Coming Up Shorts! With… Popeye The Sailor: The 1940s Volume 1

Disclaimer: On the disc case, it is noted that the set is intended for the adult collector, which is because these shorts were made at a time when a lot of racist and sexist stereotypes were prevalent. All I’m trying to say is, parents, be careful about just sticking these on for your kids.

Welcome back for another full post of Coming Up Shorts! Once again, I’m sticking with theatrical shorts featuring Popeye The Sailor, although this time I’m swinging back around to the shorts from 1943 through 1945 that have been released together on disc in Popeye The Sailor: The 1940s Volume 1.

Here’s a list and quick plot description for each of the cartoons included in this set (for my comments on the individual cartoons, click on the title to go to my previous reviews):

  1. Her Honor, The Mare (1943) (Length: 7 minutes, 15 seconds)
    • Popeye’s nephews bring home a horse rejected by the glue factory, but he doesn’t want the horse in the house.
  2. The Marry-Go-Round (1943) (Length: 7 minutes, 52 seconds)
    • Popeye’s pal Shorty tries to help him propose to Olive.
  3. We’re On Our Way To Rio (1943) (Length: 7 minutes, 50 seconds)
    • Popeye and Bluto come to Rio, where they run into Olive Oyl as a nightclub singer.
  4. The Anvil Chorus Girl (1944) (Length: 7 minutes, 5 seconds)
    • Popeye and Bluto come across Olive, who is working as a blacksmith and try to help her out.
  5. Spinach-Packin’ Popeye (1944) (Length: 7 minutes, 6 seconds)
    • After giving blood, Popeye loses a fight to Bluto and tries to convince Olive not to reject him.
  6. Puppet Love (1944) (Length: 7 minutes, 32 seconds)
    • Bluto creates a life-size puppet that looks like Popeye, and uses it to make Popeye look bad with Olive.
  7. Pitchin’ Woo At The Zoo (1944) (Length: 6 minutes, 51 seconds)
    • Popeye and Olive are walking through the zoo, and zookeeper Bluto tries to impress Olive.
  8. Moving Aweigh (1944) (Length: 6 minutes, 22 seconds)
    • Popeye and his pal Shorty try to help Olive move.
  9. She-Sick Sailors (1944) (Length: 6 minutes, 37 seconds)
    • Bluto disguises himself as Superman to win Olive’s affections, but Popeye tries to prove he is still just as good.
  10. Pop-Pie A La Mode (1945) (Length: 6 minutes, 53 seconds)
    • After being shipwrecked, Popeye makes it to an island that, as he later discovers, is inhabited by cannibals.
  11. Tops In The Big Top (1945) (Length: 6 minutes, 26 seconds)
    • Circus ringmaster Bluto tries to sabotage star attraction Popeye to get the attentions of Popeye’s assistant Olive.
  12. Shape Ahoy (1945) (Length: 6 minutes, 51 seconds)
    • Popeye and Bluto have come to a deserted island to get away from the ladies, but when a shipwrecked Olive comes ashore, their friendship and ideals go out the window!
  13. For Better Or Nurse (1945) (Length: 7 minutes, 6 seconds)
    • Popeye and Bluto try to injure themselves to get into the hospital, where Olive works as a nurse.
  14. Mess Production (1945) (Length: 7 minutes, 7 seconds)
    • Factory workers Popeye and Bluto have to rescue Olive when she gets knocked for a loop by a swinging grappling hook.

In the early 1940s, the Fleischer Studios, who had been creating the Popeye cartoons, were taken over by Paramount. Having fired the Fleischer brothers, Paramount renamed the studio as Famous Studios. After producing about 14 black-and-white Popeye shorts at Famous Studios, they made the switch to Technicolor starting with the 1943 cartoon Her Honor, The Mare. During the 1943-1945 “seasons,” several other changes occurred. Jack Mercer, the voice of Popeye, left to serve in the war, resulting in Popeye being voiced by some others during that time (mostly Harry Welch, although Olive Oyl voice actress Mae Questel did the part once for the cartoon Shape Ahoy). Speaking of Olive Oyl, Margie Hines started out voicing her for one of the Technicolor shorts, but, with production of the shorts moving from Miami back to New York City, Mae Questel resumed her voice duties as Olive for the first time since 1938. Also, starting with The Anvil Chorus Girl, Jackson Beck would voice the character of Bluto, and would continue to do so until 1962.

Ok, so I’m doing things the roundabout way by commenting on the 1940s Volume 1 set after having already done so for both the second and third volumes, but I still enjoy these cartoons! A lot more of the cartoons from this set are familiar to me, as I have stronger memories of some of them from my childhood. As a whole, these shorts are definitely better than the later ones, with greater variety and more characters involved, such as Popeye’s buddy Shorty. The only less-than-stellar short in this set is Pop-Pie A La Mode, which is so blatantly racist in some of its portrayals that its not even funny (but at least you can skip past that one if you are so inclined). I will admit that a couple of the later ones in this set aren’t *quite* as fun, since Jack Mercer didn’t voice Popeye (and your level of enjoyment for that reason may vary), but I personally don’t think they’re too bad. These cartoons all had their original nitrate Technicolor negatives scanned in 4K, and the colors are just so fantastic and vivid here, just as they are in the later sets. Personally, I have no trouble whatsoever in recommending this set (especially if we still want more)!

Popeye The Sailor: The 1940s Volume 1 is available on Blu-ray and DVD from Warner Archive Collection. The whole set has a runtime of one hour, thirty-nine minutes.

Thoughts From The Music(al) Man (2020) on… Lost In A Harem (1944)

Over at The Pure Entertainment Preservation Society, they have been celebrating the month of July as Clean Movie Month 2020, in honor of the beginning of the Breen Code Era (1934-1954), and so, since I have a few movies to work with from that era, I figured I would join in! And to do so, I’ll start in with the first half of today’s Abbott and Costello double-feature, which is their 1944 MGM comedy Lost In A Harem.

In the Arabian city of Port Inferno, a pair of bad magicians, Peter Johnson (Bud Abbott) and Harvey Garvey (Lou Costello), accidentally start a fight in a nightclub that results in the two of them being thrown in jail, along with their blond-haired singer friend Hazel Moon (Marilyn Maxwell). However, they are given the opportunity to escape by Prince Ramo (John Conte), who needs their help (or, more specifically, Hazel’s, but she won’t do it unless Peter and Harvey can go along with her). Once they all get to Ramo’s camp in the desert, he reveals that he needs their help to regain the throne from his evil uncle Nimativ (Douglas Dumbrille), since he is crazy about blondes. However, once Peter, Harvey and Hazel sneak into the palace, Nimativ quickly realizes their purpose and hypnotizes the three of them with his rings. Lucky for them, Ramo sneaks in and sticks them with a pin to break their trance, but he is quickly captured. Peter and Harvey get away, hiding among Nimativ’s harem, but they are soon discovered and captured themselves. They are soon freed (in and out of jail a lot, aren’t they?), but can they manage to stop Nimativ and help Ramo regain the throne?

Even though Lost In A Harem was the second film in Abbott and Costello’s contract with MGM, it had originally been intended to be their first film. However, some of the plot elements from the original script ended up being used in their first film, Rio Rita, and so changes were made to continue on with Lost In A Harem. However, production was delayed nearly a year because of Lou’s bout with rheumatic fever and the death of his son. Between their salaries and the costs of the movie production (although it helped a little that they re-used sets from the 1944 Kismet), the movie proved to be expensive to produce (but it paid off onscreen)!

Of the three films that Bud and Lou made for MGM, I would have to say that I like this one the best. The main reason is that I consider the comedy routines they do here some of my favorites. I love how they interact with actor Murray Leonard as the Derelict, doing the “Slowly I Turned” comedy routine with him near the beginning of the movie, and making it something of a running joke throughout the movie. Makes me laugh every time (just don’t expect me to list the name of the place that shouldn’t be mentioned 😉 )! And it feels just as appropriate when they bring him back for the “Invisible Friend” routine! Between those moments, I just love watching these two! I’ll admit, the music isn’t particularly memorable (for me), but that’s a minor complaint. The hypnosis factor always allows for good comedy (and allows for any acting issues for Jimmy Dorsey and his orchestra)!

This movie was indeed made during the Code era, and it works. Admittedly, from what I have read, the censors were originally worried about the costumes for all the harem girls. Personally, I don’t think there is any problem with it, but, then again, opinions may vary. There is very little violence in this movie, and what little there is is generally comically exaggerated. My own opinion is that this movie is just good, clean fun, and it’s one I enjoy watching every now and then! Certainly one I would highly recommend!

This movie is available on DVD paired with Abbott And Costello In Hollywood (1945) from Warner Archive Collection.

Film Length: 1 hour, 29 minutes

My Rating: 10/10

Audience Rating:

*ranked #10 in Top 10 Movies Watched In 2020

List Of Actor/Actress Filmographies/Collections

In Society (1944) Bud Abbott/ Lou CostelloHere Come The Co-Eds (1945)

Coming Up Shorts! with… Her Honor, The Mare (1943)

(available on Blu-ray and DVD as part of Popeye The Sailor: The 1940s Volume 1 from Warner Archive Collection)

Disclaimer: On the disc case, it is noted that the set is intended for the adult collector, which is because these shorts were made at a time when a lot of racist and sexist stereotypes were prevalent. All I’m trying to say is, parents, be careful about just sticking these on for your kids.

Welcome to my new feature on various theatrical shorts! Sometimes my comments will be on shorts included as extras on a disc set I am reviewing, and other times, they will be completely unrelated to the movie being reviewed (and I will try to indicate which). Hope you enjoy!

(Length: 7 minutes, 15 seconds)

Popeye’s nephews bring home a horse rejected by the glue factory, but he doesn’t want the horse in the house. A few fun gags as Popeye’s nephews try to get the horse past Popeye. Certainly more fun since it is not as formulaic as some of the later cartoons would be, with no sign of either Olive or Bluto. And certainly, influenced by the times and the Code to keep it clean for everyone. Not one of Popeye’s best, but at least it’s a nice change from the usual “Popeye Vs. Bluto” formula that became a little too prevalent!

And stay tuned for more of Coming Up Shorts! featuring more of Popeye (and the eventual post on the entire 1940s Volume 1 set), along with other shorts!