Coming Up Shorts! With… Popeye The Sailor: The 1940s Volume 2

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):

  1. House Tricks? (1946) (Length: 6 minutes, 59 seconds)
    • Popeye And Bluto help Olive build a house.
  2. Service With A Guile (1946) (Length: 6 minutes, 29 seconds)
    • Popeye and Bluto help Olive repair an admirals car.
  3. 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.
  4. 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.
  5. 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.
  6. 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.
  7. The Fistic Mystic (1946) (Length: 6 minutes, 43 seconds)
    • Popeye and Olive come to Badgag, where they run into “Bourgeois” Bluto.
  8. The Island Fling (1946) (Length: 7 minutes, 9 seconds)
    • Popeye and Olive end up on an island with a love-hungry Robinson Crusoe (Bluto).
  9. Abusement Park (1947) (Length: 7 minutes, 7 seconds)
    • Popeye and Bluto fight for Olive’s affections in an amusement park.
  10. 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.
  11. 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).
  12. 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.
  13. 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.
  14. 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.
  15. 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.

An Old-Fashioned Christmas Movie On The Farm (2020) with… I'll Be Seeing You (1944)

Now we’ve got something of a holiday classic, the 1944 movie I’ll Be Seeing You starring Ginger Rogers, Joseph Cotten and Shirley Temple.

Coming Up Shorts! with… Safari So Good (1947)

(available on Blu-ray and DVD as part of Popeye The Sailor: The 1940s Volume 2 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.

(Length: 7 minutes)

While on safari, Popeye and Olive run into a Tarzan-like Bluto, who is instantly smitten with Olive. A number of gags involving Bluto and the various jungle animals on his side as he and Popeye are up to their usual hijinks. Some fun to be had here, even if a few gags do get to be a bit predictable (I still had a few good laughs with them, so there is that)!

And Now For The Main Feature…

Mary Marshall (Ginger Rogers) has been in prison for three years, but for good behavior, she’s been given a ten day vacation, which she uses to visit her uncle Henry (Tom Tully) and aunt Sarah Marshall (Spring Byington) in Pinehill. On the train ride there, she meets soldier Zachary Morgan (Joseph Cotten), who has been released from the hospital in an attempt to allow him a chance to readjust after a war wound left him shell-shocked. When he finds out she is going to Pinehill, he decides to get off there as well. He stays at the local YMCA, and tries to see Mary later. He is invited to dinner with the Marshall family, who make him feel welcome. Mary and Zach start spending a lot of time together, as she slowly learns about his troubles. However, she keeps her past a secret, particularly on the advice of her aunt and uncle. On New Year’s Eve, Zach invites everyone to a big party at the YMCA, where he starts to show how much he has improved. However, Mary is worried that he plans to propose, and she tries to avoid the question. But how long can it last?

I’ll Be Seeing You was produced by David O. Selznick as one of his first projects with his then-new Vanguard Films production company. It ended up being one of the early movies trying to start dealing with whatever potential after-effects of WWII, with Joseph Cotten’s Zachary suffering from PTSD and trying to figure out how to fit in. Of course, it is exemplified by us hearing his inner monologue at some moments (particularly as he is the only character we can hear the inner thoughts of). Ginger’s Mary, on the other hand, struggles with her own problems, especially considering her imprisonment is one that would anger many today, in the light of the #me-too movement (I’d say how, but I really shouldn’t spoil too much about this movie). Still, she tries to be selfless, up to a point, as she tries to help Zach once she learns about his problems, even concealing her own from him.

Personally, I enjoy this movie as a fun holiday film. Since it is obviously set during the holidays, from right before Christmas to just after New Year’s, it works quite well for two holidays. It is comforting to watch how welcoming the Marshall family is to both Mary and Zach, as they make sure they have Christmas gifts for both of them (even though they know Mary will be going back to prison shortly). Plus, we get them all casually singing “O Come All Ye Faithful” together, giving it a real Christmas feeling. And then with New Year’s, from the party they go to as they prepare to celebrate the new year, we see how both of them, whose dreams had been shattered by the traumas they faced, now start to have a chance at reclaiming those dreams. A new year, indeed.

Overall, I just can’t begin to say how much I enjoy this movie. From the holiday spirit to the performances of both the leads, I can’t help but enjoy watching this movie every now and again. Sure, Shirley Temple, who plays Mary’s cousin Barbara struggles a little in her last scene, but it’s not bad enough to turn me off the movie. Overall, I would easily recommend this film, either for holiday viewing, or any time of the year!

This movie is available on Blu-ray and DVD from Kino Lorber.

Film Length: 1 hour, 25 minutes

My Rating: 10/10

List Of Actor/Actress Filmographies/Collections

Once Upon A Honeymoon (1942)Ginger RogersMagnificent Doll (1946)

Since You Went Away (1944) – Joseph Cotten – The Killer Is Loose (1956)

Since You Went Away (1944) – Shirley Temple

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