Friday, December 28, 2012
I Eats My Spinach? Doesn't this describe EVERY Popeye cartoon?
This seems to be the theme music they have on the Popeye DVD! Kewl! You too should know that, ya damn internet-based moochers! Speaking of moochers, we see Popeye marching right along singing his usual, and it looks like much the same animation used in the very first Popeye short. Oh well. As you can tell from the sign, he's on "Foist" Avenue. He walks right through the middle of a fight between two palookas he often sings about but doesn't bother them. They stop for a second to look at Popeye, then get right back to fighting. We get the other verse of the song once again! After all, he's one tough gazookus what hates all palookas... you remember. He walks through a robber holding a gun on a cop! So much for that Good Samaritan law. For the big finale, he walks through a big metal stamper machine pounding a log into the ground. Even though he's not all doped up on spinach, the machine loses the conflict.
Next scene: a building with sixteen windows and ledges. Popeye calls out "Yoo hoo! YOO HOO!!!", presumably to Olive. I'm laughing already. There's a giant rock on the ground that doesn't look like it's part of the painted background. What's Popeye going to do with that? What else? He pitches it up to a window on the top floor, shattering the glass. Despite the damage to her flat, Olive calls out lovingly to Popeye. Popeye spends several seconds blushing, while his heart gets an anchor through it. Does this kind of thing still happen in today's animated cartoons? Olive slides down the building's rainpipe, right into the big rain barrel. Just like Laurel and Hardy. Popeye takes Olive's soaked hand and invites her to the rodeo.
We're a little shy of 2:18, but what the hell. Scene: the rodeo gate, where an anthropomorphic pig is taking tickets. What is it with the Fleischers and ticket takers? A sign says "See the Great Bluto perform." Yes, but what's going to happen when he sees Olive? Olive pays for a ticket, then passes it to Popeye. Naughty, naughty! This was before stamps or hole punches, apparently.
Next scene: ah, comfort cinema. Harkening back to the good old days of animated cartoons when audiences were filled with animals in people clothes watching the spectacle. Popeye makes room on a bench by any means necessary. Next scene: everyone's favourite glutton J. Wellington Wimpy. With the help of some magical paint, he's able to effortlessly paint some words on a giant blank sheet of paper with a brush tied to his foot, while he tends to a giant pile of hamburgers before him. Good Lord. "First event: Fancy Horsemanship," his painted words inform us. And off goes Cowboy Bluto riding a white steed. With a crack of his whip, the horse morphs into three smaller horses! Holy cow! Another whip crack, and they morph back. Needles to say, Olive is impressed (the only one in the crowd who is, incidentally). And Bluto is impressed with Olive's impressedness... something like that. Bluto dismounts his horse via horse tail staircase, and thanks Olive from the ground level. Popeye realizes it's time to protect his turf, so he gets on the horse and... well, I hate to spoil all of it so I won't, but there's a visual gag that even Michael Barrier's impressed with. Eventually, the horse ends up riding Popeye! Those Fleischer boys are certifiable!!!!!
The whole crowd, including fickle Olive, goes wild with excitement! They tend to do that over flashes in the pan, especially if they come from the audience so directly.
Time for the next event. Wimpy sounds like Homer on a stack of donuts! Next event: steer wrestling. Just below Wimpy are two doors marked "Steer" and "Bull." The steer comes out first, but doesn't look so tough. Bluto twists the steer's head round and round. Eventually, the steer's head unwinds, and Bluto gets hit by the steer's horns. At first I thought he was doing this on purpose, but apparently not as stars and planets fly round Bluto's head and he sits there in a daze. The steer, sounding much like Bluto, says "Oh yeah?" Now it's Popeye's turn. Popeye scores the first points against the steer, but the steer uses its hind legs on Popeye's abdomen like a giant pair of scissors; eventually, literally. Gee, I don't think Popeye can take it! But Popeye regains his composure and goes to town on the steer. Music starts playing, and that's when we know the steer's basically finished. The steer puts up the white flag and the crowd goes nuts again.
Now it's the bull's turn. Now we're talking! That's more like the Elmer's glue logo for ya. The bull emerges from under the door. Frankly, I don't know how to interpret that. Does this mean the bull's tougher? More elastic? He sure looks meaner than the steer, you gotta give him that. Bluto lassos the bull and starts to tie it up, but the bull turns the tables on Bluto. After a lighter version of the Fistfight Tornado, the bull emerges having tied Bluto up! Boy, this crowd is very against Bluto for some reason. Smart crowd. Popeye laughs, then takes out a small cape, presumably red. The bull's thanking the audience for the applause, then notices the cape and takes off after Popeye. Now, I hate to criticize the Fleischers' animation, but check this part out! The bull doesn't have enough room to do its figure eights here! For shame, Fleischers, for shame. Meanwhile, Bluto gets loose from his ropes, then lassos Olive and drags her into the arena. She starts kicking Bluto about the neck and face, but that only makes Bluto more persistent, of course. Meanwhile, Popeye's still dicking around with the bull. The bull's got the cape now, and Popeye's trying to hit it.
Olive gets loose from Bluto's lasso and takes off running. Olive calls out for help, and Popeye gives chase. Soon, the action has left the rodeo and spilled over into the surrounding countryside! I've never seen anything like it! Only in a Fleischer cartoon could this happen. Some more play-by-play for you: the bull hits Popeye, Popeye gives Bluto a good kick, and Bluto tries to mash Olive into the ground with his giant hand, but she breaks free and keeps running. Will we ever get to the spinach?
A giant Fist Tornado breaks out with Bluto, Popeye AND Olive in it!!! Good Lord. Now we're talking. Here come the reinforcements!
Bluto is quickly taken care of, his presumed corpse landing in the hollow of a nearby tree. But there's still that bull out there, and it's coming on much like the train from the first short. But Popeye's all too ready for it, and with one punch he turns that bull into a whole meat market. Kosher, of course, because he's Popeye the Sailor Man. Still, I can't help but feel a little cheated. A rodeo with only two events?
-so sayeth The Movie Hooligan