Film: Cartoons: Popeye

Popeye the Sailor Man

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Popeye the Sailor ManBy the early 1950's, the scripts tended to focus in on the Popeye-Olive-Bluto romance angle, though the quality of the animation remained outstanding.

In 1957, Paramount Pictures needed a cash infusion, so they ceased production on the sailor's series deciding to sell the 234 "Popeye" films to Associated Artists Productions which, enjoyed tremendous financial success syndicating the series.

By 1960 Popeye cartoons were broadcast in over 150 television markets. King Features Syndicate, though owning the newspaper strip, shared no financial investment in the syndication of the movie cartoons. They decided to hire five animation studios to crank out a series of 220 Popeye TV-cartoons with limited animation during the years 1960 through 1961.

Mixed emotions still persist over these TV Popeyes, though they served to introduced more characters from Segar's comic strip (Rough House, The Sea Hag, Alice the Goon, Toar, King Blozo, Whiffle Bird) to viewers.

They were cranked out so quickly the qualities of many are downright dismal. Many feature animation so weak that people tend to believe that all 220 are horrible which simply is not the case. Jack Kinney 's unit was responsible for many of the bad cartoons, yet, his name also appears on many with excellent animation!

Gene Deitch, former head of Terrytoons, produced Popeyes, which are memorable due to their erie soundtracks. Gerald Ray cranked out Popeyes with amusing plots. Larry "Bozo" Harmon featured very simplified animation. The best of the lot were the Popeyes produced by Paramount Cartoon Studios.

Popeye the Sailor ManBy this time, the personnel working on the cartoons were well experienced handling Popeye films. Winston Sharples' musical scores, heard in the cartoons produced by Famous Studios, were used in these Paramount efforts.

Many stations aired both the Popeye cartoons and the Three Stooges shorts together, as they were the highest rated children's television properties.

By the early 1970's, Popeye's earnings in newspapers, theaters, and TV had grossed over $50,000,000. In addition to the estimated $100,000,000 in Popeye related toys, novelties and other retail merchandise.

From 1978-1983, Hanna-Barbera (who created "Yogi Bear," "Huckleberry Hound," "The Jetsons" among many others) brought Popeye and his crew to Saturday morning television on the CBS Network.

Jack Mercer once again returned to voice the sailor. Mercer also was a story man on the new cartoons
something he began in the early 1940's. Olive Oyl, Wimpy, Swee'pea, Popeye's father, Poopdeck Pappy and Bluto (having been called "Brutus" due to an erroneous copyright snafu for the 1960-1961 TV cartoons) were all back.

Though the old violence could no longer be displayed the cartoons were entertaining nothingness and the sailor offered up safety tips to his young audience ("don't smoke", "stay away from drugs", "don't eat too many sweets", etc.,)

Hanna-Barbera lavished care on the cartoons in a good attempt of recapturing the virtue of the Fleischer Popeyes. This could not be said of the studios next Popeye project for the 1987-88 television season; "Popeye and Son." This CBS Saturday morning half-hour tried to update the sailor's mythos by having him married to Olive. Their union produced a spinach-hating son named "Junior."

Bluto was also wed and he had a son, the town bully, named Tank. Like father and son, Junior and Tank were often at odds. Though the animation was well done, with Maurice LeMarche doing a passable job as the voice of Popeye (Mercer had passed away in 1984), Popeye fans rejected this updating of the characters, though the series, as the previous cartoons, produced a line of merchandise.

In the mid-1980's Ted Turner horrified animation lovers by sending the black and white classics to Korea for colorization. These cartoons, which aired in syndication through out the 1980's and 1990's, were ghastly representations of the classic work of the Fleischer Studios.

Today, the television Popeye cartoons continue to air in international syndication with many released on home video. The Cartoon Network began airing restored versions of the Fleischer and Famous Studios cartoons on "The Popeye Show.," in November of 2001, an outstanding anthology series produced by Barry Mills.

Warner Brothers, who owns the theatrical cartoons, doesn't seem to have the slightest interest in releasing the cartoons on home video or DVD. There is a huge demand for this and Warner Brother's lack of recognition of that fact, as Popeye would put it, is a "myskery".

The Watertown (MASS) Veteran's Association had asked Warner Brothers in 1999, if ten Fleischer classics could be placed on video to raise funds for much needed aid to the veterans. They are still waiting for an answer. King Features Syndicate uses the Fleischer Studio designs of the Popeye cast on all sorts of merchandise. The Syndicate obviously recognizing that more people know Popeye from his animated appearances.

Seventy years later, the sailor is still saving Olive Oyl from Bluto/Brutus, Swee'pea continues to crawl away into trouble, Wimpy still says, "I will gladly pay you Tuesday for a hamburger today" and children are still brought up on the value of eating spinach thanks to?..Popeye the Sailor Man, toot! toot!

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Popeye the Sailor Man

"Taxi-Turvy"

(1954) Both Popeye and Bluto are taxi drivers competing for fares - and Olive Oyl.

Popeye the Sailorman

"Little Swee' Pea"

(1936) Popeye takes Swee' Pea to the zoo and spends most of his time rescuing the tot from the various animals.

Popeye the Sailorman

"Shuteye Popeye"

(1952) Popeye's snoring is keeping his resident mouse awake. The mouse fights back.

Popeye the Sailorman

"Patriotic Popeye"

(1957) Popeye's nephews want to play with fireworks on July 4th, but Popeye tries to dissuade them.

Popeye the Sailor man

"I Don't Scare"

(1956) Bluto bullies Popeye and attempts to sabotage Popeye's date with Olive.

Popeye the Sailorman

"Poopdeck Pappy"

(1940) Popeye's pappy, age 99, wants to go out at night; Popeye wants him to sleep. Popeye tries leg irons, but Pappy manages to put them on Popeye and sneak out to a sleazy bar.

Popeye the Sailorman cartoon

"Private Eye Popeye"

(1954) Olive Oyl is the femme fatale with a valuable, green, glowing jewel in need of protection. Popeye plays private eye and saves the day.

Popeye

"Spree Lunch"

(1957) Popeye opens a diner; Bluto pulls one up right across the street.

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I'm Popeye the Sailor Man
I'm Popeye the Sailor Man
I'm strong to the "finich"
Cause I eats me spinach
I'm Popeye the Sailor Man!

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Popeye DVD's

Popeye (1980)
Robin Williams

This musical fantasy features the famous comic strip character who comes to life and tries to find his real father. Studio: Paramount Home Video Release Date: 08/22/2006 Starring: Robin Williams Shelley Duvall Run time: 113 minutes Rating: Pg Director: Robert Altman. Nothing interests filmmaker Robert Altman more than a contained culture that mixes bare humanity with local eccentricity (think of his M*A*S*H and Nashville). So Altman's Popeye (1980), based on the old comic strip, works best as a portrait of a busy, cluttered, cartoonish town called Sweethaven. But it is much less successful as a comprehensible story about the famous sailor with massive forearms and a relationship with Olive Oyl (Shelley Duvall). Robin Williams plays Popeye with his usual brilliance for mimicry, Paul Dooley makes a credible Wimpy, and Paul L. Smith makes an impression as the oversized bully, Bluto. But this strange, disastrous film never becomes more than an expensive workshop airing out Altmanesque themes. --Tom Keogh.

Actors: Robin Williams, Shelley Duvall, Ray Walston, Paul Dooley, Paul L. Smith
Directors: Robert Altman
Writers: E.C. Segar, Jules Feiffer
Producers: C.O. Erickson, Robert Evans, Scott Bushnell
Number of discs: 1
Studio: Paramount
DVD Release Date: June 24, 2003
Run Time: 114 minutes

Popeye the Sailor: 1933-1938, Vol. 1 DVD
Popeye the Sailor, 1938-1940, Vol. 2 DVD
Popeye the Sailor: 1941-1943, Vol. 3 DVD
Giant 600 Cartoon Pack DVD

Popeye Books

Popeye: An Illustrated Cultural History

by Fred M. Grandinetti (Author)

It’s a rare comic character who can make audiences laugh for well over half a century—but then again, it’s a pretty rare cartoon hero who can boast of forearms thicker than his waist, who can down a can of spinach in a single gulp, or who generally faces the world with one eye squinted completely shut.

When E.C. Segar’s gruff but lovable sailor man first tooted his pipe to the public on January 7, 1929, it was not in the animated cartoon format for which he is best known today (and which would become the longest running series in film history). Instead it was on the comics page of the New York Journal, as Segar’s Thimble Theatre strip. Over the decades to come, Popeye was to appear on radio, television, stage, and even in a live-action feature film.

This comprehensive and lavishly illustrated history is a thoroughly updated and revised edition of the highly acclaimed 1994 work. Animated series and films are examined, noting the different directions each studio took and the changing character designs of the Popeye family. Popeye in other media—comics, books, radio, and a stage play—is thoroughly covered, as are Robert Altman’s 1980 live-action film, and Popeye memorabilia.

Paperback: 337 pages
Publisher: McFarland & Company; 2 Sub edition (July 2004)

Popeye Books by by E.C. Segar

Elzie Chrisler Segar, Popeye's creator, was born in 1894 and died in 1938. His work was showcased in the landmark "Masters of American Comics" exhibition at the Hammer and MOCA museums in Los Angeles in 2006.

Popeye Vol. 1: "I Yam What I Yam"
Popeye Vol. 2: "Well Blow Me Down!"
Popeye Vol. 3: "Let's You and Him Fight!"