Sunday, December 16, 2012

Whoops! Popeye and Indians

Hoh boy, here we go... Let me just say up front that I don't typically watch this one.  It's not in my top 10 or 25... or really, any given number of Popeye cartoons.  Alas, even the Fleischers weren't above depicting Native Americans in a bad light, but at least they're half-ass human!  So let's boldly go where few critics dare to tread, off the beaten path of iconic Popeye cartoons to ones of Infamy.  Time for the second Fleischer Popeye cartoon, I Yam what I Yam.


As with the first hundred or so of these, the First Act is all but engulfed by Popeye singing his theme song, albeit on a rowboat in the middle of the ocean.  An egoist of the highest order, Popeye knows what's important in this life: Popeye.  The Fleischers are consummate showmen, however, and they know that new characters help to keep things fresh.  Wikipedia rightly points out: this is the first appearance of Wimpy, who makes do without his trademark skillet and eats the fish of the ocean.  As for the rest of us, we're still stuck with the opening theme "Strike up the Band..."  WTF?  But we do get the sliding doors, the mark of quality Popeye cartoons.
Popeye gets gently tapped on the head by three lightning bolts.  The third one gets a beating from Popeye, and tries swimming in the ocean like a whiny little bitch.  The clouds get scared, knowing they're next, and the rain soon stops.  The boat springs leaks just before they hit the shore, but Olive keeps rowing while Wimpy studies the menu.  What restaurant the menu is for, we may never know.  The much superior Wild Elephinks starts out similarly. 
Popeye starts walking in a straight line until a line of trees gets in his way.  And so, like Paul Bunyan before him, and Bill Brasky after, Popeye quickly turns those trees into a self-constructing log cabin, complete with stone fireplace and a fire already in it!  The trio heads inside.  That is, until Wimpy says to Popeye, "Come on in for a duck dinner... YOU bring the duck!"  Well, blow us all down.  What a Richard.  See also: Sindbad the Sailor for Wimpy chasing ducks.


Popeye angrily marches off Stage Left to follow Wimpy's orders, apparently.  Damn landlubbers always giving orders.  Meanwhile, back to the outside of the cabin, where we see a group of Indians jumping closer and closer.  Now, I don't have Sherman Alexie here to set me straight, but of all the slights to Native Americans in the cartoons, this one is almost downright reverential, at least in terms of the forgotten art of camouflage.  On the other hand, maybe it's just weird.  One dude turns into a house!  Back to Popeye, who gets accosted by an Indian.  The Indian walks alongside Popeye, saying "HELLO!" over and over.  Frankly, Popeye comes off badly here.  A second Indian bonks Popeye on the head with a stone mallet.  Popeye says "Here goes my Twisker Punch!" and by Gum, he twisker punches the Indian in the nose.  The Indian falls flat on his nose, but doesn't spin around!  A wasted opportunity, but it saved the animators some heartbreak.
Now we're talking!  This is what we typically see in these things.  Three Indians are firing arrows at a duck-filled pond.  The arrows don't hit anything, because they're not aimed at anything.  Typical dumb cartoon Indians.  And even when they do finally hit a duck, the duck magically turns the arrows into a turkey tail!  PATHETIC!!!  Popeye bends three arrows on the ground, then marches right into that duck pond at 17.  The ducks dive beneath the surface, and Popeye goes in after them.  He emerges at 21 with an armful of all the ducks, and by God, he's rich!  The Indians grab the curved arrows off the ground, and end up hitting themselves in the ass.  PATHETIC!!!!!  
Meanwhile, back to the cabin.  The jumping, morphing Indians are almost at the door now.  And then, they pound on the doors.  The cabin has two doors, no less!  Olive holds them both closed with her feet.  She's a damsel in distress much like the girl in The Dover Boys of Pimento University.  Meanwhile, Wimpy's busy stuffing his face with God knows what, completely oblivious to the outside world.  At least, until the Indians try to get in via the trap door under Wimpy's chair.  Good luck with that; Wimpy's almost as heavy as Homer Simpson!  


Almost done.  The Indians under Wimpy's chair finally knock him out the window.  And even though Wimpy has his eyes closed, he knows something's not right, because his bowl of porridge isn't in front of him.  Wimpy's standing next to a cactus, so he pulls it back, and unleashes all the cactus' prickers on the Indians inside.  They fill the cactus up with arrows, and Wimpy takes off running.  Back to Popeye, who's marching along with an army of ducks behind him!  He's become the Pied Piper of ducks, who happily inhale his pipe smoke.  This must be fun to watch when you're on the weed; supposedly legal in my state now.  If those ducks are smart, they'll flee when they see Wimpy... ah!  There we go.  Back to Olive, who must have had some spinach or something.  The Indians have breached the doors and are now inside the cabin, but Olive's knocking them all out.  Oh, I get it... you see, cartoon Indians are so weak and pathetic, even scrawny but white Olive Oyl could beat them up!  Something like that.  Back to Popeye, who's galloping through a hail of arrows.  Reminds me of that video game called Drol... anyone?  Sorry.  Far too obscure.  The Indians shoot five arrows at a time amidst snappy jazz music.  Back to Popeye who says "You oughta stop that, on account'a somebody'll get hoit!"  Too much.  Popeye makes it to the cabin, the roof of which is bulging from the tumult within.  Popeye gets shot in the ass with arrows by two Indians on opposite sides of the cabin.  They eventually hit each other, of course.  And then, another fight hurricane ensues, just like the last pic.  Popeye turns those Indians into giant coins.  Good grief.
And now, the big final fight sequence.  A whole arc of Indians is firing arrows at him.  He walks right up to one end of the arc, and decides to go for the spinach.  He starts absorbing arrows, but not to the extent of that one cartoon strip I saw.  Gotta find it and scan it for you sometime.  So, Popeye eats the spinach, then the can for good measure.  (Where's the spinach theme?!!)  And then, wham!  One punch to one Indian on the end of the line, and they all fall like dominoes.


Olive runs to Popeye's side, their victory over the Aboriginals complete... or is it?  From behind the giant rock emerges a Bluto-sized Indian warrior.  Kinda sounds like Bluto, too!  But Popeye's still got the Super Spinach strength, and one punch turns the giant Indian into MAHATMA GANDHI!  Again, probably better to see this one under the influence.  The warrior's clothing flies up into the air and lands on Popeye, with the words "Big Cheese" on the headband.  I guess it's an honor worth having after all; a lesser cartoon wouldn't even consider that a possibility, or they'd just say "Eww!  Icky Indian clothes!  Get 'em off!!"  
And so, after all that... I can take or leave this one.

-so sayeth The Movie Hooligan

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