Tuesday, November 25, 2014

The Mighty Navy II

Our next Popeye cartoon is called Blunder Below and it tells the story of what happened after Popeye went to the casino buffet and... I'm sorry, it's actually a virtual remake of The Mighty NaVy but with a few slight differences, the largest one being that the enemy has definitely been named now... I think it's supposed to be the Japanese.  They do have the sun flag with the rays... anyway, let's dive into it, so to speak.  I feel like keeping this one short.


Rather than learning the various functions of the whole ship, this one focuses on the anti-submarine guns of a battleship.  Popeye once again finds himself the lone brown-eyed brunette amidst an army of blond, blue-eyed... I mean, tall, muscular sailors who all look like the quarterback of their college football team.  As usuelle, Popeye's a cylinder having trouble fitting into this square peg they call the modern navy... ooh, almost forgot.  A cloud salutes the American navy ship as it passes.  Always with the visual gags, those Fleischer brothers.
I know people always complain about the jibberish in these movie classroom settings, but maybe I just don't watch the right movies or something.  This seems to be some real stuff here about this anti-sub gun!


This doesn't seem to break down well in terms of the three Act structure.  Act Two involves target practice, much like The Mighty Navy before it.  Apparently, these guns are on an extending mechanism like old phones used to be... what are those called again?  They seem to be hidden so that the enemy will think the ship is more harmless than it actually is, but apparently the shooter sits in the gun, the gun pops out of its hole in the ship, you fire the gun, then the gun goes back into place.  Ah, sometimes I wish I was an engineer.  We have one of the automaton sailors demonstrate the gun first, then Popeye gives the gun a try, and all hell breaks loose.  For some reason, I don't find it as funny as I should when the gun gets pointed at Popeye's commanding officer.
And so, Popeye and the gun start galloping all over the ship.  This gag must've killed in showings with just sailors.  To be fair, Popeye does hit the bullseye on the target.  He unfortunately also sinks the ship hauling the target.  It's a comedy sinking, of course, and everyone survives and swims safely back to the battleship.
Act Two and a Half: the bitter, bitter aftermath.  Popeye and his commanding officer head down to the engine room where they dump coal into one of the boilers.  Spoiler alert: There's a good gag where it seems like, for a second there, that the officer is going to shovel Popeye into the boiler... but no.  Popeye's crime against the navy wasn't that severe.  Have they forgotten that he's an emblem, for Christ sake?  No, it's time for some grueling manual labor.  Not as tear-raising as slicing onions, but still.  Popeye's gifts are once again squandered by the navy on menial tasks.  The boiler fire pants like a dog, lol.


...well, that didn't take long!  Popeye shoveled only two loads of coal, and the ship's under attack.  Somehow the enemy is displeased at Popeye's demotion, but they'll be sorry later on!  Once again, the clean-cut sailors couldn't hit the broad side of an enemy sub, for God's sake!  And once again, Popeye sticks his head out the porthole to get a better look, but the enemy's not shelling his head yet.  Popeye does, however, run afoul of an enemy periscope.  Popeye gives the periscope a good punch in its eye for good measure, then he... he congas out of the ship's window!  The callback!  Popeye ends up having to lift up a part of the ship when an enemy... I'm sorry, emeny torpedo heads towards it.  But where's his parade?  Be patient, dear reader... we'll get to that part soon enough.  Popeye heads up to the main deck, gives a twist to that old phrase about regretting that one has but one life to give for their country... does he call the submarine a "skunk-marine"?  Oh well.
And so, Popeye holds aloft a particularly leafy can of spinach.  Note the tiny leaves, the deep grey color.  Popeye downs the can, doesn't make his usual funny eating noises, then holds his arm aloft.  The muscle turns into... war bonds or something.  American Imperialism is armed and ready to strike.  Popeye jumps out of his sailor uniform and, in only his polka-dot briefs, dives into the brine to take on that sub all by his spinached-up self.
There's one part where Popeye spins the sub around, and the sub looks like it's in 3D, but other than that, the sub doesn't stand a chance.  "So sorry!" says the Japanese caricature within said sub.  Well, Popeye punches that dude the second time he tries to pull that stuff.  It's post-Pearl Harbor time and the fun and games are over for now.  There's a war to win.  Popeye's fellow sailors cheer as he hauls that sub in as though it were a mere shark.


And so, the commanding officer who once fought with Popeye is now lavishing him with all kinds of medals.  The officer even gets to do Popeye's ending song, more or less!  He's not much of a singer, you see.  This is one of those cartoons that must have done well with crowds back in '42, but jingoism like this has a short shelf life.  Hopefully the plot formula will be a little different by the time we get to the ones where the Japanese are referenced in the titles, hoh boy.....

-so sayeth The Movie Hooligan

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