Wednesday, October 03, 2012

The Fleischer Popeyes: Blow Me Down!

003-01This time around, we actually open the cartoon with the Popeye theme, although it's not arranged the way you're probably listening to it in your head right now. Still, it's a start, right? Anyway, "Blow Me Down" opens with Popeye singing his song while on a boat... well, you think that, but when the camera pulls out, he's actually riding on a whale! He's got a mast inserted in the blow hole for the sail, and a stick is tied to the tale for a rudder. Popeye's neck is extremely rubbery, stretching out quite a bit as he sings.  His whale/boat pulls up to a pier, and Popeye goes ashore in what is some kind of South or Central American city (you can tell from the sombreros).

003-02As Popeye walks down the street, evil banditos keep an eye on him, and one even shoots at him -- but the bullet bounces off of Popeye's head and kills the bandito who shot it! Popeye goes into the shop, "Alla Kinda Flowers," and asks for a bouquet of flowers for his "Sweet Patootie," but comes out with a rather sad looking daisy. Walking with it down the street, one Mexican (oh, let's just say he's in Mexico for the hell of it) laughs at Popeye, showing his gigantic teeth. Popeye punches the man in the mouth, shattering his teeth and making a maraca sound.

003-03Meanwhile, Olive is performing at a cantina, and Popeye arrives and sits at a table with his flower. Olive's dancing is something to behold, legs going everywhere! She sees Popeye and rushes to his table, tripping on a spittoon, which Popeye laughs at before giving her the flower. Olive goes back to dancing, but ends up getting both feet stuck in spittoons! Popeye laughs at this, but Olive, getting angry, decides to dance with them on anyway, making the best of it, and getting a round of cheers from the crowd.

003-04However, all is not well, as Bluto the Bandit arrives, and shoots up the place! When the smoke clears, everyone else is gone except for Popeye. He goes up to Popeye (muttering under his breath, "Who's that guy?" -- this may be the first under-the-breath ad lib the voice people did for this series, and would become a trademark of the cartoons) and poses exactly as his wanted poster, but Popeye doesn't notice him. He finally gets Popeye's attention, and Popeye mutters, "Who's afraid of you?" and laughs.

Bluto then proceeds to demonstrate his strength by grabbing a bottle of booze and squeezes it to force the cork out, and then takes a drink! Popeye responds by hitting the table, sending the bottle and a glass up into the air, where the bottle pours into the glass before landing, and Popeye drinks the glass dry. Bluto then draws his pistol and shoots at a candle on a shelf, splitting it into several smaller candles, which he then shoots to light! He hands over his pistol to Popeye, but Popeye simply puts the gun into his mouth and chews it up, spitting out the bullets he's made like a human machine gun, and knocking out the supports for the second floor hallway!

003-06This, of course, makes Bluto rather upset, and he punches Popeye in the jaw, sending Popeye's head spinning around! After Popeye's head spins back, he punches Bluto, sending him flying to the other side of the cantina. Bluto then opens the door, and in comes his bandit crew, which he sics on Popeye. Popeye warns them, "You guys will get hurt, travelin' alone!" and he eats his spinach, and we get a very minor effect demonstrating the strength he gains from it.

003-07The bandits attack, but Popeye easily hits them as they come at him, sending them flying all over the cantina. Bluto, meanwhile, goes to Olive's dressing room, and we see from the door's movement and Olive's cries that she's in trouble! Popeye launches himself up the stairs and to the room, where he walks right through the door (which puts itself together again), but inside, Bluto's on the floor, and Olive's hitting him with a club! Mind you, at this point we still have a minute and 15 seconds left in the cartoon!

003-08Popeye stands there, watching. Bluto suddenly gets up and punches Popeye, then Olive hits him with her club, and we go through this a few times, as it gets faster and faster, until Bluto is finally all worn out! Popeye then punches Bluto out of the window, and jumps after him! The two then fight on the rooftops before falling to the street. They continue to trade blows -- at one point Popeye casually leans out of the fight and relights his pipe -- and then Bluto's left barely standing, and Popeye calls his "muscular troops" to battle, as a bunch of smaller muscles travel up his arm to join into one big muscle, and then he punches Bluto around the world, and then turns around to knock him out when he comes out of orbit! Popeye then sings, "I'm Popeye the Sailor Man! (toot! toot!)" and we iris out.

003-09Okay, by now you may have noticed that the Popeye formula is starting to come into play.  In its final form, it would look something like this:

  1. Iris open on Popeye singing his theme song. He might be on a boat or walking down the street. As he sings, we see where he is.
  2. Popeye demonstrates his amazing strength and/or toughness in a casual way.
  3. Popeye goes to where Olive is (if she's not already with him).
  4. Bluto arrives and tries to steal Olive away
  5. Popeye and Bluto exchange some blows.
  6. Bluto gets the temporary advantage, and takes off with Olive.
  7. Popeye finally eats his spinach. The Popeye fanfare plays, some kind of effect is done to visually show his strength (like a closeup of a muscle, revealing a generator running or some such thing).
  8. As "Stars and Stripes Forever" plays, Popeye immediately goes into action, fighting whatever's in his way, having at least one or two transformation punches, and finally defeating Bluto.
  9. Popeye holds Olive and sings the last few lines of his theme song, often altered to fit the particular cartoon, and we iris out.
As you can see, the formula isn't there quite yet -- the muscles joining into the big muscle should've been right after Popeye ate his spinach, to show how it's making him stronger. And Bluto is capable of putting up way too much of a fight after Popeye's eaten his spinach, too!

But the series is, after all, a work in progress. Still, the best rating I can give to this one is three cans of spinach!

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