Coming Up Shorts! With… Popeye The Sailor: The 1940s Volume 3

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, this time the shorts from 1948 and 1949 that have been released together on disc in Popeye The Sailor: The 1940s Volume 3.

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. Olive Oyl For President (1948) (Length: 6 minutes)
    • Popeye dreams of what it would be like if Olive ran for U.S. President (and won).
  2. Wigwam Whoopee (1948) (Length: 7 minutes, 12 seconds)
    • Following right behind the Mayflower, Popeye runs into Indian princess Olive, while dealing with an Indian chief who also has designs on her.
  3. Pre-Hysterical Man (1948) (Length: 6 minutes, 50 seconds)
    • While in Yellowstone, Olive falls off a tall peak into a deep hole where a caveman and dinosaur reside, and Popeye has to save her.
  4. Popeye Meets Hercules (1948) (Length: 7 minutes)
    • In ancient Greece, Popeye takes on Hercules in the first Olympics.
  5. A Wolf In Sheik’s Clothing (1948) (Length: 7 minutes, 46 seconds)
    • While exploring the desert, Olive expresses a desire to kiss a sheik (and wouldn’t you know it, one just happens to be nearby and tries to take her away from Popeye).
  6. Spinach vs. Hamburgers (1948) (Length: 7 minutes, 57 seconds)
    • Popeye tries to convince his four nephews of the merits of eating spinach instead of hamburgers.
  7. Snow Place Like Home (1948) (Length: 7 minutes, 14 seconds)
    • Popeye and Olive are caught in a tornado that takes them WAY up north from Miami, where they run into the now lovestruck Pierre.
  8. Robin Hood-Winked (1948) (Length: 7 minutes, 12 seconds)
    • Popeye is Robin Hood and must rescue Olive from the tax collector, Bluto.
  9. Symphony In Spinach (1948) (Length: 6 minutes, 29 seconds)
    • Popeye and Bluto compete for a spot in Olive’s band.
  10. Popeye’s Premiere (1949) (Length: 10 minutes, 47 seconds)
    • Popeye and Olive are at the premiere of his short “Popeye in Aladdin’s Lamp.”
  11. Lumberjack And Jill (1949) (Length: 6 minutes, 30 seconds)
    • Lumberjacks Popeye and Bluto fight over the new camp cook, Olive.
  12. Hot Air Aces (1949) (Length: 6 minutes, 35 seconds)
    • Popeye and Bluto compete in an airplane race around the world.
  13. A Balmy Swami (1949) (Length: 6 minutes, 49 seconds)
    • Popeye has to deal with magician Bluto when he hypnotizes Olive.
  14. Tar With A Star (1949) (Length: 6 minutes, 46 seconds)
    • Popeye becomes sheriff of a western town, until Wild Bill Bluto shows up.
  15. Silly Hillbilly (1949) (Length: 6 minutes, 25 seconds)
    • Popeye brings his department store out to the hills, where he runs into hillbillies that included Olive and Bluto.
  16. Barking Dogs Don’t Fite (1949) (Length: 6 minutes, 12 seconds)
    • Popeye is stuck walking Olive’s new French poodle when they encounter Bluto and his big bulldog.
  17. The Fly’s Last Flight (1949) (Length: 6 minutes, 41 seconds)
    • A tired Popeye tries to take a nap, but finds it interrupted by many things, particularly a fly.

As I’ve said previously, I’m still no expert on theatrical shorts beyond what I can find on Wikipedia. This set continues the run of Famous Studios Popeye shorts, with varying results. The “Popeye Vs. Bluto” formula runs throughout most of these. That being said, there is at least some variety in this bunch beyond that. Obviously, we have the first cartoon in the set, Olive Oyl For President, which focuses more on Olive and what she would do if elected to the presidency. We also have The Fly’s Last Flight focusing on Popeye going up against a stubborn fly. Spinach Vs. Hamburgers and Popeye’s Premiere also go against the grain, except they are both clip shows, making use of footage from earlier (and mostly better) cartoons. Beyond those, the rest can and do focus on Popeye duking it out with Bluto.

I will readily admit that I continued to have fun with this set! Continuing the run of 1940s Popeye cartoons started with the Volume 1 and Volume 2 sets, these did manage to be fun! Sure, they have become rather formulaic by this point, and the gags might not be as good as earlier, but they’re still enough fun to watch! Obviously, I still continue to watch them slowly, one before each movie I watch, to keep them from getting too old too fast like they might be if I just binge-watched the set. And yes, a number of them definitely struggle with politically incorrect portrayals, with Wigwam Whoopee being one of the worst, as well as the clip from Pop-Pie A La Mode included as part of Spinach Vs. Hamburger, but, then again, we’re warned about that (in between my own disclaimer as well as the official one included in the disc’s startup). Warner Archive has continued their preservation project, making 4K scans of the original nitrate negatives as much as possible. These shorts continue to look great, far better than you would dream would be possible based on what has been seen in recent years! Obviously, one wishes that all the elements still existed to do right by A Wolf In Sheik’s Clothing, but they did well enough, and this set is definitely recommended for Popeye fans, especially if they want more from the series (either continuing on with shorts from the 1950s or going back and improving the shorts from the 1930s to be able to put them on Blu-ray)!

Popeye The Sailor: The 1940s Volume 3 is available on Blu-ray and DVD from Warner Archive Collection. The whole set has a runtime of two hours, one minute.

What’s Old Is A New Release Again (2020) with… Underwater! (1955)

Note: I know this is showing up on April Fools Day, but I can assure you my thoughts and opinions on this movie are no joke.

Now we have the 1955 movie Underwater! starring Jane Russell, Gilbert Roland, Lori Nelson and Richard Egan.

While diving in the Caribbean, Dominic Quesada (Gilbert Roland) and Johnny Grant (Richard Egan) come across a sunken ship with various artifacts. They are excited when they come up, but they quickly run into shark hunter Rico Herrera (Joseph Calleia), who grills them about what they were doing. They lie, telling him they are studying rocks. They suspect he doesn’t believe them, but he lets them go on their way. Dominic and Johnny return to port in Cuba, where they go to tell Johnny’s wife Theresa (Jane Russell) about their discovery. Theresa is reluctant to sell their boat to fund an expedition, but after she and Johnny are able to talk it out, they decide to go in on the expedition. While they discuss it, Dominic goes out looking for someone else who might be interested, and finds Gloria (Lori Nelson), a secretary whose millionaire boss has left town while owing money to a lot of people. He had left her a yacht, and Dominic convinces her to let him use the boat for the expedition. They are all joined by Father Cannon (Robert Keith), who believes they found one of the wrecks of a convoy that had fled Panama with a lot of treasure, including a statue of the Madonna. After searching the area, they are able to locate the ship with the treasure on it. They run into Rico again, who is still suspicious, but lets them keep going. However, trouble comes as Dominic falls ill while diving, the sunken ship (and some of the ground holding it up) starts falling apart when they use dynamite to open a door, Rico is sticking around, and Johnny starts getting a little too much gold fever, much to Theresa’s dismay. But can they get through all these problems and bring up the treasure?

Underwater!, although directed by John Sturges (who is probably best known as the director of The Great Escape, among other films), was as much a project for Howard Hughes, the owner of RKO Studios at that time. He used the movie not only to highlight his star Jane Russell, much as he had been doing since he introduced her to the world in The Outlaw, but he also used it to highlight the then-new invention of scuba gear. The crew tried to film some stuff near Hawaii, but the footage didn’t come out great, so they came back to RKO, where they finished it in a big underwater tank on the sound stages. Of course, the movie is as well known for the big publicity stunt for its premiere, where they provided people with the gear to actually watch the movie UNDERWATER.

Going into this movie, I will admit I hadn’t exactly been hearing great things about it, so I was quite hesitant. After watching it, I find that my worries were unfounded. Sure, it’s not the greatest movie ever made, but I did have some fun watching it! I will admit, in some ways it reminded me very much of the classic The Treasure Of The Sierra Madre (except underwater). We have treasure to be found, potential bandits waiting to take it away, trouble trying to get the treasure out, one member of the group essentially getting gold fever and threatening those that get in his way, etc. Obviously, it’s not as good as that classic, and certainly the slow pacing (no doubt the result of trying to show off the underwater photography) might turn a few off. But, in spite of the fact that I’m not a diver myself, I was fascinated with all the underwater footage, which made the movie entertaining enough for me. I wouldn’t suggest going in expecting a big classic or great movie, but it’s certainly enough fun that I would recommend it!

This movie is available on Blu-ray from Warner Archive Collection. Warner Archive has been able to do a 4K scan here of the original camera negative, and oh, what a picture! The underwater photography looks amazing here in HD (and of course, the above-water footage looks even better), and I enjoy seeing a fun movie that hasn’t seen a release on DVD (yet) being given such wonderful treatment on home video! Certainly a recommended release! The movie is one hour, thirty-nine minutes in length.

My Rating: 7/10

Audience Rating:

List Of Actor/Actress Filmographies/Collections

Son Of Paleface (1952) – Jane Russell – The Tall Men (1955)

Coming Up Shorts! with… Wigwam Whoopee (1948)

(available on Blu-ray and DVD as part of Popeye The Sailor: The 1940s Volume 3 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, 12 seconds)

Following right behind the Mayflower, Popeye runs into Indian princess Olive, while dealing with an Indian chief who also has designs on her. With the chief essentially standing in for Bluto, this short was still fun. Admittedly, not a very politically correct cartoon, with many Indian stereotypes being used. Still, it had a few fun moments, including Olive singing the song “By A Waterfall” (from the 1933 film Footlight Parade)!

And stay tuned for more of Coming Up Shorts! featuring more of Popeye (and the eventual post on the entire 1940s Volume 3 set), along with other shorts!