Sometimes the powers that be at DVD central ask me if I want odd things. Things I wouldn't gravitate towards saying 'yes' to. Sometimes they send them along anyways (why oh why do I have a copy of "Beer for my Horses" sitting on my desk?) This Popeye set is one I wouldn't have normally requested but Beau, being one of the finest individuals I have had the pleasure to make review DVDs he didn't want to, is a sizable fan of these old classic shorts. It was the right thing to do for a guy who takes great pains in his life to always try to do the right thing. I present, with gratitude to Beau who is THE MAN, his review of "Popeye the Sailor Volume 3"...
When I was just a mere slip of a lad the first thing I would do after I got home from school (after walking through the driving rain and over six-foot snow drifts, uphill, both ways) is turn on the television and tune into Cartoon Corner
, the local ABC
affiliate’s thirty minute package of classic animation. The young whippersnappers of today, with access to a slew of new and ever changing animated series on the Kids WB
and Cartoon Network
may scoff at the thin gravy of reruns I was forced to put up with but I wouldn’t trade my classic cartoon memories for all the animation in Korea.
Of course, kids today are still reasonably familiar with the classic Warner Bros
. icons: Daffy, Bugs
, and Porky
. However, they’d probably be hard put to identify such lost comedy gold animation as Heckle and Jeckle
and even though they could probably pull the old sailor out of a police line-up (testimony to pop art status) most of them have probably never seen a Popeye
cartoon in their lives.
This has actually turned out to be a blessing of sorts for old-school animation buffs like myself, though. The lack of commercial recognition amongst the kiddies of the new century basically demands that Warner Bros
. releases its collections of the old classic Popeye
cartoons with the collector specifically in mind, as opposed to slowly doling the episodes out under the guise of “Popeye’s Greatest Hits”
or “The Best of Popeye”
or “Popeye’s Loudest Spinach Farts”
. Even better, Warner
has been releasing the shorts in chronological order, something they should consider doing with all of their properties in my own humble opinion. The latest in the series, Popeye The Sailor Vol. Three 1941-1945
rounds out the true classic episodes of the series’ original run under Max and Dave Fleischer
and transitions without a blink into the Famous Studios
run. Lost along the way are Popeye
’s original duds; his more traditional merchant sailor garb replaced by regulation U.S. Navy whites. Gained are Popeye
’s first WWII adventures, his induction into the Navy and the introduction of his four, somewhat macabre, “clone”
nephews, Pip-eye, Pup-eye, Peep-eye
and the tragically named Poop-eye
does pale a bit in comparison to the first two volumes. A lot of the lovable surreality present in the earlier Fleischer
efforts has been toned down and the advent of the war leads to a dearth of Bluto
-centric episodes and leads to some often disturbing ethnically stereotypical antagonists instead. The most egregious offender here is “You’re a Sap, Mr. Jap”
going up against a gaggle of buck-teethed, bespectacled gibbering Japanese, illustrated in the popular style of the times. Though understandable in context, the episode is definitely something to give a skip if you’re watching with kids.
These somewhat minor quibbles aside, Popeye Volume II
easily stands with its predecessors as a quality collection of golden-age animation. In addition to the lovingly restored shorts, the two-disc set features three “Popumentaries”
concerning story art, Popeye
in the war and the origins of his mysterious “nephews”
respectively. The package also features three of Fleischer Studio
’s silent-film era Koko the Clown
shorts. The silent shorts are a nice inclusion (they’re unlikely to be re-released in any package of their own) but I do wish Warner
would consider giving them a soundtrack of sorts. The shorts without music can be a little creepy.
A few years ago many of these Popeye
shorts were completely unavailable outside of hand-me-down poor quality bootlegs. Kudos go to Warner Bros
. for putting them together so lovingly. This is definitely a collector’s must-have.
Click Here to Buy "Popeye the Sailor: 1941-1943, Vol. 3"