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.

What’s Old Is A New Release Again (2019) with… Professional Sweetheart (1933)

And here we are for another Ginger Rogers movie, this time the 1933 comedy Professional Sweetheart, also starring Norman Foster, Zasu Pitts, Frank McHugh, Allen Jenkins and Gregory Ratoff.

Coming Up Shorts! with… The Fistic Mystic (1946)

(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: 6 minutes, 43 seconds)

Popeye and Olive come to Badgag, where they run into “Bourgeois” Bluto. As usual, Popeye and Bluto are fighting over Olive, this time in a Mid-East setting. Olive does have a bit more to do, especially as she helps Popeye get his spinach. The gags are fun here, with Popeye and Bluto trying to one-up each other (like always)! While Harry Welch still takes some getting used to as Popeye’s voice, he does decently enough here. Overall, a very fun short that I enjoyed seeing!

And Now For The Main Feature…

Popular radio star Glory Eden (Ginger Rogers), known as the “Purity Girl,” is on the verge of signing a new contract with her sponsor, the Ippsie Wippsie Wash Cloth Company, owned by Sam Ipswich (Gregory Ratoff). However, she really doesn’t want to sign, as she is less than thrilled with the “morals clause,” with her current contract, which states that, as the “Purity Girl,” she can’t eat what she wants, dress how she wants, wear makeup, go out to nightclubs or speakeasies, etc. After some arguing, she is able to at least convince them she should have a shot at a relationship with a man, and they end up picking a letter from one of her fans, Jim Davy (Norman Foster) from Kentucky. They bring him there, and while the men from the company are trying to plan the marriage, their press agent Speed Dennis (Frank McHugh) has to nudge Jim into proposing since he hadn’t had time alone with Glory. Meanwhile, rival company Kelsey Dish Rag owner Tim Kelsey (Edgar Kennedy) wants to sign up Glory for his company, and sends his man O’Connor (Allen Jenkins) to try and get her to sign. O’Connor manages to convince Jim (and then Glory) not to sign with Ipswich, offering them a honeymoon in Atlantic City. However, after the wedding ceremony is aired on the radio for the Ippsie Wippsie Hour, Jim discovers that O’Connor wanted Glory to sign a five-year contract with Kelsey and that the whole thing in bringing him up there was essentially a gag. Jim secretly brings Glory back to his home in Kentucky in an attempt to see if she can live with all the “simple things” she claimed she wanted.

In what was to be her first film at RKO, Ginger Rogers was signed to a three-film deal. The movie was written by former newswoman Maurine Dallas Watkins, who had famously written the play Chicago, which Ginger would do a version of onscreen with Roxie Hart nearly a decade later. Ginger’s only complaint with Professional Sweetheart (and one most of us fans would probably have, too) is that she was, for the only time in her career, dubbed for the singing parts. Otherwise, the movie was well-received, enough so that later that year, she was offered a better seven year contract, during which time she would famously be paired with Fred Astaire and become a bigger star.

Of course, this movie was made before the Code was firmly enforced, and boy, you can definitely tell it is a pre-Code! From some of the frank (for the time) discussions of sex, an openly gay character, and Ginger parading around at times in her underwear (admittedly still modest by our modern standards), it definitely would have been a far different film if it had been released a few years later! I very much had fun with this movie, as it was a complete surprise, and one I mainly tried out because of Ginger. It was very much worth it, not just for her but also for a lot of the character actors, including Sterling Holloway (the voice of Winnie The Pooh) as one of the reporters! I do admit, I’m not thrilled with Ginger being dubbed (then again, I don’t really care for the song, so there is that), and the relationship between Glory and Jim is kind of forced, especially since we’re supposed to believe they love each other, even though they don’t really spend much time together alone until Jim is pushed into proposing. Still, I had enough fun with this movie that I have no trouble whatsoever in recommending a fun movie that in some ways still manages to be relevant even today!

This movie is available on DVD from Warner Archive Collection.

Film Length: 1 hour, 13 minutes

My Rating: 9/10

List Of Actor/Actress Filmographies/Collections

Gold Diggers Of 1933 (1933)Ginger RogersUpper World (1934)

Gold Diggers Of 1933 (1933) – Sterling Holloway – Dancing Lady (1933)

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