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 the first big post in Coming Up Shorts! as I talk about some of the various theatrical shorts I have seen over the years. This time around, I’m going with shorts featuring Popeye The Sailor, specifically those released in 1946 and 1947 that have recently been put out on disc in Popeye The Sailor: The 1940s Volume 2.
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):
- House Tricks? (1946) (Length: 6 minutes, 59 seconds)
- Popeye And Bluto help Olive build a house.
- Service With A Guile (1946) (Length: 6 minutes, 29 seconds)
- Popeye and Bluto help Olive repair an admirals car.
- Klondike Casanova (1946) (Length: 8 minutes, 5 seconds)
- Popeye and Olive run a saloon in the Klondike, when Dangerous Dan McBluto comes in and kidnaps Olive.
- Peep In The Deep (1946) (Length: 7 minutes, 37 seconds)
- Popeye and Olive go diving for a sunken treasure, but stowaway Bluto is also after it.
- Rocket To Mars (1946) (Length: 6 minutes, 35 seconds)
- While touring a museum, Popeye and Olive accidentally start a rocket that takes Popeye to Mars.
- Rodeo Romeo (1946) (Length: 7 minutes, 1 second)
- While at the rodeo, Popeye tries to show up Badlands Bluto, which results in him trying to undermine Popeye.
- The Fistic Mystic (1946) (Length: 6 minutes, 43 seconds)
- Popeye and Olive come to Badgag, where they run into “Bourgeois” Bluto.
- The Island Fling (1946) (Length: 7 minutes, 9 seconds)
- Popeye and Olive end up on an island with a love-hungry Robinson Crusoe (Bluto).
- Abusement Park (1947) (Length: 7 minutes, 7 seconds)
- Popeye and Bluto fight for Olive’s affections in an amusement park.
- I’ll Be Skiing Ya (1947) (Length: 7 minutes, 25 seconds)
- Popeye tries to teach Olive how to skate at a winter resort, and skate instructor Bluto has other ideas.
- The Royal Four-Flusher (1947) (Length: 6 minutes, 57 seconds)
- While Popeye and Olive are in the park, they run into Count Marvo (AKA Bluto) the magician, who catches Olive’s eye (for a while, anyways).
- Popeye And The Pirates (1947) (Length: 7 minutes, 35 seconds)
- Popeye and Olive run into a band of pirates, led by Pierre, who takes a shine to Olive.
- Wotta Knight (1947) (Length: 6 minutes, 53 seconds)
- Popeye and Bluto joust in a tournament to win the chance to awaken Sleeping Beauty (Olive) with a kiss.
- Safari So Good (1947) (Length: 7 minutes)
- While on safari, Popeye and Olive run into a Tarzan-like Bluto, who is instantly smitten with Olive.
- All’s Fair At The Fair (1947) (Length: 7 minutes, 19 seconds)
- At a carnival with Popeye, Olive catches the eye of hot air balloonist Bluto, who tries to get her away from Popeye.
I’ll admit openly, when it comes to a lot of theatrical shorts (live action and animated), I am FAR from being any type of expert on them, beyond what I can find on places like Wikipedia and what others have to say. And with Popeye, that is something I am very much reliant on, as these recent Blu-ray releases are my first time seeing many of these Popeye shorts in years, as I really haven’t watched them since the 90s (maybe the early 2000s, but not much beyond that), as well as being the first time for me seeing them in the order they were originally released (well, starting with the previously released 1940s Volume 1, as I haven’t seen any of the DVD-only releases of the earlier shorts). I have seen the Famous Studios years listed as being when the Popeye cartoons went downhill, and I can see that happening. 14 out of 15 shorts in this collection are essentially Popeye and Bluto (in his many forms) fighting over Olive, with the remaining short (Rocket To Mars) differing in that, while Popeye and Bluto duke it out, this time Bluto is a Martian leader bent on invading the Earth, with Olive having (almost) nothing to do with the story.
Still, I did have fun with this set! Most of the cartoons were new to me (or, if not that just goes to show how many of them stood out from previous viewings). The main one I do remember was the last one, “All’s Fair At The Fair,” which brought back a lot of fun memories. Yes, the shorts are formulaic, and probably do get old in a hurry, especially if you watch them all in a row. Personally, I slowed things down by watching one of them, followed by whatever movie I was watching next, thus allowing me a chance to savor them without getting too tired. Yes, I do struggle with some of the earlier shorts in the set, with Popeye being voiced by Harry Welch instead of his usual voice actor Jack Mercer (since he was on active military duty and was unavailable), but for a few of those Popeye was wisely kept a bit more silent, and the shorts with Jack Mercer certainly worked a little better, even though the formula was starting to get a bit stale. However, with the restorations that all these shorts underwent, the set was EASILY worth it! The colors are so vivid, especially compared to how they have been seen in recent years! Certainly recommended, especially to help keep convincing Warner Archive to keep restoring (and releasing) some of these great animated shorts!
Popeye The Sailor: The 1940s Volume 2 is available on Blu-ray and DVD from Warner Archive Collection. The whole set has a runtime of one hour, forty-seven minutes.