A Dream Walking all over again, complete with the gravitational pull to a construction site, Popeye having his moment of unconsciousness, and Olive getting upset after waking and seeing Popeye. But I suppose there are enough differences to warrant the full treatment, so let's just dive right into it.
Scene: the offices/residence of Professor I. Stare... hmm! That's more of a Three Stooges gag, isn't it? Well, first names that start with an 'i' are naturally funnier, as any comedian will tell you. Eventually, after the introductions, we get to meet this professor that we've heard so much, yet seen so little... about! At first, you think it's Bluto in disguise. From the view outside the apartment, he seems to be acting like Bluto, looking out the window nervously then quickly shutting the shades. His days of standing proudly on the streetcorner smoking a manly stogie are long behind him. But then... we get inside the apartment and... yeah, that's probably not him. Maybe it's his short, thin cousin! They've got the same bearded face, that's for sure. Must've been a writer's strike that week.
Poor guy. Even his fish thinks he's an a... kind of a jerk. And so, as Reuben Abel once wrote, man is the measure. Any two bit hustler can hypnotize a fish. A real supervillain gets an army of zombies to do his bidding! TO THE PHONE BOOK!
...oh and, what's with the cat in the bird cage? Lol. Always with the visual jokes, these cartoon peoples. The bad guy is voiced by the multi-talented voice actor Billy West... well, kinda sounds like it, anyhow. And so, after pacing to and fro a little in front of the wall phone in his apartment, the muse strikes him and he grabs the phone book. He's not quite as far gone as this guy, but close. And would you believe it? The first name he points to is ... wait for it... Olive Oyl! Shock upon shock. Clearly the hypnotist is under the filmmakers' control.
Cross-fade to Olive's place. We see Olive on one end of the couch, bashful as ever. Popeye's on the right, cramming for the big exam. What exam is that, you ask? Trying to come up with the right words to woo Olive. Shakespeare's the go-to guy for that, of course. If you listen closely you can hear Popeye mumble "Romeo, O Romeo, wherefore art thou Romeo? Parting is such sweet sorrow, etc. etc." Can't go wrong with the bard's greatest hits! And so, Popeye launches into it. "Olive Oyl, O Olive Oyl... what's in a name?" I won't spoil the rest of it, lol. I think it's worth it though. Olive's legs twitch at about 1:43 or so. Sloppy work, guys. Sloppy work.
And then... the modern world gets in the way. It usually does. Oh, what did we ever do before answering machines? She's obviously just not that into you, Popeye, if she gets up to go to the phone like that. Olive smacks his head on the arm of the couch. Olive answers the phone, saying in her best Southern twang, "Hello! Miss Olive Oyl's residence!"
And so, it begins. The first telemarketer is born. I think Og Mandino wrote a book or to about that. Love that guy. This Professor Stare must be stopped! His over-the-phone hypnotism works! I think Peter Gabriel's got another song about that. Then there was this one that was used in some phone commercials a long time ago. Why not? Then of course, there's this by Reba McIntyre... McEntire? Remember, this was before Wikipedia! They must've used this on Sesame Street at some point. Well, kids are a lot more jaded these days.
And so, Professor Stare's zombie army of one is on the move. Worse yet, Olive's gait has a catchy percussion beat to it. Popeye watches as Olive grabs her hat and walks out the door. He goes over to the phone to inveski-ma-gate. He hears the professor over the phone. His pipe falls under the spell, but somehow it just doesn't do anything for Popeye proper. "My garsh! A hypnotisk!" exclaims Popeye. Maybe I've got no memory for these things, but I think this is the first instance where Popeye uses the word "garsh." ...nah, Wikipedia's not going to back me up on that. Time for Popeye to spring into action.
Next scene: Olive walks along and goes through an intersection. Traffic's a lot fiercer now in the 40s than it was in the 30s. Hypnotized Olive makes it across, of course, but conscious Popeye has a little harder time. He ends up in the back of a taxi... lol. Oh, that is so based on someone's bitter experience. Popeye reluctantly pays the driver and says "Get that hole in your roof fixed!!" He's just having a bad day in general, no question.
And now, the transition into A Dream Walking begins in earnest, as hypnotized Olive is carried aloft on the thinnest of platforms raised skyward. Lagging behind, all Popeye can do is watch in horror. He closes the gap between buildings to keep Olive from dropping, then starts to climb up to her. "She's a victim of circum-trances!" says Popeye in yet another ode to the Stooges in general and Curly in particular.
Next scene: by the time Popeye lifts himself up to the top of the building with his pipe, Olive's already found her way to a wire between buildings. Is she nuts? Where's her pole for balance? What if a gust of wind suddenly picks up?!! What, is she hypnotized or something?... oh, right. Just before the wire breaks, Popeye grabs onto the other end of it. It's attached to a specific phone, of course. So not only does Popeye have to hang on to the wire to keep Olive from falling, he has to do battle with a combative operator on the phone. I haven't heard Popeye so bashful and tongue-tied lately! I mean... ah, skip it. But like any mediocre debater, Popeye latches on to the operator's words when she says "hold the line." Oh, that tears it. Plus, Olive's already made it over to the other side. Time to play catch-up. And once again, Popeye's barely one step ahead of gravity... if only there were some sort of blog that went over these Popeye cartoons exhaustively.
Popeye has finally caught up and tries to speak to Olive to wake her up. No dice. The powerful spell of Professor Stare has taken root. Will nothing break it? In Popeye's desperation, he doesn't notice that another gap between buildings is coming up, and so he falls but catches himself and, thanks to all the pilates he's done in his life, he quickly raises his feet up so Olive can use him as a human bridge to walk across. So, gravity's been kind to Popeye up til now, but Mother Nature's clearly displeased. Time for a plague of birds to attack! The birds annoy Popeye at first, but eventually he slips and catches himself on an awning below. Now he's paying homage to Buster Keaton's Seven Ages, I believe it's called... The Three Ages, forgive me.
Concurrently, a swinging hook carries Olive into the construction site proper, and about damn time, too. Popeye eventually catches up, and I like how he just barely grabs the hook. Well, sometimes you gotta give the animators a little break. There's just no stopping that hook's mischief, however, and in a moment of small genius, the hook grabs on to a brick chimney. The chimney breaks off, it swings back and DING! Popeye gets hit in the head... I mean, bang bang, the Fleischer's silver chimney came down upon Popeye's head. There's dazed regaining of proper footing, there's the proverbial bird whistle and then... equanimity is complete. Popeye's now in a trance, walking at Olive's tempo. There's a near collision, but Popeye tips his hat to Olive. Being unconscious is no reason to not be cordial, for God's sake!
Okay, so there's at least one difference between the instant case and A Dream Walking. The way Popeye is awoken from his trance here is quite different from the other one. Here, he just misses stepping onto a girder, in another moment of quiet genius, plummets to the ground and lands in a garbage can full of cats. A lot more painful... or is it? Maybe waking up after bumping into Bluto, then getting into a giant Fist Tornado with the guy is more painful. Clearly I'm no expert.
And so, Popeye is awoken and, to his horror, he finally gets an eyeful of Professor Stare. Olive's walking along more window ledges again, but this time it's on Stare's building. That tears it. It's so spinach time. This time, Popeye's can of spinach has a giant capital 's' on it. Hmm! The 's' rips off the can and lands on Popeye's chest. Double hmm!!! I think the Fleischers are finally putting two and two together.
And so, Professor Stare turns his attention to this other wannabe alpha-male, sending the hypno-waves Popeye's way, but Popeye punches every last one into submission. Popeye ends up unfurling the Professor's headgear, and Professor Stare ends up waving like a flag from the flagpole... hmm. This probably qualifies as one of those unfortunate stereotypes the DVD warns us about that were rampant in those days. We must always remember that hypnotists are equal in the eyes of the law... something like that.
Okay, so the bad guy's been defeated. But what about Olive? Well, she's on top of a water tower... how'd she get up there?!!! So many unanswered questions. And so, in yet another homage to Buster Keaton, Popeye ties some of the turban's cloth around his waist, grabs Olive as she falls. In the twist, however, Popeye swings over to a vertical flagpole and slides down to ground level. And so, back to waking Olive up. Even though Professor Stare's been defeated, the spell remains. What to do? What to do? In Popeye's desperation, he slaps Olive on the face. Olive wakes up and lightly reprimands Popeye. Clearly the days of Wild Elephinks are long gone, and for good reason.
Well, this one's more Disney-fied than its predecessor, I'll give you that. The animation's much more slick.
-so sayeth The Movie Hooligan