Friday, September 06, 2013

Stop Calling, Stop Calling, I Don't Wanna Talk Any More

Well, sometimes you gotta go for the Lady Gaga reference, am I right?  Anyway, if David Mamet had to pick two major influences on cinema, I think he'd say the president of the United States (everything from Absolute Power to Eagle Eye) and technology.  He probably wouldn't cite Hold the Wire as a good example of technology's influence, but I would, damn it.  And why?  Because I just saw it, that's why!  What other reason is there in this ADD-afflicted world of ours?
The best example comes at the end when Popeye and Olive are swaying back and forth on top of a telephone pole.  Popeye sings his usual variation on the ending theme and toots his pipe twice.  Now, normally that's the end of the cartoon, but this time we get a few extra seconds of people on the phone shouting for the operator.  I know, I know, it's just their voices coming through exposed wires, and that this is highly dubious at best and criminally negligent at worst.  Cartoons keep finding new ways to insult our intelligence, dontcha think?  But the larger point I was trying to make is that technology changes things (THINGS CHANGE!!!!!!), like the normally rigid plot structure of a Popeye cartoon.  These days they end with the words "go to" or something like that... incidentally, where do you go on the web to find Popeye's official e-home?  Time to get distracted by something else.  Apparently there's at least three different web homes for Popeye, as you would expect, but by far has the most state-of-the-art looking web page of the three.
Oh, right.  The plot.  I always remembered this one because Popeye was talking quietly on the phone and he says to Olive "Gee, Olive, you're the berries."  Oh, the things that stick in the brain's craw.  Anyway, Olive's up to her usual tricks, reading "Love and More Love" Magazine.  Popeye calls her up on the phone, but she's not interested, saying to Popeye that he's just not romantic enough.  Well, Olive's memory just isn't good enough!  How do you like that?  There's nothing Popeye can't do with a little spinach.  She seems to forget that.
Meanwhile, Bluto comes walking along, flowers in hand, and he can't help but overhear Olive's phone conversation.  Popeye sounds like he's talking into a coffee can, lol.  At this crucial juncture, Bluto decides to take technology into his own hands.  He downright shimmies up the telephone pole, once again to the music of the old snake charmer.  When it comes to breaking up Olive and Popeye, Bluto is indeed an obese snake in the grass.  Bluto fiddles with the telephone wires and is somehow able to intercept Popeye's call.  He imitates Popeye and says insulting things to Olive.  It's WarGames and Ferris Bueller all rolled into one, I tells ya.  ...I just dated myself, didn't I?  Surely there's someone other than Matthew Broderick in movies that's synonymous with hacking?  The only other one I can think of is the pasty young lead in Hackers (1995), but that's it.
Alas, Bluto has too much fun imitating Popeye, and Popeye has time enough to run to Olive's house.  Popeye calls to Olive through her window, and she gets to see what Bluto was up to.  Popeye then climbs up the telephone pole to kick some ass.  This Popeye short's probably got the funniest example of a time when Popeye and Bluto hit each other, then have to regain their balance.  Four stars.  This one needs to be brought into the fold of that short list of Popeye classics.  It's been out of the fold for far too long.

-so sayeth The Movie Hooligan

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