Sunday, December 02, 2012

The Fleischer Popeyes; Let's You And Him Fight

As this cartoon opens, we don't get the usual Popeye singing his theme song! Instead, we've got a long shot of a boxing training camp, and on one side, we see Popeye warming up, and on the other side, Bluto. A helpful set of loudspeakers tells us they are two of the roughest, toughest fighters in history in the battle of the century (well, honestly, how would they have guessed that Superman was going to fight Muhammed Ali in the 1970s?). Bluto's introduced as the champ, and he's fighting a practice dummy, and Popeye, on the other hand, is introduced a the contender -- and now he gets to sing his song, as he's jumping rope with a string of sausages. Popeye's not content to jump with his feet, he also bounces over the sausage rope with his bottom as well as his head.

008-02Bluto, seeing this, works out with a punching bag until it pops, and then puts a 1,000 lb. weight in its place, and he Transformation Punches it into a car, which drives off! I don't remember Bluto ever demonstrating the Transformation Punch before, and thought that was only Popeye's bit. He looks over at Popeye, who starts punching a donkey in the behind, who responds by kicking Popeye in the jaw.  This goes on a few times, but then when the donkey does one final kick with both back legs, it breaks its horseshoes! Popeye turns back to Bluto and laughs.

008-03We then see a poster, "Big fight to-note, Bluto the Champ vs. Popeye the Sailor," and the fight is taking place at "Yank'em Stadium." Inside, Popeye's getting a rub-down (not by any character from the Popeye series), while Olive tries to talk Popeye out of the fight, saying if he fights, she won't see him again (oddly, Olive has a bit of a Brooklyn accent). When Popeye doesn't respond, she storms out, after which Popeye says, "I yam what I yam and that's all what I yam!" Popeye's then called out to the ring.

The referee announces the contestants (Bluto gets boos, Popeye cheers). When Bluto enters the ring, he does so by pulling up the post at the corner, walking under it, and pushing it back in place. Popeye, on the other hand, just rips the ropes in half and ties them together behind him. Wimpy, munching on burgers, his struck by a hand of the clock, his head hitting the bell to start the fight. Shortly, Bluto gets an arm around Popeye and starts pummeling him. Popeye gets some punches in on Bluto's gut, and the ref pushes them apart. Bluto starts punching Popeye back into the ropes, so when Popeye bounces back he can punch him again. The bell rings to end the round.

008-05Bluto goes to sit in his corner, and pulls his shirt up to cool off. Between his panting and his second's fanning him with a towel, Bluto's tattoo of a sailing ship goes for a cruise around Bluto's torso and back to the front again. The next round starts and Bluto goes back to bashing Popeye back into the ropes again! We cut to ringside, where an announcer for WHAM radio is commentating on the fight, and he gets into it so much he starts punching the people next to him! Back at Olive's house, she's listening to the radio and fretting away.

008-06Eventually, she starts crying enough tears to fill up a big pot as the announcer says that Popeye is down! Olive realizes she needs to do something, and gets a can of spinach off the shelf, breaks down the door of her house, and rushes to the stadium! She gets there as Popeye's knocked for a loop at the edge of the ring, and she hands him the spinach, saying, "Fight, ya palooka, fight!" Popeye eats the spinach (we get a bit of fanfare here, but not the classic one yet) and, as his theme plays, Popeye is reinvigorated, and goes after Bluto!

008-07As Popeye's fists hammer into Bluto, his fists literally become hammers (as the Anvil Chorus plays). Olive cheers him on, getting so worked up that she collapses on Popeye's stool in the corner, and Popeye has to fan her off with a towel! The next round begins, and Popeye continues his pummeling of Bluto. Bluto pulls the post off the corner of the ring, hits Popeye with it, and starts tieing him up with the ropes! Popeye, however, first head-butts Bluto, and then inhales to break the ropes off of him!

008-08Popeye punches Bluto so hard that he flies out of the ring, breaking through some supports, and then bouncing off a far wall and back to the ring, where he lands on Popeye! The ref announces Bluto as the winner, but Popeye says, "Oh, yeah?" and punches the ref through Bluto's stomach! Popeye sings the last line of his theme song as we iris out.

So... what can I say about this one? Wimpy is kind of wasted, being used in just the one shot... and Olive seems to be acting more like the inspiration for Rocky's love Adrienne than herself! Plus, how does Bluto get the best of Popeye for even a second after Popeye eats his spinach? On the other hand, Popeye was known for doing his share of prizefighting in the comics when he needed money, so that's true to the character. Still, so much of this cartoon feels like it's out of character that I have to give this one two cans of spinach out of five.

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