Friday, May 10, 2013
Just as audiences grew weary of Elmer Fudd and Bugs Bunny constantly at odds, so must have the audiences of Popeye and Bluto. It's a big world out there, after all. Perhaps there are equally large, criminally-minded men that Popeye can beat up for a change! Well, Choose Your "Weppins", Popeye's next short, has heard your complaints, people. We start the proceedings with Officer Wimpy... we'll deal with that later on... escorting this big, fancy-lookin' dude down the street in handcuffs. Well, it was a more genteel time before drug dealers started getting their hands on automatic weapons all over the place.
So, Officer Wimpy and this new guy are walking along, all big as ya please, when suddenly... Officer Wimpy walks past a hamburger shop and stops. See what I mean? The blind leading the blind, sort of. But like Hannibal, the mustachio'd guy is ready for any crack in the security's façade. But unlike Hannibal, this guy's got a few more tools to work with, lol. Also, he's probably not going to make a light snack out of Wimpy's face. Pulling out a ring of keys, the dude finds just the right one, unlocks his handcuffs and makes his getaway... but where to go? I mean, any petty criminal could just run away, or go to their mentors at the safehouse. As for our guy, his day's just getting started. He stops at Popeye's Pawn Shoppe and puts his filthy, greasy nose right against the glass. Good Lourdes!
Popeye the Sailor is busy in his pawn shop, dusting off a suit of armor, the kind that only seems to be in cartoons and Stooge films. Admiring his work, he tries to adjust the armor's helmet, but the right arm comes down. "Is that so?", Popeye mutters at 1:25. Lol. Popeye eventually punches his suit of armor in its metallic gut, and it behaves... at least for a couple seconds. Nice going, Popeye! Hope you didn't have to pay too much for that.
The thief looks over at Olive, who's busy playing with knives. Hmm! I never figured her for the bad girl type. She tries flinging the knife off of every body part of hers that the Hays Code will allow. The thief decides to make his grand entrance into the pawn shop. Why, he sounds an awful lot like Bluto! Go figure. Oh, those crazy ectomorphs! The thief takes a box of knives and tries to pass them off as his own. He goes up to the counter and asks Olive for ten dollars for Popeye's box of knives. Well, you just never know what is going to come through the door of a pawn shop. Today, it's trouble. Olive examines the knives... the only way she knows how. Well, first of all, she's unable to get them to stick in the counter, unlike the other knives she was fiddling with. And second, the knives seem to have faces! Creepy. Olive tries several times, but no matter how hard she tries, they just won't stick. "They're only worth fifty cents!" she tells the guy. The guy pounds the counter and says "I WANT TEN DOLLARS!" I'd call this Stavron Syndrome, but I don't want to get sued. At the rate I'm going, I'm probably going to end up meeting the guy in person now. It's already too late. The knives fly into the air and end up sticking in the box, incidentally.
Olive needs an alpha male on her side at this point, anyway. A blind man can see that. For the time being, we'll just have to do with Popeye. Popeye pounds the counter in his own right, causing the knives to return to the box. "She said fifty cents!" Popeye tells the Bluto surrogate. Boy! Just wait til they find out that they're not really his knives! The Bluto surrogate pounds the counter again, and the knives stand up again. "NO! TEN DOLLARS!" Popeye mutters "ten dollars" to himself. The knives get a cameo at this point. Epic.
And so, the Bluto surrogate moves on to Exhibit A, so to speak, despite Popeye's reservations. "I'LL SHOW YOU HOW GOOD THESE KNIVES ARE!" he bellows. Popeye mutters, "Ah, jump in the lake." Lol. The Bluto surrogate takes four of the knives. He throws the first at a painting on the far side of the shop. The painting starts to fall. Knives two and three end up in the wall, and catch the painting before it hits the ground. Knife four ends up sticking in the painting, and Napoleon complains about it. Lol. They pause for the laugh. Man, my typing's getting bad. I just spelled pause as "puase."
Now it's Popeye's turn to examine the evidence. He plucks a hair from the Bluto surrogate's mustache (the hair goes "ING!") and tries to cut it with the knife. The hair ends up cutting the knife! (The knife goes "ING!") LOL. Does that mean the Bluto surrogate is actually Superman? Oh, I KNOW you've seen Superman IV if you're reading this! I hate to generalize.
Now it's getting personal. "This is a GREAT INSULT!" bellows the Bluto surrogate. Hey, as soon as they give his name, I'll start using it. "Is that so?" asks Popeye. Great, great line reading. And so, by the old gentlemen's rules of combat, the Bluto surrogate slaps Popeye with a glove. Twice! "Why...." says Popeye. Popeye gently steals the glove from the Bluto surrogate's jacket pocket, puts it on, and slugs the Bluto surrogate about the face, neck and chest. Just twice, though. That's when the Bluto surrogate reaches for a sword. Popeye doesn't scare easily, but he's scared of swords. Must be a pirate thing.
And so, Popeye starts running away, with the Bluto surrogate slashing away at him. "What a guy, what a g... ohhhh!" says Popeye. Lol. Gotta make sure I get it right. Popeye tries to hide behind his inventory, but the Bluto surrogate slashes his way through a bust and a grandfather clock. Popeye tries to hit the guy with the three-bulb pawnbroker sign, but that doesn't stand a chance. And then, the Bluto surrogate cuts their safe in half! That's some sword he's got there. The kind you don't pawn, obviously. Popeye runs away some more, but trips over a chair. He rolls like a tire into the wall, and destroys the dresser standing there. He ends up with a potted plant on his head. It's all Popeye can do to move his torso so he doesn't get stabbed. I haven't seen Popeye this scared since Shiver Me Timbers! Not good.
Olive finally decides to pitch in, and throws a giant vase at the bad guy. Might as well call him the bad guy now. Also, much shorter than "the Bluto surrogate," wouldn't you agree? The vase bounces off the guy's head, and smashes against the wall, thereby knocking a sword into Popeye's hand. Well, it's more of a fencing foil, really. Let's hope the bad guy can't cut through it too easily.
We're down to the two minutes left mark, and Popeye's just gotten an advantage in his pre-spinach mode, so let's get back into it. The slightly more equitable swordfight begins. Popeye's sword barely stands up to the pressure, but he's more or less holding his ground. That is, until he backs up to the knight's armor, which hits Popeye on the head this time. Popeye crawls under the bad guy just in time, and the fight begins again. The noon hour hits, and Olive gets a big-ass can of spinach. Did they have Costco back then? "IT'S TIME FOR YOUR LUNCH!" screams Olive. That must be code for spinach. Popeye doesn't always eat spinach for lunch, does he? Anyway, fortunately for Popeye, he's working his way over to the spinach already. The bad guy's about to destroy Popeye's sword for good, so while Popeye's pushing back, he reaches for the spinach with his left hand, and quickly swallows it, keeping his eye on the bad guy the whole time. That's a little different, if memory serves. Which it doesn't, because I'm busy blogging! No time for memory! Ain't that always the way?
And so, Popeye has swallowed the spinach, and he's able to transfer some of the power to his sword. And, before you know it, he's on an equal footing with the bad guy, at least in terms of "weppins." The bad guy should just give up now and save himself some heartbreak, but it's time for some sweet, sweet revenge. For Popeye, revenge is a dish served up flambé. Geez! How many arms is that? A thousand? If I were the bad guy, I'd run for the exit after seeing that. He's got an awful lot of confidence for someone who was on his way to jail not five minutes ago. The music starts in earnest now. Not only does Popeye have superior swordsmanship, he's got rhythm, too! A lethal combination. Popeye hits the bad guy on the head with his sword, shakes his tailfeather at him, and gets to work in earnest. Popeye gives the guy a new haircut, undoes the guy's four coat buttons, then ruins the bad guy's suspenders so that he has to hold up his pants in addition to fighting Popeye. That move was a little unfair, so the bad guy takes a swipe at Popeye's sword. The bad guy makes a dent! ("HEY!" says Popeye... but was it really Popeye? I think it was someone in the Fleischer Orchestra.) But Popeye's motivated now, so he matches and outdoes the guy, cutting the bad guy's sword into five pieces.
So, how to handle this now? Popeye throws his fragmented sword away, because he's a movie hero, and he's not going to stab a bad guy with no sword. Kinda like the Blue Raja. And so, in true childish form, Popeye decides it's time to play swords with just his finger. The bad guy obliges. And so, Adam Sandler movies were born. Popeye fights with finger swords with the bad guy for a while, then he pokes the bad guy in his right eye. Now it's Stooges time. Reminds me! That's on the to-do list today as well. Go figure. The bad guy nurses his right eye back to health, and Popeye pokes the guy in his left eye. Oh, dude, that's just mean. The bad guy covers his face with his hands... and his pants start to fall down. The bad guy tucks his pants into the neck of his shirt in lieu of suspenders. Lol. The bad guy reaches for a chair to hit Popeye with. Oh, Bluto surrogate. You have no idea what you're in for. Popeye decks the guy holding the chair, but he steps on the guy's feet so he can't fly away. That is mean. Uncharacteristically diabolical, even for Popeye. With the third punch, Popeye lets the guy fly. He flies over to Olive's corner, and she's ready with a move of her own. She starts kicking the guy with her feet, as if he were Sylvester trying to fight a baby kangaroo... did she just consume some spinach in her own right? Must of. She kicks the bad guy back over to Popeye, and Popeye punches the guy out through their pawn shop window. The guy lands next to Officer Wimpy, still looking in the window of the hamburger shop. That figures. How Clouseau-esque. So I guess the moral of the story is, if you're a criminal, and you happen to break free from the officer who's escorting you in handcuffs to the police station... run away someplace farther than just across the street. Especially if you're living in the 1930s.
The bad guy's hand falls back into the open handcuff, and it snaps shut on his wrist. Wimpy notices this, looks over and says "Oh! Who did that?" We bubble-wipe to Popeye, who sings "Popeye the Sailor Man!" Another twist on the ending formula. I guess this is a four-star one after all. I don't think I've ever seen it before! Leslie Cabarga devoted a few pages to it in his Fleischer book, however. Yeah, four stars. Lotta good moments in this one.
-so sayeth The Movie Hooligan