Saturday, November 13, 2004

Popeye is 75

Ivan, over at Thrilling Days of Yesteryear, reminds us that Popeye is celebrating his 75th birthday this year. There's a link to this article in the New York Times, but you'll have to register to read it.

The good news for Popeye fans is that in December the Cartoon Network will be devoting four consecutive Fridays to the Sailor Man, showing all the great Fleischer cartoons and others as well. There's a good article about this celebration here.

As for me, I decided not to wait for the Cartooon Network. I got out one of my dollar DVDs and watched a few episodes. There's only one from the Fleischer era on Volume One. It's "Popeye Meets Ali Baba and His 40 Thieves," from 1937. Great visuals and animation, a song from Ali Baba (Bluto, of course), Popeye's trademark muttering, and jokes (Popeye, while they're wandering in the desert: "If I had some bread, I'd make me a sandwich, if I had a witch"). This was the best cartoon on the DVD. Coming in second is "Big Bad Sinbad," from the '50s. The visuals are almost as good as in the '30s cartoon. Bluto is a pretty tough Sinbad, but Popeye (with the help of some spinach) takes care of him. "Ancient Fistory" is the Cinderella story, with Popeye in the Cinderella role, or the "Cinderfella" role, as he puts it (years before Jerry Lewis came up with the idea). I'll have to watch a few more of these soon.

UPDATE: I had another look at "Big Bad Sinbad" because I was a little bothered by it, and I think I've figured out why. This is two cartoons in one. What they did was take one of the earlier Fleischer cartoons, and butcher it. There's a new opening and a new ending, with some interruptions along the way. A good bit of the earlier cartoon (which was probably much better) has been cut. At least that's the way I see it. Maybe I'll look into this further. Or maybe not.


Ivan G. said...

I know that this is a little beyond the $1.00 budgeted for DVDs here at your blog, Bill--but VCI has a nice set of Popeye cartoons on DVD that features commentary from Cartoon Brew's Jerry Beck, a gallery of classic Popeye movie posters and a nice book written by Mr. B himself. Digital Eyes DVD has it for $10.95.

Bill said...

Sounds like at least as good a deal as the dollar DVDs. The extras alone should be worth it.

Elisson said...

The Max Fleischer Popeye shorts - the old, non-colorized versions - are works of genius. I wouldn't give arat's ass for the abominations the Paramount came out with, years later.

The muttering...that's the best part.