Ugh sounds a lot like Popeye's perennial nemesis Bluto (Sadly, this was Wickie's final performance in a Popeye cartoon; the actor died shortly afterward). ~ Hal Erickson, Rovi

    Strong to the Finich
    The "kinder, gentler" Popeye of the mid-1930s begins to emerge in this cartoon, which takes place at a children's health farm run by Olive Oyl. When her charges turn down a lunch consisting of a huge bowl of spinach, Popeye takes it upon himself to prove to the kids that the leafy vegetable is good for them. After several demonstrations of the "stren'th and vitaliky" brought about by spinach, the kids feed a can of the stuff to a pair of docile cows--who immediately morph into a brace of enraged bulls, necessitating a last-minute rescue courtesy of the one-eyed sailor man. Background-music selections in this one includes "The Old Gray Mare", "In the Shade of the Old Apple Tree" and "You Gotta Be a Football Hero". ~ Hal Erickson, Rovi

    I-Ski Love-Ski You-Ski
    Yodelling their way through a "multiplane" background of snowy mountain tops, Popeye and Bluto show up at the home of Olive Oyl. Both of them invite her to "come and climb the mountain with me", but Olive chooses Popeye. Seething with envy, Bluto dogs the couple's trail up a steep mountain incline, sabotaging their progress every foot of the way. Inevitably, Popeye puts paid to Bluto's perfidy by munching his spinach--but not before poor Olive is launched upon a wild and treacherous downhill ski ride (without skis). ~ Hal Erickson, Rovi

    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

    Shiver Me Timbers!
    While picnicking on a deserted beach, Popeye, Olive and Wimpy decide to "investigake" the wreckage of an old sailing vessel. This decision proves disastrous when the derelict ship turns out to be haunted, filled right up to the crow's nest with gruesome ghosts, dancing skeletons and even "phantom" hamburgers. The climax finds the three picknickers totally at the mercy of the sadistic wraiths, forcing Popeye to take drastic measures--namely, the ingesting of a certain strength-inducing vegetable. The imaginative musical score includes Sam Koslow and W. Frank Harling's lively "Sing You Sinners", originally written for the 1930 movie musical Honey. ~ Hal Erickson, Rovi

    Jumping Beans
    My Artistical Temperature
    The story takes place at the "Sweet Art Studio", owned and operated by painter Bluto and sculptor Popeye. New customer Olive Oyl shows up to have her portrait done. Instantly, Popeye and Bluto launch an argument over the relative merits of painting and sculpture, which segues into a heated debate over "horizontal vs. perpendicular." As Olive looks on in horror, the two "artistes" declare all-out warfare, using clay statues and paint brushes as weapons of mass destruction. The best gags include Popeye's "creation" of the armless Venus de Milo, and a bizarrely racist "sunset" bit. ~ Hal Erickson, Rovi

    For Better or Worser
    Tired of cleaning his dingy apartment and burning his dinner, Popeye decides that it's time to get a wife. He heads down to a seedy-looking matrimonial bureau, where he and fellow bachelor Bluto vie for the affections of a modestly veiled Olive Oyl. Temporarily disposing of his rival, Bluto drags Olive to the nearest justice of the peace (who else but Wimpy?)--with Popeye, grotesquely scrunched like an accordion by a pile driver, hot on the couple's heels. This bizarre entry serves to introduce the Fleischer studio's unique "3-D" background effect, with the animated characters cavorting before a "live" tabletop-model background. The musical score inclues the lilting "Stay as Sweet as You Are", written byMack Gordon and Harry Revel for the 1934 movie musical College Rhythm. ~ Hal Erickson, Rovi

    Vim, Vigor, and Vitaliky
    "Professor" Popeye runs an exercise gymnasium for ladies, which happens to be right next door to a cheap cabaret owned by Bluto. Upset that Olive Oyl prefers exercise to entertainment, Bluto decides to get even with Popeye by making him look ridiculous in front of his women customers. To do this, Bluto shaves his mustache, dons a curly wig and sashays into the gymnasium in female drag--and then challenges Popeye to several awesome feats of strength. The highlight of this cartoon is Bluto's "female impercolation", even though his limp-wristed mincing may not entirely fall within the boundaries of political correctness. Vim, Vigor and Vitaliky was remade in 1950 as Gym Jam. ~ Hal Erickson, Rovi

    The Football Toucher-Downer
    In his efforts to convince Swee'pea to eat his spinach, Popeye flashes back to his own childhood, when he played a game of backyard football against the formidable opposition of Bluto and his fellow bullies. The youthful Popeye proves no match for his brawny opponent until he downs a can of spinach--and then it's every man (or every kid) for himself. The "early" versions of Popeye, Bluto, Olive Oyl and Wimpy are a joy to behold, as is a remarkable sight gag in which the adult Popeye "devolves" to his younger self before our very eyes. Some sources claim that Jackson Beck, who was later heard as the voice of Bluto in the color "Popeye" entries of the 1940s and 1950s, makes his cartoon debut in this episode. ~ Hal Erickson, Rovi

    Feline Follies
    This film is the very first Felix the Cat film, although the cat is called Master Tom in this cartoon. Master Tom is attracted by the meow of Miss Kitty White and arranges for a date. He serenades her with his banjo, although his human neighbors don't appreciate his music, and he has another date with her the next night. Unfortunately, the mice at his house notice his absence, and they throw a big party and eat and drink everything in the house. As Tom sleeps after his big date, his owner finds the big mess and assumes that Tom was the cause of it, and Tom is banished from the house. He goes to visit Miss Kitty and discovers that he is the father of a large litter of kittens. Felix the Cat was as big a movie star as any human in the 1920's. Movie tie-in merchandise such as Felix comic books, clocks, and dolls were popular items. Although Pat Sullivan is credited as the director of every Felix cartoon, he really only produced them. Otto Messmer created Felix/Master Tom and directed all of the Felix cartoons. This film appeared as part of Paramount Magazine, which was a collection of short films that was shown before the feature film. Felix's personality is already set as a strongly independent cat who rarely walks on all four feet. He uses his body and anything else he can find to get himself out of a jam. When he needs some transportation, he plays some notes on his banjo and grabs the notes out of the air. Then he fashions them into a pair of scooters for the cats to ride. ~ Bruce Calvert, Rovi

    The House Builder-Upper
    Volunteer firemen Popeye and Wimpy arrive just a wee bit too late to save Olive Oyl's house from burning to the ground. Generously, Popeye assures the weeping-and-wailing Olive that he'll rebuild her domicile in record time. The rest of the cartoon consists of beautifully timed "construction" gags, with Popeye and Olive performing in a professional manner while Wimpy bumbles and stumbles around. "The House Builder-Upper would seem to owe a lot to the classic Laurel and Hardy silent comedy The Finishing Touch. ~ Hal Erickson, Rovi

    Popeye and Bluto are both sweet on nurse Olive Oyl, but she won't let them anywhere near the hospital where she works. The only way to get past those hospital doors is to be seriously injured--so our heroes set about to incur enough bump and bruises to gain admittance. Trouble is, they're both too darn lucky and too darn musclebound to get hurt: A bull charges into Popeye and is instantly reduced to hamburger, Blutos crashes an airplane only to emerge unscatched, and so on. An amusing twist on the tried-and-true "Popeye the Sailor" formula caps this fast-paced entry, which was remade in 1945 as For Better or Nurse. ~ Hal Erickson, Rovi

    Domestic Difficulties
    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

    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

    Let's You and Him Fight
    Yank-'Em Stadium is filled to capacity in anticipation of the big fight between Bluto the Champ and Popeye the Sailor. Terrified that Popeye is "liable to get hoited", Olive demands that he call off the bout, then walks out on him when he refuses. But when the radio ring announcer declares that "Popeye is down!", faithful Olive rushes to the arena (accompanied by the strains of Von Suppe's "Light Cavalry Orchestra") with a can of spinach clutched in her dainty little hand. This is the last "Popeye" cartoon to include the famous "out of the inkwell" closing title. ~ Hal Erickson, Rovi

    I Wanna Be a Lifeguard
    Ambling past a municipal swimming pool, Popeye and Bluto are both so entranced by "bathing beauty" Olive Oyl that they immediately apply for the job of lifeguard. After declaring their intentions in song, the two applicants are given a tryout by towel boy Wimpy. Though Popeye proves to be an expert swimmer and diver, Bluto manages to sabotage his efforts to land the job--at least until spinach enters the scene. I Wanna Be a Lifeguard was later excerpted in the 1940 "cheater" Doing Impossikible Stunts. ~ Hal Erickson, Rovi

    Koko Back Tracks
    I Eats My Spinach
    Popeye escorts Olive Oyl to a rodeo, where most of the spectators are anthropomorphic animals (a holdover from Fleischer's "Betty Boop" series). Jealous of Olive's fascination with rodeo star Bluto, Popeye enters the arena himself, excelling in trick riding and bull-throwing. An angry Bluto tries to punch out Popeye, but he's soon laid low when our hero pulls out his trusty can of spinach. But there's still an enraged bull (with steam coming out of his horns) to deal with--and without giving away the ending, we can note that Popeye winds up running a butcher shop (with at least one side of kosher beef). Incidental music includes the familiar "Paramount on Parade March". This cartoon was later excerpted in the 1935 "cheater" Adventures of Popeye. ~ Hal Erickson, Rovi

    Bridge Ahoy
    Evidently inspired by the recent completion of New York's George Washington Bridge, this cartoon begins with motorist Popeye rebelling against the exorbitant fares charged by ferryboat captain Bluto. Hoping to put his old nemesis out of business, Popeye begins building a huge bridge across a wide river, ably assisted by Olive Oyl and Wimpy. Naturally, Bluto does his best (?) to sabotage this project, but he is no match for the spinach-eating sailor. Highlights include a robust rendition of the song "Let's Build a Bridge Today" during the opening credits, and Wimpy's characteristic cries of "Assistance! Assistance!" as Popeye rescues him from drowning. Excerpts from Bridge Ahoy were later included in the 1940 "cheater" Doing Impossikible Stunts. ~ Hal Erickson, Rovi

    Be Kind to 'Aminals'
    While Popeye and Olive are peacefully feeding pigeons in the park, sadistic junk dealer Bluto is cruelly abusing his work-horse a few blocks away, urging the nag forward with a huge whip and refusing to allow the animal to drink from a public trough. When Popeye witnesses this sorry spectacle, he chastizes Bluto for mistreating a "dumb aminal", whereupon he himself becomes a target of the villain's wrath. Popeye's extremely strange voice in this episode is provided by Floyd Buckley, who later starred in the Popeye the Sailor radio show on CBS, and whose only cartoon "appearance" this was. The musical score includes selections from such standards as "The Last Roundup", "Love in Bloom" and "Yes, We Have No Bananas". ~ Hal Erickson, Rovi

    Wild Elephinks
    In this early-1930s precursor to the cult TV series Lost, Popeye and Olive Oyl find themselves shipwrecked on a jungle island. Before long, the two castaways being are threatened by all manner of marauding wildlife, including a cocoanut-drinking gorilla (who uses Olive's head for a "can opener"), an elephant with a VERY long memory, a tobacco-hating boa constrictor, an arrogant lion ("I'm KING!"), and even a moose. But Popeye makes mincement (and fur coats) of them all in an uproariously sadistic slapstick finale. "Wild Elephinks" was later excerpted in the 1935 "cheater" Adventures of Popeye. ~ Hal Erickson, Rovi

    The Man on the Flying Trapeeze
    In the first of Popeye's "comic operas", the spinach-eating sailor docks his ship in the middle of a busy street, then heads to the home of his sweetie Olive Oyl. There he is met by her mother Nana Oyl (in her only cartoon appearance), who dolefully informs our hero that Olive has jilted him in favor of a handsome, mustachioed trapeze artist. Paying a visit to the circus, Popeye at first cold-shoulders the faithless Olive, but ends up rescuing her from the egotistical aerialist. Virtually the entire cartoon is sung by Popeye, Olive, her mother, the aerialist and a chorus of kids (plus one alley cat) to the tune of the satirical ballad "The Daring Young Man on the Flying Trapeze", written in 1867 by George Leybourne and Gaston Lyle. ~ 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

    A Clean Shaven Man
    Café waitress Olive Oyl prefers the company of "a clean-shaven man"; alas, both Popeye and Bluto are in dire need of a shave and haircut. The two buddies make a beeline to the local barber shop, but proprietor Wimpy is nowhere to be found ("Probably gone fer a hamburger", grumbles Popeye). Undaunted, Popeye generously offers to shave and groom Bluto, and vice versa. But though Popeye lives up to his end of the bargain, Bluto gives Popeye "the works" in the worst way, leaving the one-eyed sailor in deplorable condition. The superb closing gag features a rare screen appearance by Mr. Geezil, one of the many colorful supporting characters in E.C. Segar's daily "Popeye" comic strip. Dominating the soundtrack of A Clean Shaven Man is the jazzy title tune, which unfortunately was absent in the 1953 remake Shaving Mugs. ~ Hal Erickson, Rovi

    Pleased to Meet Cha!
    Olive is flattered when both Popeye and Bluto come a-courting, but she gets quickly fed up by the two rivals' constant fighting--and when she ends up on the receiving end of their punches, it's the last straw. "One of you will have to leave!" declares Olive, whereupon Bluto suggests a contest: "The guy that does the best trick stays." Of course, Popeye plays fair with his harmless stunts--but Bluto's idea of a "trick" borders on the homicidal. The sprightly musical score includes a brace of Bing Crosby standards, "Love Thy Neighbor" and "Love is Just Around the Corner". ~ Hal Erickson, Rovi

    Hold the Wire
    To prove that he can be just as "romantical" as the next guy, Popeye phones his sweetie Olive and recites some of his own poetry. Olive is captivated by her boyfriend's lilting (if somewhat clumsy) verse--at least until Bluto taps into her phone wire and, imitating Popeye, begins insulting her in rhyme. When he finds out that he is being sabotaged, Popeye climbs a telephone pole and dukes it out with Bluto while both men are precariously balanced on some very thin wires. Despite the danger, Popeye has plenty of time for his patented under-the-breath adlibs--and even sings his own peculiar version of "Did You Ever See a Dream Walking". ~ Hal Erickson, Rovi

    Blow Me Down
    On shore leave in Mexico, Popeye makes a beeline to a local cantina, where his girlfriend Olive Oyl is working as a dancer (with spittoons on her feet). The festivities are interrupted by the arrival of Bluto the Bandit and his gang. After a few give-and-take gags in which Popeye and Bluto demonstrate their macho, the burly bandido tries to "have his way" with Olive, forcing Popeye to deliver the punch heard 'round the world. The racial-stereotype gags in this one go far beyond mere political correctness, but one can't deny that some of them are quite funny. The first "Popeye" cartoon to use the familiar theme song in the opening credits, Blow Me Down! was later excerpted in the 1936 "cheater" I'm in the Army Now. ~ Hal Erickson, Rovi

    Axe Me Another
    After rescuing lumber-camp cook Olive Oyl from a watery grave, Popeye is enraged to discover that she has been booted from the camp by Pierre Bluto because he hated her spinach. "Anyone who hates spinach is my emeny!" growls the one-eyed sailor as he prepares to settle with powerful Pierre. After a lively contest in which both men display their lumberjacking skills to the tune of "I'll Do Anything That You Do", the humiliated Pierre throws his axe and pummels Popeye with his fists, leading to a soggy climax in a surging, log-infested river. Excerpts from Axe Me Another were later recycled in the 1935 "cheater" Adventures of Popeye. ~ Hal Erickson, Rovi

    Popeye the Sailor
    Popeye makes his first-ever screen appearance in Fleischer Studio's 1933 animated short Popeye the Sailor. Originally screened as a Betty Boop cartoon, it features the voices of William Costello as Popeye and Mae Questel as Betty Boop. ~ Sarah Block, Rovi

    Adventures of Popeye
    This landmark cartoon opens with a live-action sequence, in which a little boy purchases a "Adventures of Popeye" comic book and heads homeward. En route, the youngster is tormented by a big bully, who knocks the poor kid down and calls him a sissy. Appalled by this spectacle, an animated Popeye emerges from the cover of the comic book and assures the crying boy that tough guys can always be defeated if you remember to eat your spinach every day. To prove his point, Popeye turns the pages of the book, whereupon the illustrations come to life. Adventures of Popeye is the first of several entertaining "cheaters", utilizing stock footage from earlier cartoons as a cost-cutting strategy. In this case, we are treated to excerpts from the 1933 entries Popeye the Sailor, I Eats My Spinach and Wild Elephinks, as well as 1934's Axe Me Another. ~ Hal Erickson, Rovi

    The Organ Grinder's Swing
    The scene is an apartment courtyard, where all the residents are grooving on the music provided by organ-grinder Wimpy, and are enjoying the antics of Wimpy's cute little pet monkey. The only killjoy in the bunch is Bluto, who hates both music and monkeys and does everything he can to destroy both. Fortunately, Popeye comes to the rescue in splendid fashion--with a little help from the monkey, who has apparently seen enough cartoons to know that the one-eyed sailor derives his strength from spinach. Heard throughout this sprightly cartoon is the title song, written by Will Hudson and Irving Mills. ~ Hal Erickson, Rovi

    Invisible Ink
    Never Kick a Woman
    In a clever twist on the standard formula, it is Olive Oyl who eats the spinach and fights for her man Popeye in this cartoon. The catalyst for this role-reversal is a sexy, Mae West-like female boxing trainer, who shamelessly flirts with Popeye while ostensibly putting Olive through a grueling exercise regimen. In one of the best gags, the predatory villainess repeatedly punches Olive in the face, causing her hairstyle to change with each successive blow. The musical score includes the original song "Learn the Art of Self Defense", sung by both Popeye and Olive. ~ Hal Erickson, Rovi

    Shoein' Hosses
    After firing the incompetent Wimpy, Olive Oyl, the owner of "Ye Blacksmith Shoppe", advertises for a new assistant: "Must be strong! Handsome! Willing!" When both Popeye and Bluto apply for the job, Olive asks them to "show me what you can do" before she makes her final decision. The two rivals demonstrate their prowess at blacksmithing, a "friendly" contest that quickly degenerates into a traditional Popeye-Bluto donnybrook--with forge, anvil and horseshoe all brought into play as the soundtrack offers an ironic rendition of "Love Thy Neighbor." This cartoon was later excerpted in the 1936 "cheater" I'm in the Army Now. ~ Hal Erickson, Rovi

    Let's Celebrake
    In the spirit of the Christmas season, traditional enemies Popeye and Bluto bury the hatchet, don their swankiest attire, and escort Olive Oyl to the Happy Hour Club for a New Year's Celebration. Unwilling to leave Olive's frail, white-haired grandmother home alone, soft-hearted Popeye decides to take the old dear along to the festivities. During a jitterbug contest, Bluto and Olive cut quite a rug, but poor Grandma is left sitting on the sidelines until Popeye plies her with spinach--whereupon Granny kicks up her heels, joins the revellers and ends up as the life of the party. This delightful effort is highlighted by a vigorous rendition of "Christmas Comes But Once a Year", originally written for the 1936 Fleischer "Color Classic" of the same name. ~ Hal Erickson, Rovi

    What -- No Spinach?
    It may be a "Popeye" cartoon, but the real star of this show is the inimitable J. Wellington Wimpy, who opens the proceedings with "Hamburger Mine", a musical paean to his favorite food (with lyrics like "A hamburger lives/for the pleasure it gives"). Currently employed as a counterman at Bluto's restaurant, Wimpy will go to any lengths to mooch a free meal, compelling Bluto to lock up the establishment's one-and-only hamburger in the safe. Enter Popeye the Sailor, who after perusing the menu written on Wimpy's shirt ("Men-oo? Don't want any of that.") orders roast duck. In his efforts to claim the duck for himself, Wimpy manages to turn Popeye against Bluto and vice versa, leading to the usual fistic fracas and a wickedly wry closing gag. ~ Hal Erickson, Rovi

    Choose Your 'Weppins'
    While police officer Wimpy is distracted by a hamburger display, his prisoner, a smarmy "gentleman" thief, slips out of his handcuffs and into Popeye and Olive's pawnshop. Stealing a set of knives, the brash criminal tries to sell them back to Olive, but she won't match his price. Popeye tells the crook to beat it, only to be slapped in the face and challenged to a duel. For a while, it looks as if the crook has the upper hand--but Olive comes to the rescue by reminding Popeye that it's time for his spinach lunch. A beautifully animated game of "mumblety-peg," and a magical moment in which a row of knife handles suddenly comes to life, are but two of the many highlights in this above-average entry. Choose Yer 'Weppins' was later excerpted in the 1936 "cheater" I'm in the Army Now. ~ Hal Erickson, Rovi

    A Trip to Mars
    The Two-Alarm Fire
    Popeye and Bluto are volunteer firemen in this one, with Popeye working for "Company D" and Bluto employed next door at "Company C". Two very loud alarm bells summon both smoke-eaters to the home of Olive Oyl, which is engulfed in flames (several of them "humanized" in time-honored cartoon tradition). In their efforts to douse the fire, Popeye and Bluto spend most of their time attempting to one-up each other, even unto using their hoses as dueling weapons. When Bluto and Olive are both trapped on the blazing roof, Popeye makes a final assault on the fire--this time backed up by his faithful can of spinach. The Two-Alarm Fire was remade in 1953 as Fireman's Brawl. ~ Hal Erickson, Rovi

    Morning, Noon and Night Club
    The 'Hyp-Nut-Tist'
    Popeye and Olive attend a performance by the celebrated stage magician Bluto. Swept up in the excitement, Olive agrees to go on stage as Bluto's assistant, and before long she is under his hypnotic spell, clucking and strutting about like a chicken. Popeye proves a more difficult subject, but Bluto unleashes all his powers in an effort to (literally) make a monkey and a mule out of the one-eyed sailor before a live audience. This cartoon was remade in 1949 as A Balmy Swami. ~ Hal Erickson, Rovi

    I Likes Babies and Infinks
    Little Swee'pea just won't stop crying, and Olive Oyl is at her wit's end in her efforts to quiet the baby down. Popeye and Bluto both offer their services, going through a variety of funny faces and silly stunts to get Swee'pea to stop bawling--all to no avail. Inevitably, a fistfight breaks out between the two traditional antagonists, whereupon Popeye grabs for a can of spinach. Unfortunately, he opens a can of onions instead, and before long everyone is sobbing hysterically--everyone but Swee'pea, that is. Highlights include the "invisible bicycle" gag, and Bluto's steady stream of bad puns as he bakes Popeye into a "pop-pie". ~ Hal Erickson, Rovi

    Krazy Kat Goes-A-Wooing
    Lost and Foundry
    The quintessential "Swee'pea in danger" cartoon, this one is set at the Useless Manufacturing Company. While factory worker Popeye enjoys a quick lunch with Olive Oyl, little Swee'pea slips away from the couple and scurries into a mass of pulsating machinery, all operating at full steam. Although the capricious infant manages to escape serious injury at every turn, poor Popeye is laid low by an exhausting array of hammers, pistons, saws, and drills. In fact, it is Swee'pea who ends up rescuing both Popeye and Olive from a grisly demise. Lost and Foundry was later excerpted in the 1940 "cheater" Doing Impossikible Stunts. ~ Hal Erickson, Rovi

    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

    Can You Take It
    This "Popeye" cartoon is a loose reworking of the earlier Fleischer classic Bimbo's Initiation. Hoping to impress nurse Olive Oyl, Popeye tries to join the Bruiser Boy's Club, an organization where the members delight in beating each other senseless. The Club's motto is "Can You Take It?", and Popeye is determined to prove that he can. After a brief showdown with club president Bluto (including a grotesque "cigar duel"), Popeye is put through a sadistic hazing process in which he must navitage a treacherous maze of buzzsaws, hammers, automated boxing gloves, an "iron maiden", and even a cannon. Though he survives the ordeal, Popeye's membership bid is rejected--and that's when he turns the tables on his tormentors. ~ Hal Erickson, Rovi

    The Twisker Pitcher
    It's baseball season, and Popeye's Pirates square off for their traditional game against Bluto's Bears. Evidently unable to get his hands on steroids to improve his game, Bluto steals Popeye's spinach can, eats the contents himself, and replaces them with weeds. Sure enough, by the time the ninth inning has rolled around, the Bears are leading the Pirates 21 to 0. Unable to understand why his "spinach" doesn't have the usual effect ("This stuff must be cut!", he grumbles), Popeye finally manages to grow a new crop just in time for victory. In addition to Popeye's cheerleading sweetheart Olive Oyl, this cartoon offers a rare screen appearance by Bluto's hefty (and unnamed) girlfriend. The Twisker Pitcher" was later excerpted in the 1939 "cheater" Customers Wanted. ~ Hal Erickson, Rovi

    Brotherly Love
    On this occasion, Olive Oyl is the leader of a pacifist movement, singing the praises of "Brotherly Love" to a huge stadium crowd and a vast radio audience. Inspired, Popeye vows to spread Olive's goodwill message throughout the world by performing a variety of good deeds, enjoying considerable success until he finds himself in the middle of a violent street brawl between the Gas House Boys and the Boiler Makers Social Club. Ultimately, Popeye realizes that "Brotherly Love" can be just as easily doled out with his fists as with his heart. Written by Bob Rothberg and Sammy Timberg, this cartoon's jaunty title song quickly became a standard in the "Popeye the Sailor" series. ~ Hal Erickson, Rovi

    Season's Greetinks
    Gingerly plowing a course through several high snowdrifts, Popeye arrives at the home of Olive Oyl, where he presents her with a "Christman presink"--a pair of ice skates. As the soundtrack delivers a lilting arrangement of "The Skater's Waltz", the couple takes to the ice, only to have their fun spoiled by the arrival of Bluto (we know he's a bad guy because he's using a huge whip on a miniature sled dog). The ensuing battle between Popeye and Bluto winds up on the ice floes in a surging stream, as helpless Olive nearly tumbles over a high waterfall. A literally star-studded closing gag caps this early entry in Fleischer's "Popeye the Sailor" series. ~ Hal Erickson, Rovi

    Learn Polikeness
    Demanding that Popeye learn to behave like a gentleman, Olive forces him to enroll in the school of etiquette run by "Professor Bluteau" (Its motto: "For a Little Dough You Can Be Well Bred"). What Olive doesn't know (but the audience does) is that the Professor is a phony, and that his school is a racket. Only when the smooth-talking "Bluteau" tries to get fresh with Olive does Popeye turn the tables and teach the Professor a few lessons with his fists. The best scene occurs at the beginning, where, after an elaborate "3-D" tour of the Professor's penthouse headquarters, we find the proprietor lounging around in his stocking feet, munching a banana and reading a cheap detective novel. ~ Hal Erickson, Rovi

    The Spinach Overture
    It's a real battle of the bands when Popeye's rag-tag symphony orchestra (including Olive Oyl on harp and Wimpy on percussion) shares rehearsal space with "The Great Maestro" Bluto and his army of long-haired musicians. At first, Popeye is clearly outclassed by Bluto, who not only wields a mean baton but also accompanies himself on violin and piano. But after a healthy dose of spinach, Popeye is instantly transformed into a musical virtuoso. Showing off his newly acquired skills by playing the piano with his fingers, toes and elbows, Popeye wraps things up by literally "socking over" a spirited orchestral rendition of Von Suppe's "Poet and Peasant Overture". ~ Hal Erickson, Rovi

    Let's Get Movin'
    "Oh, I'm so excited/Ha-cha-cha hey hey!/I'm packing up my troubles/'Cause I'm movin' today". So sings Olive Oyl as she packs up her belongings in anticipation of the arrival of "big-and-strong" moving man Bluto. Jealous over Olive's fickleness, Popeye determines to prove he's an even better furniture-hauler than Bluto, resulting in an exhausting array of meticulously timed action-and-perspective gags. Inevitably, Olive's possessions are laid to waste as Popeye and Bluto settle their differences in the traditional slam-bang-pow fashion. "Let's Get Movin" would be excerpted in the 1939 "cheater" Customers Wanted, then remade in 1956 as A Haul in One. ~ Hal Erickson, Rovi

    Let's Sing With Popeye
    This curious theatrical "filler" consists of a lengthy excerpt from Popeye the Sailor, the 1933 "Betty Boop" cartoon in which the spinach-eating mariner made his screen debut. The footage has been reconfigured as a "Follow the Bouncing Ball" cartoon, with the lyrics to Popeye's theme song appearing on-screen as Popeye invites the audience to sing along. Though Popeye the Sailor is not in Public Domain, the 2-minute Let's Sing Along with Popeye has managed to slip through the copyright cracks and remains a popular attraction on videotape and DVD. ~ Hal Erickson, Rovi

    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

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    • Rating: 5 out of 5 stars

      AT LAST!!! The Original Popeye Cartoons on DVD

      • Featured Reviews

      At long last, Warner Brothers has finally released the first 60 Popeye cartoon shorts on DVD. These are all fully restored from the original negatives, and both the picture and sound quality are tremendous! And the animation is incredible! For those not familiar with the history of the Popeye cartoons, this first release on 4 DVDs features the splendid black-and-white shorts from the Max Fleischer Studios. Much care was taken by Max, his brother Dave, and the animators back in the 1930s. Some of the backdrops have a 3-D look. Popeye was voiced first by William Costello until sometime in 1935, and then Jack Mercer took over. Especially then did the Sailor Man start his great, funny muttering. The deep-voiced Gus Wickie was also marvelous as the voice of his rival Bluto. Wickie took over that job from 1935 until his death, sadly, in 1938. The stories are all entertaining and often quite funny. The extras are informative and enjoyable as well. Many of us remember watching Popeye cartoons as a kid, but might only remember the later color Popeye shorts from the 50s and 60s. Those were not as good as these original cartoons from the 30s. If you really like Popeye, you will surely love these vintage Fleischer Studios Popeye cartoons. Highly recommended!

      I would recommend this to a friend

    • Rating: 5 out of 5 stars

      The original and the best.

      • Verified PurchaserVerified Purchase
      • My Best Buy® Elite MemberElite Member

      I got this for my girlfriend's Christmas present. If you like Popeye, the black and white episodes are the best.

      I would recommend this to a friend

    • Rating: 5 out of 5 stars


      • Verified PurchaserVerified Purchase
      • My Best Buy® Elite MemberElite Member

      I bought this for my girlfriend for christmas. you loved it.

      I would recommend this to a friend

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