We start with Popeye, yodeling in the snow. To be honest, he's terrible at it, but he gives it his all. As the best yodelers among us know, it's always important to stretch out your neck like a turtle when you yodel. Being a cartoon character, Popeye's got an unfair advantage. And... why, look! Popeye's sometime friend Bluto is trudging along in the snow and yodeling as well! Well, the fighting will start soon enough. It always does.
Next scene: they get to a cabin in the snow. It's Olive's place! Go figure. Oh, those two have a one-track mind. They're both standing outside the window. Bluto calls to Olive first, then Popeye. Olive opens the window and says "Oh, hello, boys!" It's time for some singing. Popeye starts singing a rousing rendition of "Won't You Climb the Mountain With Me." I'll leave it to the historians among us to figure out if that's an actual song, or one of the Fleischers' own devising.
And so, Popeye and Bluto invite the fickle Olive to go mountain climbing through the medium of song. But whom to pick? Olive uses the old, time-honored "Eeny Meeny Miney Moe" process... but perhaps she knew all along she wanted to go with Popeye. Reminds me of that Seinfeld episode where Jerry picks Costanza with "Ink-a-Dink." Must be an East coast thing. I'll leave it to the Seinfeld freaks among us to figure out what episode that's from... hint: The Statue.
"Good choice, Olive!" Popeye mutters to Olive as she steps out into the snow through her window. Popeye tells Bluto "Sorry, old pal. Bet-ter luck next time!" I like the way he split up the word "better." Popeye extends his hand in friendship. Bluto takes it, and punches Popeye head first into the snow, enjoying a hearty laugh. Olive was already on her way, but she doubles back to dig Popeye out of the snow. "You're just a sore loser!" he tells Bluto. The ass-kicking is a mere five minutes off, I'm afraid. But Bluto isn't prepared to write himself off just yet. This isn't nature, after all! Bluto fancies himself the alpha male, and he's going to try changing Olive's mind. As in Sindbad the Sailor, after he gets hit by the falling pieces of telescope, Bluto says "Whyyyyy..... I'LL fix him!!"
Next scene: Popeye and Olive get to the mountain proper. "Oh, we're going to have a swell time," coos Olive. Now maybe it's just me, but they seem dangerously unprepared to go mountain climbing, dont'cha think? No packs, no particularly wintry clothes... the only equipment to speak of is a length of rope that Popeye ties around Olive's waist. Olive seems a bit concerned about the mountain's steepness, but Popeye reassures her, saying "It's just perpendicular, Olive. Poi-pen-dickalar."
The climbing begins in earnest, and you can tell because the Disney-esque incidental music begins. For shame, Fleischers, for shame. Popeye climbs to a ledge and pulls Olive up. He climbs up to the next ledge and... hmm! It seems to be the same distance as the first ledge! Would the animators by any chance, be cutting a few corners? For shame, Fleischers, for shame. Meanwhile, Bluto arrives at the base of the mountain, saying "Whyyyyyyy......." in his usual way. The part of the mountain he's at has no snow on it, and he looks up and shakes his fist at Popeye and Olive. But... where is he, exactly? In some alternate universe where he can see a Popeye and Olive that we can't? For shame, Fle... okay, Movie Hooligan. Time for a self-intervention. I'm just never going to get through this review if I keep doing that. Anyway, at some point, Bluto starts climbing the mountain himself, to that snake charmer's tune. Boy, he's really shaking his tush! He kinda looks like a snake trying to climb a mountain. I was going to point out that the way Bluto climbs the mountain is kinda gay, but you can see that for yourself. There's just no getting around it.
And so, Popeye has pulled Olive up to three ledges, and rather rudely at that. Just one quick jerk and up she flies to the next ledge. Kinda like I imagine Bluto would've done! But Olive seems to be enjoying herself. They yodel to each other.
And now... my vertigo-afflicted friend would like this part... I mean, this part. Boy! The YouTube's starting to crack down! We get a "3-D" view of the mountain from just above Popeye. Olive's on a ledge far below, and Popeye pulls her up this time, rather than in just one quick jerk. The only difference this time is Bluto is now in the same shot. He's on the ledge far below where Olive just was, and Popeye's rope has ended up in a loop down near Bluto's head. Bluto is in full Machiavelli Mode now as he bites the rope in half (as if he's taking a big bite out of a cow's leg), and ties Popeye's half to a giant rock. Oh, this ain't going to end well... BAM! Yup, right in the head. Popeye tugs so hard on the rock that it flies up and hits him in the back of the head. He's okay, though, just a little bit dizzy. Olive's okay as well; apparently she doesn't get hit by any of the falling pieces of the rock. In fact, she's a bit annoyed, saying "Oh, Popeye, if you aren't the one. Always stringing me along." Huh? No time to ponder that, though, as Bluto makes his move, grabbing on to Olive's ankle. She starts freaking out and screaming, though. Bet Bluto didn't expect that! Or did he? Either way, Bluto has a way with women. It's a way that hasn't been tried for a long, long time, but now that the Battle of the Sexes seems to have become a Race to the Bottom, maybe it seems quaint in comparison, who knows. I don't watch Jersey Shore all that much.
Needles to say, knowledge is power, and Popeye's aware of Bluto now, but it's not yet time for fighting yet. "How did that mountain goat get here?" mumbles Popeye to himself. Popeye makes a lasso out of his end of the rope, and ropes Olive by her left hand. Bluto's holding on to Olive by her left ankle, and Olive's trying to resist. Bluto just doesn't get it, you see. Popeye's solution to this impasse is elegant yet chauvinist, as he gives Olive a good yank, and she goes flying up to Popeye's ledge far above and away from Bluto. Popeye waves at Bluto and yodels "Toodle-ee-oooo!!!" Popeye and Olive continue their ascent. There's apparently no turning back now! Me, I wouldn't have gone in the first place.
Bluto stews on his ledge far below and says "Toodle-ee-ooo, eh?" And so, God is smiling down upon Popeye and Olive, but the Devil's given Bluto a shortcut up to the top of the mountain: there's a cave just inside the mountain's outer crust, for lack of the technical terms at my fingertips. And so, Bluto starts his ascent, and the "camera" follows. As we rise, we get a brief glimpse of Bluto, and in that brief glimpse as he continues his inner climb he says "Hmmm..." Lol. Can't let a moment like that go to waste, I guess!
Suddenly, before you know it, Bluto's above Popeye and Olive! He takes a tree branch and rips it out of its natural place, places it on the ledge and steps on it. See what I mean? Talk about your devilish tricks! Soon enough, Popeye sees the branch, but not the rather large man stepping on it. "Just in the twig of time!" says Popeye. So corny, so dumb, as a once-famous figure skater once said about Disneyland. And then... whoa, dude. Bluto lifts his foot and Popeye falls to what I can only assume is his death. Talk about mean. Epic mean.
We might as well start Act Three here, as numerically it's about right. I mean, the cartoon's 6 minutes 17 seconds long, so Act Three would be starting around 4 minutes 12 seconds, right? Not counting the time of the intro and the ending, of course... anyway, we're starting it at a critical point in the plot, because it's pretty much every mountain climber's nightmare, especially if there's two or more of you, tied to the same rope. I think 2000's Vertical Limit started with such a nightmare. Damn you, Stuart Wilson! NEVER go mountain climbing with that wanker. Point is, Popeye falls and starts to take Olive with him. Thankfully, Olive's feet are quick thinkers... or maybe they're just lucky. Her feet keep her from plummeting down the mountain, as her left foot is clinging to a ledge, and her right is clinging to a tree stump. Popeye's thrashing by his rope far below, but he makes a comedic spring noise to dull the horror. Fortunately, that cold, cold mountain air hasn't slowed Popeye down much, and he quickly climbs back up the rope and over Olive to the relative safety of the ledge. Popeye has to lift Olive from where she was hanging, as a form of rigor mortis seems to have taken hold of her body despite her still being alive. Oh, right, maybe it's that darned old fear of heights!!! Popeye tries to mold Olive back into a normal shape; more specifically, Olive's legs are frozen in place, and Popeye tries to put them close together again, but it's like trying to close a particularly stubborn pair of scissors.
There. All back to normal. Olive's ready to climb again. Good thing for Bluto that they couldn't see him this time!
Next scene: the top of the mountain, or as close to it as cabinbuilders could get. We see Bluto at the tippy top next to a cabin, which is right flush with the mountain's edge. A note to mountain climbers of all stripes: if there's a cabin that close to the edge, do not use that cabin. It may be tempting, it may be too cold out, but I'm pretty sure you'll end up being sorry.
And so, Bluto looks down and sees that Popeye and Olive are almost there. Bluto looks around for something he can use for his next bit of deviltry. Bluto sees a couple of trees... nah, did that trick already. Bluto decides to just hide behind the cabin. He hides... then he sneaks back real quick to grab a pair of skis leaning up against the cabin.
And so, Bluto's completely hidden at this point. Concurrently, Popeye and Olive have finally made it to the top. Popeye gestures to Olive to be quiet, and Popeye looks around for Bluto. Unfortunately, Popeye looks back down the mountain to see where Bluto is. Olive's looking around, and doesn't see Bluto quickly sneaking up on Popeye. Bluto's wearing the skis, and he gives Popeye a good swift kick in the ass with one of them. Well, that just wasn't clever at all! As Popeye's falling to his death for what may be the final, last time, Olive screams and says "Popeye! Watch out!" Er, thanks for the warning, babe, as Alanis Morrisette might say.
Next scene: Popeye's falling to earth at about 9 feet per second squared... something like that. And I'm supposed to be studying physics in the fall. For shame, Movie Hooligan, for shame. Oh, it's well past spinach time. Popeye reaches into a phantom pocket next to his pants pocket, lol, and grabs his ubiquitous can of spinach. Fortunately, the spinach is Superman-grade, and Popeye ends up flying back up towards Olive and Bluto. Just don't let it go to your head, Sailor Man!
Next scene: Bluto sees Popeye flying back up. You can tell because of the lines emanating from his head. Bluto starts skiing down the mountain with Olive in his arms. The Superman powers of the spinach must've just worn off, because Popeye tries climbing up the rope dangling over the side of the mountain, but the rope isn't tied to anything and it quickly ends up flying down the mountain in its own right. Popeye nevertheless gets to the top and slowly runs after the skiing Bluto, lol.
Next scene: Popeye punches a whole tree. The tree flies up into the air, and down comes a pair of skis and a pair of poles. Popeye just uses the poles to launch himself, and now it's a more equal fight. Next scene: Bluto's skiing right along with Olive in his arms. Olive keeps screaming "OH POPEYE! OH POPEYE!!!" Frankly, I don't kow why she bothers with either one of those guys; they do tend to always seem to be together. When suddenly... Olive's feet take control again! Olive slips out of Bluto's grip as her feet stick to the branch of a passing tree. Popeye skis right by her and says "I'LL BE BACK!!!" He's like some kind of termite or something... what's the reference I'm looking for? Anyway, for those of you who never forgave Indiana Jones for leaving Marian Ravenwood tied up in that tent in the desert, is this not a similar situation? Something about the 1930s, I guess.
And so, Bluto and Popeye are skiing side by side now. They survive a huge gap in the mountain, and then they end up in a Hanna-Barbera-esque loop. Kind of a sine wave-shaped split in the mountain, which they follow faithfully. They only have a couple radians of space in which they can really wail on each other, and they of course use the opportunity to their fullest. This loop eventually ends, and Bluto gets a slight advantage over Popeye. It's all pointless, of course, but it's still a little bit exciting, no?
Next scene: a normal stretch of mountain! Thank Goodness! Bluto zips by first, then Popeye about a second and a half behind, who says "Here I come!" Oh, Popeye's out for blood this time. Next scene: more danger. There's a curve on this stretch of the mountain that I sincerely hope no skiier in real life has ever had to deal with. As you can tell from the animation, there's some snow that's going to break off. Bluto passes by and... yup, it breaks off. A little more challenging for Popeye, but he's more than ready for it, but says "Whoa!!!" ne'theless. Okay, Daily Show/Colbert time! Gotta run.
I'm back! Next scene: a ski jump platform. Damn, this cartoon's got everything! Bluto goes on it first, with Popeye a close second. But Popeye's got some serious momentum behind him and he ends up stepping on Bluto's head as they both fly through the air. "I'll be skiin' ya!" says Popeye. Literally! That'd make a great title for the sequel. Next scene: okay, play time's over. Popeye delivers a single punch, and Bluto goes flying through not one, not two... but three tiny snow peaks, leaving behind three Bluto-shaped holes in them. Bluto lands on an ice floe in the middle of the lake. Is he dead? Tune in next week to find out.
Okay, so Bluto's been disposed of, for all intents and purposes of this short... but what about Olive? She's still stuck in that tree. So much for Popeye's promise of coming back to get her! Olive gets out of the tree, but starts slipping on the snow. And even though Popeye's really really far away, he can see what's going on and immediately sets off to be by Olive's side. As often is the case, however, Popeye's all shagged out from his spinach high and he makes a half-assed attempt to get to Olive.
Next scene: A long shot of the mountain, and it's time for some 3-D-ish effects. Olive's engaging in some extreme skiing without skis. Drumroll, please! She navigates a crevass in the mountain on her way down, then she starts falling, and she starts screaming. Screaming even louder when she was trying to free herself from Bluto's manly grip. Poor Mae Questel! She really gave her all in this one. Fortunately, Popeye catches Olive, but he ends up getting buried in the snow. Popeye sticks his head out and sings the ending theme... wait a second! Popeye's got his hands on Olive's ass! Three and a half stars.
Good double bill with: I'll Be Skiing Ya ... maybe