Saturday, May 3, 2014

"Popeye the Sailor" with Betty Boop (1933)

What could be more entertaining than a classic cartoon featuring 2 of the most recognizable feature cartoon characters in it? In this 8 minute classic, Popeye the Sailor finds himself ashore after an ocean voyage. He elects to take Olive Oyl to the Carnival with predictable results, as he and Bluto compete in their never ending quest for her affections.

When the Hula Hula dancer (Betty Boop) makes her appearance and Popeye jumps on stage to perform with her, Bluto sees his chance and takes it; or rather, Olive; and kidnaps her with the intention of making her his wife whether she likes it or not.

By the way, while Popeye is dancing, at about 5 minutes into the cartoon, he encounters a snake on stage, and places his pipe under the serpents nose, quickly neutralizing the snake and calling into question just what was in that pipe? This is not the first time I have sensed that Popeye was a “smoker.” In several other cartoons he uses his pipe as a blowtorch to open the can and then inhales the “spinach” through the pipe.

Once Popeye realizes that Olive is gone and in danger, he jumps into “high” gear; and the chase is on to save the woman of his dreams. As in all of the old cartoons, everything works out in the end for Popeye and Olive. This is a unique cartoon in that it is the first one for Popeye and the only one in which he appears with Betty Boop. He also sings the entire theme song, which was composed by Sammy Lerner in 1933 for this cartoon. It was also a hit for Hoagy Carmichael, which I play in my car, much to most people’s disbelief.

Until this cartoon’s release in 1933, Popeye had only been in the funny papers since January of 1929, drawn by E.C. Segar for the Thimble Theater series. Segar had been working with King Features Syndicate since 1919. Riding the wave of success surrounding the Betty Boop cartoons, Max Fleischer decided to animate the cartoon strip, He chose a Betty Boop cartoon to do it in, figuring that if it failed to gain any traction, it wouldn’t be noticed for long.

Of course, Betty Boop may have remained a staple in the world of classic cartoons, but Popeye went on to greater success in the 1950’s when King Features re-vitalized him in a new format featuring Brutus in Bluto’s place. Those cartoons never did measure up to the “trippy” style which rolled out of the studios during the 1930’s, making them a delight to watch even today, over 80 years later.

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