Friday, May 17, 2013

"The Graduate" with Popeye as Benjamin Braddock

Kewl!  According to Wikipedia, this is the first Popeye to use 3-D backgrounds.  I've been looking forward to that.

For shame, YouTube Intelli-search!  It's For Better or Worser, not For Better or Worse!  What gives?  Computers are kinda stupid.  Anyway, the slate is wiped clean once again, and we find Popeye all alone, at the men-only Bachelor Apartments.  For some strange reason, I thought he was in the navy.  I guess he's just a lone sailor.  They have one-man armies, why not a one-man navy?  Besides, with Popeye and a little spinach, all enemies of freedom don't stand a chance.  But, as it happens, Popeye's a lost man without his spinach, and we soon find him trying to hold a single household together. 
Next scene: Sheesh!  What a mess.  Using the bathtub as an umbrella stand... the very idea.  We close in on Popeye standing next to his oven, and it looks like he's mixing up a batch of pancakes.  He's got an empty look in his eyes!  Oh, I don't like that at all.  And then... the theme song!  Why, I can't even remember the last time one of these cartoons opened with that.
And now, time for a good spate of mumbling as Popeye does battle with an unruly oven.  Cooking four things at once is hard!  Especially for this guy.  He wrecks the coffee pot and burning his eggs, and then... oh no!  Not the chicken!  It's burned to a tiny chick by the time Popeye opens the oven door.  That tears it.  Once the pipe twirls, all bets are off.  "I HAVE TO GET ME A WIFE!" bellows Popeye, throwing his apron over the remnants of what was supposed to be the center piece of the meal.  Popeye walks through his front door and out into the world at large.  Look out, world!


Next scene: Popeye goes to... where else?  Your friendly neighborhood "Matrimonial Agency."  Notice the slick cross-fade as he walks through the door.  "Matrimonial agency!  That's where I'll find a good woman.  I'll bet ten dollars on it," mumbles Popeye.  But she's only worth fifty cents!... oh, wait, that was the last one.  I get confused. 
And as you can see, Bluto's already there, looking for a woman as well.  Popeye looks at the pictures on the wall.  There's an "it girl," a fat chick, and a widower with a lot of kids... or maybe she just runs an orphanage.  Of course, all these sailor types want a bad girl, and Olive's picture has the following caption:

No. 13

Leaving the irony of the number aside, Popeye and Bluto both grab her picture, go up to the buck-tooth geeky guy at the counter and say in unison "I WANT TO MARRY THIS ONE!"  They then realize that they're both holding the same photo, and they gleer at each other.  Rather than referee this pissing match, the cashier just presses the button to call Olive.
Next scene: I remember this part!  Mostly because of the scrolling number.  I used to really like that kind of stuff, and I would tend to ignore the larger picture... the larger picture being, these women really have nothing better to do than sit around, waiting for some loser off the street to marry them?  Actually, I guess things haven't changed all that much over the years.  All the women who aren't number 13 hang their heads in shame, as a very East Coast voice drones "Call for number thoi-teen!"  Olive realizes it's her that's being called, and she gets all dolled up for her big entrance.  This'll eat up some time!  Cynical, I know.
She throws her romance novel up into the air and it doesn't come down.  Lol.  She hollers "Hooray!" and starts applying the war paint.  She has a foundation brush case that makes the same squeaky noise as do the cigars in Can You Take It?  Some fun, eh, kid?  Now, some of you might find her lipstick a little strange.  I certainly do, but we'll press on, regardless.  And last but not least, the eye lashes.  In fact, it seems to be the best part.  Reminds me of that orange.  Olive then pulls her veil over her face, and proudly walks out to meet her suitors, taunting the other ladies as she goes.  What a bitch.  God bless heterosexual marriage!  Nyaah nyaah is what it's all about.  Of course, she's got her usual outfit on.  I don't think it was meant to be a wedding dress, but never mind.
Next scene: she makes her grand entrance, as though she was in a church being escorted by her father to the altar.  She walks up to Bluto and Popeye and asks "Who's my boyfriend?"  Bluto and Popeye both bow at the same time, and hit their heads just like the Three Stooges!  I guess that means Bluto is Moe and Curly all rolled into one... or maybe Moe and Larry. 
And then... the tug of war begins.  Bluto meets Popeye in the middle and bellows "SHE DON'T WANT A RUNT LIKE YOU!"  And, judging from the musical number from the 1980 movie, I'd have to agree.  I mean, it's called "He's Large," for God's sake!  And so, Bluto picks up Popeye by his face, and heaves him against the wall of pictures.  All the pictures crash to the floor.  This is still a comedy, right?
And so, the chase is on.  Popeye's always several steps behind.  He picks himself up off the floor, twirls his pipe, and starts galloping after Bluto.  The background music seems to be "Blow the Man Down," but I prefer the rendition in Axe Me Another... I mean, version.
And so, the 3D part begins.  Apparently, the Fleischers and their team would build three dimensional sets on a giant turntable, and film cels standing up in front of them.  Genius.  However, this must be one of the first ones they've done.  Notice how quickly it repeats!  And I thought Hanna Barbera was bad!  Take a 3D background in something like The Spinach Roadster.  They made some strides in the art form by that point.
Anyway, back to the horse race.  Bluto had about as good of a head start as you'd expect, but Popeye's finally catching up.  Popeye grabs onto Olive's left arm and tries dragging Bluto to a stop, but to no avail.  He then tries to ... actually, I don't know what he's trying to do; either outrun Bluto, or just get Bluto to look over.  And then... yup, Olive hits a tree.  Her arms tie into a knot and make that damn "ING!" sound again!  Well, it was all the rage in the Fleischer audio department that year.
Next scene: Bluto looks back to see Olive, then he turns to Popeye, and picks him up and punches him into a telephone pole.  Alas, even in cases like this, you only end up hurting yourself, tee hee hee.
Back to Olive, who doesn't know her own strength, especially with the veil still over her face.  Unable to untie her arms, she's now walking slowly along, carrying the whole tree with her!  She walks up to Popeye avec tree, and Popeye's just shaken himself to full consciousness.  He's unable to untie Olive's arms as well, so he just breaks the tree off near her arms.  Lol.  "C'mon, baby!" Popeye mumbles.  Bluto removes the telephone pole from atop his head, and takes off after Popeye.
Popeye's clearly not running fast enough, and now Bluto gains on him.  Bluto now grabs hold of Olive's arm and he's able to drag Popeye to a stop.  They're now in the middle of the street, with Popeye trying to run.  Oh, it's one of the saddest things I've ever seen.  It gets worse.  Bluto gives Olive's arm a mighty tug, and Popeye flies in the air towards him.  Bluto punches Popeye to the ground.  The loop repeats until Popeye lets go of Olive's hand and flies off screen.
Next scene: Popeye lands in a trough full of liquid.  There's bags of cement next to the trough... oh, no.  Say it isn't so.  Popeye's completely submerged, and air bubbles start erupting from the spot where Popeye's head must be.  When he gargles like that, he sounds like Wimpy!  What gives?  Bluto comes up and waits for Popeye to climb out of the trough.  He holds a bag of the cement aloft and smites Popeye with it, and before you know it... yup, Popeye calcifies just as he's about to punch Bluto.  Oh, the irony.  Bluto enjoys a good laugh, and poses Popeye just to rub it in a little more.  The orchestra seems to be on Bluto's side as well!  More salt in the wound.  If this isn't time for Act Three, nothing is...


Next scene: the Justice of the Peace's office.  Gee, you'd think they'd want to make that a little closer to the Matrimonial Agency, but whatever.  Gotta kill time somehow in these movie contraptions.  Up the steps go Bluto and Olive.  Maybe it's a bad omen that Olive's feet get stuck on the railings on the way up, or just a really good metaphor.  But irony is usually lost on Bluto, and he powers through the situation, but ends up getting knocked on the floor by Olive.  Bluto stands up and shakes himself to full consciousness like a dog stepping out of a brook. 
Boy, Bluto just bosses everybody around, doesn't he?  "UP ON YER FEET!" he tells Olive.  He then picks up Justice of the Peace J. Wellington Wimpy by the scruff of his fat neck while he's still dining on a hamburger from his usual pile, of course.  "WE WANNA GET MARRIED IN A HURRY!" bellows Bluto.  Wimpy obliges, of course, just like Vegas.  Good thing gluttony's not a sin!  And so, with family and friends of neither the bride's family nor the groom's family present, the bride and groom and Justice of the Peace walk towards the altar, with a decrepit version of "Here Comes the Bride" playing in the background.  God bless heterosexual marriage!  Tis a fine veneer of legitimacy for swingers.
Is Popeye out of the game?  I mean... story?  Well, let's get back to him to find out.  As it happens, only his feet are free from the prison of concrete the rest of his body is trapped in, so he tiptoes his way to freedom.  Freedom in the form of a giant masher slamming an iron girder into the ground.  God bless construction sites!  Is there any more suitable location for cartoons?  I think not.  Popeye quickly tiptoes under it before it comes down again.  Lol.  It comes down and shatters Popeye's concrete exoskeleton.  Alas, Popeye enjoys his freedom for too long in the wrong place, and he gets hit by the masher a second time.  Popeye shrinks to about a quarter of his original size, and the masher's not doing too good either.  OSHA will hear of this!  Meantime, Popeye takes off for the Justice of the Peace's office as fast as his new stumpy legs will carry him... which is decidedly not that fast.  But who knows?  Maybe he'll make it in time.
As it happens, there's plenty of time.  The slow march up the aisle is in progress, and Popeye has slowed his pace out of respect to that.  He reaches into his back for a can of spinach.  The spinach senses Popeye's new-fangled lack of height, and after the first mouthful, Popeye starts getting ratcheted up to normal height like an old-timey car jack.
Next scene: Wimpy's at his podium, with Olive and Bluto standing in front of him.  Popeye politely asks Bluto to hold his can of spinach so he can take another bite and beat the sh... stuffing out of Bluto.  Bluto obliges, of course... twice!  What a goof.  Surely, Bluto's beating will be a little more epic than that?  It gets better.  Next scene: a "shot" of the length of the church, and all the chairs look like they're not part of the permanent background!  Oh, this is going to be good.  Popeye decks Bluto, and he flies towards the far wall, taking all the chairs in his path with him.  BRILLIANT!  Bluto flies right back like the thingie in one of those "Test Your Strength" games.  Popeye then enhances his fist by putting a roll-top desk on it like a giant boxing glove.  Well, you don't see that every day, you gotta give him that.  Popeye hits Bluto with the desk.  Bluto's head is sticking out of the writing portion of it, and he sneers at Popeye, "Ya missed me!"  So, Popeye closes the roll-top part on Bluto's neck, and that shuts him up... no pun intended.


And so, Popeye takes Bluto's place at the altar.  God bless traditional marriage between a woman and whichever man gets there last!  We get the short version of the vows, seeing as how there's only 40 seconds left.  "Do you take this man?" Wimpy asks Olive.  "I do!" says Olive.  "Do you take this woman?" Wimpy asks Popeye.  Popeye pauses, asking "Huh?"  Olive lifts her veil to reveal that her makeup got a little bit messy during the struggle to get over to the Justice of the Peace's office.  "I DO NOT!" bellows Popeye, and he leaps out the window, even crashing the glass in order to get the hell out of there that much faster.  Geez, but men are so fickle.
And so, just like that Spinal Tap song, Popeye has discovered in his travels that life's better in a hellhole.  Folks lend a hand!  You know where you stand!  Why, he climbs up its outer walls to get back to his away-from-work cubicle.  He re-dons his apron and gets back to work on his bowl of pancake batter, or whatever the hell it is.  However, I don't think he's quite ready to return to the single life.  He mixes that batter until it fills the entire screen!  Lol.  He needs to get a wife to clean the mess up!  Meantime, the ending lyrics are "I yam what I yam, and I'm be what I yam... I'm POPEYE THE SAILOR MAN!!"  Another classic.

-so sayeth The Movie Hooligan

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