Also, watching Seein' Red, White 'n' Blue on YouTube is the way to go, because it helpfully informs us that it is now a banned cartoon, mostly because of its blatant references to World War II. Cartoons were a lot more surreal back then, I'm assuming because it was easier to traffick in marijuana back then, and that it was all that the animators ever smoked. Especially the ones that worked for Robert Clampett. But seeing it on YouTube with the disclaimer turns it into a bit of a game. Where does the offensiveness begin? A horse with a human foot? A mailman with near-sightedness riding an offensive bicycle? An offensive portrayal of Satan? An offensive attempt to get out of the draft? Sure, they all set off alarms, but not to worry. The comfort of the offenses we're more familiar with aren't too far off.
But I should probably mention the plot. Hey, boy Bluto's back, and he's up to his usual tricks. I dare say he's got some of his wittiest retorts in this one. Bluto eventually receives his letter from the bumbling mailman.
BUT THEN AGAIN... a guy like Taylor Negron could probably get away with it. Mailman Taylor Negron, that I can understand. I mean... it's Taylor Negron, for f... Gawd'z zake! My bro-ham! Alas, the real life Taylor Negron has recently passed on, but I have no doubt he's in Heaven right now, teaching God how to be more douche-y. I mean, where else is he gonna go? He's Taylor freaking Negron, for God's.. for Taylor Negron's sake! I can see it now, his first meeting with God, telling him "Pork pie hat! Do you get out of the house much, dude? Somebody fetch this guy a pork pie hat before it's too late!"
Anyway, Bluto finally gets his letter, and he says to himself, "Now, who do I know that can read?" Ouch. Did Bluto just gain some self-awareness here? But he's ultimately able to decipher the note, and it's not long before he's appealing to the draft board in a wheelchair and foot bath. The head of the Draft Board? ...Popeye? How did that happen? Is this the end of Popeye as a working class hero as we know it? You know, kinda like Homer Simpson is now? When's the last time Homer had money troubles?
To cut to the chase, Bluto's efforts to avoid the draft culminate in dropping a safe upon himself. Dropping himself out of a tall building didn't do the trick somehow. Popeye ends up inside the safe, and Bluto ends up throwing the safe far away. Makes sense in a way; similar thing happened in Draftee Daffy. And then... okay, here we go. Next scene: an orphanage. An orphanage that has been taken over by Japanese soldiers on American soil. Note the "sabotage plan" on the wall, along with a poster for "military secrets." The safe crashes through the wall, and the Japanese soldiers quickly replace the posters with "Rock-a-bye Baby" and "I See the Bunny." Very interesting parallel! Well, kids have a hard enough time learning their ABCs as it is without making time for sabotage. The Japanese soldiers dress up as kids and act like children in order to fool Popeye. The ruse works for a while, but the Japanese soldiers eventually decide that the best course of action is to overwhelm Popeye. Which they do.
Next scene: Bluto sticks his head in through the hole that the safe made in the wall of the orphanage. He's covered in bandages and proudly exclaiming that he got his "exception." Of course, when he sees Popeye getting beat up by a bunch of dirty... enemy soldiers... well, that tears it. NOBODY beats up on Popeye but me! And sure, maybe there's a little patriotism in there, too. Reminds me of that scene from The Rocketeer that only I seem to remember, where old timey gangster Paul Sorvino (Eddie Valentine) says... why, it's right there at the top! Kewl! Let me repeat it anyway. Sorvino's gangster is working for Nazi in hiding Neville Sinclair. "I'm paying you well. Does it really matter where the money comes from?" To which the American gangster replies, "It matters to me. I may not make an honest buck, but I'm 100% American. I don't work for no two-bit Nazi." If that doesn't sum up quite a bit about human nature, I don't know what does. A little bit more succinctly than, say, in Stanley Kubrick's The Shining where Jack (Nicholson) says "I'm a man who likes to know who's buying my drinks, Lloyd!" That Neville Sinclair could learn a thing or two from ol' Lloyd.
Alas, the Japanese are too clever for old Bluto. And apparently Bluto can't see what's going on in the same room, from the way he's tricked. And so, Popeye and Bluto end up in a heap on the floor. It's all Popeye can do to reach into his shirt for the can of spinach. But now is a time for sharing, in this time of rationing, and, much like in Fightin' Pals, Popeye gives his lifelong companion the other half of the spinach... and the can to boot. What, is Bluto a goat now? Needles to say, Popeye and Bluto team up with a giant American fist to kick some Axis power ass. Apparently the Italian army gets a free pass. Frankly, Italy was the weak link in the Axis power chain. At least Switzerland did something useful!... for the Nazis, that is. What did Italy contribute to the cause of fascism? I mean, besides Mussolini folding his arms at the podium?
There's also an interesting cameo for Hitler. Hey, Hitler. Oliver Hardy called; wants his moustache back. And to a lesser extent, Charlie Chaplin.
EPILOGUE - Bluto and Popeye are back at the Draft Board office. Ooh! They must've filmed that part the same day as the other Draft Board scenes! Bluto's signing the paperwork, but asks Popeye "How do you spell Bluto?" What can me say? I got a chuckle out of that.
-so sayeth The Movie Hooligan