Wednesday, April 24, 2013

If it wasn't for Olive, Popeye wouldn't beat-cha. You should be shaking her hand and saying.......................

A Sandler reference from my adolescence.  I must be getting soft.

ACT ONE

What did Confucius say about someone with two front doors?  Well, that's Olive for ya in Pleased to Meet Cha!  And so, Popeye comes to one front door at the same time Bluto arrives at the other, and their latest pissing match begins.  They give themselves one last grooming before ringing their respective doorbells.  Bluto looks through the keyhole, and there's a keyhole-shaped fade to Olive sitting on the couch.  Only in a Fleischer cartoon.
And so, the doorbell rings.  Olive throws her book on the floor and goes to answer the door.  I don't usually say this with these Popeye cartoons, but... time to kill some time!  Olive eventually just yells "COME IN!"  Clouds and pounding sounds erupt from both foyers, and in comes the two alpha males.  They look at Olive, then at each other.  They end up throwing the baby out with the bath water when they casually toss their gifts aside and knock Olive onto the couch in the process.  Having the itchier trigger finger, Bluto makes his intentions as clear as possible to Popeye, saying "Hey, runt!  Three's a crowd.  SCRAM!"  Bluto then elaborately hits Popeye in the nose and laughs.  But before Popeye gets a chance to retaliate for the slight, Olive gets a burst of strength and sits them both on the couch.  Bluto appeals directly to his fans in the audience and says "I've got to get RID of that guy!!!"  Notice Bluto's lack of white in his eyes.  His eyes are the color of his skin!  Talk about low budget!
Meanwhile, while the boys grouse to themselves, Olive's just as happy as a clam and looks over the gifts they brought her.  She goes in for a chocolate and Bluto takes the opportunity to punch Popeye in the face behind Olive's back.  Dude, that's low.  Olive offers Bluto a chocolate.  He takes one, of course.  That probably explains his near-spherical physique.  Popeye declines.  He then takes the opportunity to punch Bluto three times in the head behind Olive's back.  Does this mean that Bluto's three times as strong as Popeye?  It might!
We then are treated to a close-up of Olive eating a chocolate.  Gotta like that.  And then... the boys take another punch at each other, but Olive's head gets in the way this time.  This is what the cartoons are all about right here: moments like this.

ACT TWO

Olive puts her foot down.  Her polygamic domestic bliss lying in ruins, she declared "One of you will have to leave!"  "Not me!" Popeye quickly mumbles.  Now... at this point, Bluto again appeals to his fans in the audience... who those people might be, I have absolutely no idea.  Probably the cigar-smoking One Percenter types.  I was hoping he'd go for what Ben Stiller did in There's Something About Mary... and I mean the part at the end where he declares himself unworthy of Mary's love.  He still walks out of her house crying, but still.  Oh, right.  Doesn't he end up winning, anyway?  The point being, Bluto's not brave enough to go that route.  No, there's an assembled audience to be entertained, so he comes up with an idea in that vein and says "The guy that does the best trick stays!"  Hoh boy, here we go.  Popeye and Bluto walk into the next room as though they've suddenly developed trick ankles.\
Next scene: a table in the dining room.  No... Bluto's not going to... he does!  Hey, that's Stooge shtick he's doing.. or rather, the Stooges will be stealing soon enough.  Not much of a trick, arguably, but who knew that Bluto was capable of such subtlety in the setup?  And being the fickle dame she is, Olive starts laughing. Well, it was a different era, and loyalty obviously had a different character to it back then.  Apparently, Olive liked to play favorites, at least until Popeye eats the spinach.
Anyway, we might as well keep score.  So far it's Bluto 1, Popeye 0.  Although, it seems more like Humans: 0, Broken dishes: 1 to me.  Popeye at this point takes it all in stride, and he laughs and sets up his trick.  Popeye takes four plates out of Olive's cabinet and flings them past Bluto's head.  As you can see from the architecture of Olive's house, the plates are able to do a loop and hit Bluto in the back of the head.  Can someone else check Wikipedia for me?
And so, Bluto gets hit in the back of the head with four plates.  He shakes his fist at Popeye, while Olive cracks up anew.  Maybe it's me, but she seems to be laughing a little bit harder at Popeye's effort!  I get it now... she's just insane.  And so the score is Bluto: 1, Popeye: 1, but it seems more like Humans: 0, Broken dishes: 5 to me.  Just sayin'.
Time for Bluto's next "trick."  He pulls a length of rope off of Olive's curtains in the dining room.  Apparently, he's as much flying by the seat of his pants in this challenge as Popeye is.  Surely they will run out of household objects to perform "tricks" with?  Now, from the way Bluto's handling the rope, you'd think he's going to go over and hang Popeye, but no.  "Let's see you break this!" gruffs Bluto.  Popeye tries, but he's in pre-spinach mode, so he can't.  So Bluto helps him out a bit.  Bluto places the rope in Popeye's mouth and punches him in the chin.  The rope splits in two.  But is Popeye at all grateful?  Of course not!  Wotta jerk.  Bluto laughs.  No reaction from Olive this time.  (Bluto: 2, Popeye: 1)  Popeye says "Wuh-huh-huh yourself" to Bluto and reaches for a chair.  "Sit down!" says Popeye.  Oh, something's going to happen.  Now, Popeye knows that Bluto's afraid of heights, so Popeye lifts the chair on high and Bluto screams "LET ME DOWN!"  And so, Popeye obliges, and yanks the chair out from under bluto.  Bluto hits the floor and bounces up, and Popeye sticks the chair back under Bluto at precisely the right moment so that Bluto ends up sitting in the chair on the floor once again.  However, the memory of that brief moment of foolishness when his body was alive with potential energy burns brightly in Bluto, and it probably doesn't help that Olive's cracking up on the couch.  It's Bluto: 2, Popeye: 2 at this moment, but it's Bluto: 1, Popeye: 2 in terms of Olive's laugh count.  The rules must be bent a little bit at this point.  Bluto says "Here's a trick!" and decks Popeye in the face.  Popeye bounces off a sofa and hits the wall, cracking the wall's plaster.  "THAT'S NOT A TRICK!" cries Popeye.  Arguably, it's quite similar to what Popeye just did to Bluto, but never mind.  It's spinach time all the same.

ACT THREE

Popeye kicks his can of spinach up to the chandelier, and the chandelier ends up opening the can as if it were an electric can opener.  Neat trick!  And now, for the best trick of all: Popeye's arm muscle inflates to bowling ball size, and we see a bundle of six lit dynamite sticks within.  When is some gym going to start using these cartoons to ply their wares?
Anyway, time for Popeye's next trick.  Bluto's laughing on the other side of the room, with his hands on his knees to brace himself.  Unfortunately for Bluto, he is standing on a long bit of carpet, much like Olive had in Beware of Barnacle Bill.  Popeye pulls Bluto over towards him and gives him a nice big punch.  This part's in 3D, incidentally... more or less, given the period.  It'd take James Cameron's crew a couple hours to make it 3D in the 2009 cinema sense, but it was groundbreaking for its time.  Bluto slowly flies to the other side of the room, and this gives Popeye a chance to put the long carpet back into place so Bluto lands on it.  This is kinda like the chair trick!  The loop repeats, but this time Popeye doesn't fling the carpet back.  Popeye leaps towards Bluto and a massive Fight Tornado breaks out.
Next scene: a long shot of the next room from a high angle, as the crow flies, if you will!  The massive Fight Tornado continues, and for those of you in the audience who are animation buffs, you know things are going to get wrecked, as it appears that all the room's furnishings aren't part of the painted background, but rather part of the temporary foreground.  And sure enough, the Fight Tornado makes hay out of tables, the dresser, the couch, the chair... oh, it's gone too far, I tells ya.  But Popeye's singing while all this mayhem's going on, so someone's getting value out of it!  Meanwhile, Olive's still on the couch, but she's no longer laughing.  She's standing up, and clasping her hands in concern, as she tries to avoid flying debris.  "Oh, my house!" she cries.
Having had enough, Olive runs to the middle of the room.  She inexplicably is able to stop the Fight Tornado by saying "Hey, boys!"  Popeye and Bluto stop to look at her.  "Did you ever see this one?" she asks.  She grabs onto the chandelier, swings back and kicks the two of them in the face!  They go flying out her window, leaving a massive jagged hole where the window once was.  Popeye and Bluto end up in the awning of the store just across from Olive's house, but Popeye is able to extricate himself before Bluto, and he closes up the awning, trapping a struggling Bluto inside of it.  Popeye laughs and heads back to the shell that once was Olive's house.
Next scene: Olive's living room in tatters.  But who knows?  Maybe it can be salvaged with Popeye's spinach buzz.  "Hey Olive, didja ever see THIS one?" Popeye asks Olive.  He then grabs the carpet and gives it a mighty... whatever you call that.  He lifts up the carpet and thwacks it back down, for lack of a better word.  The force of the wave lifts all the furniture in the room up to the ceiling, including Olive... and it all comes down to Earth again, all neatly arranged.  Apparently, nothing was damaged by the boys' Fight Tornado from earlier, and I like the implied infinite ceiling that Popeye's trick creates.  It must go up really high!

EPILOGUE

Not much of one this time.  Popeye sits down on the loveseat, and Olive ends up in his lap, and he sings the usual closing theme song.  As you may have guessed, my favorite bit is that last part where Popeye fixes all the furniture in one fell swoop, but I could never remember which cartoon it was in.  Maybe now I won't forget again!... ah, who am I kidding?

****
-so sayeth The Movie Hooligan

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