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Popeye the Sailor: 24 Classic Cartoons [75th Anniversary] [DVD]

Release Date:10/27/2009

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    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

    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

    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

    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

    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

    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

    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? all depends on the meaning of "triumphant." ~ 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

    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

    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

    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

    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

    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

    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

    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

    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

    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

    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

    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

    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

    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

    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

    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

    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

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