Thursday, December 18, 2014

Citron Tide

Our next Popeye short takes us back to the shipyard after the stopover at the corner of Four Brats and Spinach.  We haven't seen Olive in a while, but I seem to recall four weeks ago seeing her Bolivian counterpart, Olivita... something like that.  Too lazy to look it up.  Anyway, the promise of Olive is inherent in the slightly misogynist title, Olive Oyl and Water Don't Mix.  Why, she's an excellent swimmer!... isn't she?


Oh, and I failed to notice that Jack Mercer, the voice of Popeye for about some 40 odd years, also gets story credit for this... whew!  Just his second credit.  ...Eggs Don't Bounce!  Love it!  Title par excellence.  Anyway, he gets story credit for eight total of the shorts I'm going to look at.  That's all I need to know.
Anyway, Bluto tries a new tactic on Popeye... or does he?  Bluto's complaining about dames in general, and about not being able to stand on streetcorners smoking cigars in particular... oh, wait, he's not.  I was just having a flashback to Wotta Nitemare.  See, he doesn't realize that he's nothing but trouble.  But you know how it is.  It's all the dame's fault.  From Eve on.  Still, no mention of Olive in this conversation!  What male whores!  And so, in this moment of fraternity and weakness, Bluto and Popeye agree to "never have nuttin' to do with dames no more"... something like that.  Hands are shaked.  But just before that, Olive comes aboard the ship.  How instantly do you think all that goes out the window?  ...about five seconds?  LOVE IT!!!!!!!!!!!!  I must be in a good mood tonight.
Well, the official Olive Oyl and Water Don't Mix page got that right, but we still don't know who the voice of Bluto is this time.  Why, he sounds like a cornfed hick, for God's sake!  The Fleischers seemed to have trouble retaining vocal talent... probably because they never get any CREDIT!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!  Oh well.  Live and learn, as Alanis Morrisette taught us all.  And... yup!  Handshake at 1:17, and then about 1:22, the two spot Olive... I mean, the gruesome twosome notice that Olive's talking to them.  She asks "Which one of you boys wants to show me around the ship?"  "Why, at your soivice, lady!" coos Bluto.  I guess these anti-women pledges are easier to form in the absence of women.
This is probably a good place to go to Act Two, but there's still the initial dispute to settle.  Only one of these alpha males ... sorry, I mean α males is going to escort the lady around the big ol' battleship.  For a brief moment, Bluto and Popeye have their faces and hats mashed together, and their hats look like one hat.  Lol.  Eventually, Bluto decides to spin Olive like a bottle on the main deck... you know, in a "gentlemanly" manner.  That oughta eat up a little time!  To Bluto's dismay, however, she ends up pointing at Popeye.  Bluto fixes that, though... I hate to spoil it, but I must admit that I like the way the result was animated.  Must've been rotoscoped.


And so, Bluto starts the process of showing Olive around the ship.  But before that happens, the difference between the sexes already creates a conflict.  Olive assumes that the ship caters to her interests, and mistakes the door labeled "Powder Room" for where she can do a couple lines of... I mean, adjust her makeup.  Alas, Bluto quickly stops her from going in.  We're saving the big explosion for the Third Act.  Bluto demonstrates the spotlight with giant Venetian blinds in front of it for signaling... screw the actual term for that.  It's either "giant Venetian blinds" or it's a cucaloris.  I don't care what the Navy calls it... okay, Bluto calls it the "signal light blinker."  Left the closed-captioning on; too lazy to turn it off.
Meanwhile, Popeye views all this action from afar.  He must intervene before Bluto gets to second base.  Welp, all Popeye's "training" from the previous navy-themed films must have paid off, because Popeye lets himself into the gun room, and he starts moving the cannons in a way that brings Olive up to his level on one of the upper decks.  Bluto looks around and, even though he didn't see what happened, he knows right away that "that shiftless little runt" Popeye is behind this turn of events... sorry, that's "chiseling", not "shiftless".  Double-checked the closed captioning.  Take that, YouTube!
Next scene: know, it's not often that Bluto is able to turn Popeye's superhuman strength against him, especially during the big fight at the end, so here's something a little different.  Popeye shows the ship's propellors to Olive... by lifting the front of the ship up and bending it in half.  And by God, there they are.  Two propellors.  A sight to behold.  Popeye blows on the propellors and they spin round.  And then... after Bluto has climbed into the engine room up near the crow's nest, Bluto turns them on.  A mighty gust of wind pins Popeye to the wall (...the closed captioning doesn't even try to decipher Popeye's mumblings this time... lol), but is less harsh on Olive.  Olive ends up by Bluto's side once again... lucky guy... and it's time for another demonstration.
And so, Bluto ends up pointing a gun right at Olive's head.  What could possibly go wrong?  Funny story... well, even though the gun's not loaded, it can still wreak some havoc.  And wreak it does!  For you see, Olive's head gets stuck in it.  The barrel's just barely larger than Olive's head, but stuck she is, ne'theless.  Panicked, Bluto grabs a giant tamping wand and hits Olive's head in a desperate attempt to get her out.  Popeye finally extricates himself from under the angry wind of the ship's propellers and is now by Olive's side.  Unfortunately for Olive, Popeye's philosophy is that Olive needs to go all the way through the gun to get her head out.  Bluto and Popeye struggle on in this vein until... had to double check how it came out.  Popeye prevailed, pushing Olive through the gun, and with such force that Bluto is knocked quite backwards.  "Why, dat one-eyed Casanova!" exclaims Bluto, picking himself up.
Apparently the inside of the gun has giant screw threads in it.  Seems a little strange to me, but I'm no sailor.  I've never seen a torpedo or a shell in person, but I've never seen one with screw threads.  But never mind; Olive is now shaped like the tail part of the screw... I'm no engineer either, so I'm unfamiliar with the technical names for the three parts of a screw.  I'll stop saying 'screw' after I point out that Popeye "unscrews" Olive, making her Olive-shaped once again.  The closed captioning informs me that Popeye mumbled "She looks like a shell looking for an assault!"  Uck uck uck indeed.
And so, with Olive returned to normal physical form, thinner than even Keira Knightley, and trust me, girls, you don't want to be much thinner than that... Popeye and Olive put their heads together and find themselves smitten.  See, these three get a clean mental slate with every new Popeye short, so it would seem.  And how do I know they were meant for each other?  Well, Popeye tells Olive "Gee, you're awful pretty" and Olive responds with "Oh, you're pretty awful yourself!"  Then again, Olive is a little flirty, as she ends up head to head with Bluto in the next instant!
But it's not the end of the pic yet, and these animated one-reelers typically aren't romances anyway.  They're comedies, damn it, and it's time to laugh again!  Still swooning, Olive heads down an inappropriately placed staircase, leaving Bluto and Popeye holding hands... thereby informing that one scene from Planes, Trains and Automobiles... as well as a similar scene in Cabin Boy, a mere seven years later.  One double take later, Bluto punches Popeye, sending him flying into ... a giant horn?  I'm not even going to try anymore.  You know, Indiana Jones hid in one briefly in Raiders.  Here on the battle cruiser, they're not terribly deep.


It must be time for Act Three.  It's about the two thirds mark in the proceedings!  Bluto catches up to Olive again and... yes!!!  Recurring gag time!  There's that darned powder room again.  All Olive wants to do is tidy up a bit!  Is that so much to ask?  Well, Bluto's not much for explaining things, and he just hustles Olive along to the ship's next "gadget."  This time, a demonstration of... the airplane catapult.  Ah, the early days of aviation.  Now, here's an example of where that famous Donald Rumsfeld line might actually work, because during WWII, we went to war with the airplane technology that we had, and not the jet planes that we might have liked to have had!  Of course, the economics of jet technology put an end to the brief kamikaze age... but I'll save that for my doctoral work.
And so, Olive stands on the platform that launches the planes, while Bluto shows her how the levers work that launch the planes... what could possibly go wrong?  And so, one boing sound later, Olive's flying around in the sky, the way William Goldman envisioned children flying around in the air as an opening for The Great Waldo Pepper.  It would have been a fine opening for the film where Susan Sarandon ends up falling off of a plane, and where Robert Redford punches out Edward Herrmann so that he'll stop screaming as he's burned alive from his fiery plane crash.  Sorry, back to this cartoon.  And so, Olive flies around and around, and comes down close to the "camera," thereby inspiring the leftmost of the five images on the inside sleeve of the DVD package... that's odd!  The third and fourth ones I don't remember!  Maybe they're on Disc Two or sumpthing.
And so, Olive ends up dangling from two wires high above the deck by her giant feet.  The twanging noise will be used in all future Popeye cartoons.  Bluto and Popeye try to climb up the same pole at the same time, but they're all too aware of each other, unlike the cats in A Gruesome Twosome when they make their first ascent to get the teentsy weentsy bird that would later come to be known as Tweety.  Bluto and Popeye throw some rather elastic punches at one another.  Bluto ultimately prevails and keeps climbing to save Olive... man, he must have a lot of muscles.  Look at that fat boy climb!  There isn't even a ladder on that thing!
Popeye falls into a rowboat and quickly and furiously rows around to the other side of the ship.  You know, where there's a ladder.  What a wuss.  Steven Seagal could climb up the side of that boat ALL BY HIMSELF!  And he's just a cook!  Anyway, Bluto must not be climbing very fast, because after all that, Popeye is already back at Bluto's side... yada yada yada.  And a bunch of other stuff happens.
This finale is downright action-packed!!!!  And it appears that there's not even going to be any spinach!  I feel robbed somehow.  Well, sailors are probably not allowed to bring their own rations aboard, especially when it's visitors day.  Anyway, unlike A Dream Walking, where the efforts of Popeye and Bluto ultimately did no harm to Olive, their shenanigans end up doing harm to Olive, as she ends up falling into the ship's largest steam pipe.


Olive's all covered with soot and... naughty naughty!  We're getting into a little blackface territory here.  Anyway, Olive ends up next to that darned old Powder Room.  "Oh, I simply must tidy up a bit!"  Unfortunately, this particular powder room has no lights.  Fortunately... or unfortunately, depending on your POV, Olive has a match and... yup, the second largest explosion I've ever seen in a Popeye cartoon.  The first being in The Mighty NaVy.  Well, I just examined both of them carefully.  They appear to be slightly different!  I guess it's a little bit easier to animate explosions, I guess.  The one in Mighty Navy lasts a lot longer and the billowing grey clouds come at us more ferociously somehow.  With Don't Mix, it doesn't last as long, and we get a shot of Olive's clothes flying into the air.  A few seconds later, Olive joins them, and don't worry, it's tastefully done.  Hays Code approved, what not.
As for the boys?  Well... we miss the part where the M.P.s escort them to the brig.  But in the brig they end up.  They needed a better lawyer.  Or higher ranks or something.  "As I was sayin'..." begins Bluto... you can guess the rest pretty much, except that Popeye uses his foot this time to shake hands.  Well, thank God this cartoon wasn't written by Norm MacDonald, because there would definitely be a mention of prison rape.

-so sayeth The Movie Hooligan

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