Wednesday, July 23, 2014

At the Corner of Ford and Sexism

Our next Popeye short is called... hoh boy.  It's called Wimmin Hadn't Oughta Drive.  I know, I know... such atrocious spelling.  The Popeye shorts didn't start out this way! ... I stand corrected.  Oh, and they were way way more politically incorrect.
But let's dive right into the plot.  Things have changed a lot since the days of The Spinach Roadster.  The novelty of owning a car, any piece of.... junk car has grown commonplace.  Now it's a matter of having the latest and greatest.  Popeye now has a slick-looking car, not as long as the one that Bluto had in Roadster, but with a similar exterior.  The engine, however, is one that he probably feels at home with: it sits in a bath of fluid!  And so, he picks up Olive and they head off for a drive.
Now, as with all these Popeye shorts, the main characters start off with a blank slate.  Olive's driven before, but she doesn't seem to know it here.  She wants her turn at the wheel, and resorts to ultimatums to get her way.  Being a gentleman, Popeye naturally gives in to Olive's wishes and she takes over.
She has a little trouble at first.  It's a stick shift, so that takes some getting used to.  I tell you one thing, she did a lot better than I ever did with a stick shift!  God, I hate those things.  Isn't driving hard enough as it is?  Maybe I'm a philistine for thinking so, but so be it.
Next challenge: turning the car.  Popeye's got the teacher attitude, but he's really just a bad teacher.  He tells Olive that when you turn, "You put your hand out!"  After the crash, Olive helpfully says "I put my hand out, but the car didn't turn!"  Popeye's also not terribly good at impending tragedies.  Look how he handles this one!  Eventually, he takes matters into his own hands, especially when he turns the body of the car around.
As you can imagine, things get out of hand quickly.  Popeye has to jump out of the car to lift up a policeman directing traffic as Olive drives by.  See, he says "Give me the wheel" and... oh, never mind.  Anyhow, I think this is a first: here, Popeye takes out his can of spinach, but doesn't eat it right away.  Olive's headed up a dangerous mountain road at this point in the film.  Popeye has enough strength to run ahead of the car, but apparently not enough to stop it.  So, spoiler alert: Popeye gets to the very tip-top edge of the road and, just before Olive's about to drive right off the mountain, Popeye eats the spinach and instantly turns into a giant rock that stops the car when the car lightly crashes into it.  Just remember, kids: procrastination is bad... but it can also be quite cinematic.
As for the ending, well... Wimmin Hadn't Oughta Drive was made in 1940.  America hadn't entered into World War II left, and I think nice cars were still a luxury item at this point, so the masses always liked to see movie stars getting into car wrecks, and even when it was on the silver screen, too!  As for Popeye cartoons, the template was set.  Note the endings of Taxi-Turvy (1954) and Car-azy Drivers (1955).  All three involve a close-up shot, then pulling back to a wider shot, showing how Popeye and Olive opt for less technologically dangerous means of travel.  A classic... I guess.

Good triple bill with: Car-azy Drivers and Taxi-Turvy

-so sayeth The Movie Hooligan

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