Saturday, August 01, 2015

The Fleischer Popeyes #17: The Dance Contest!

Popeye's not exactly light on his feet!
The 17th Fleischer Popeye cartoon, "The Dance Contest," gets Popeye and the gang away from their usual environs of adventure. It opens, predictably enough, at a dance contest that Olive has dragged Popeye to, although he doesn't seem as interested. Inside, the judge of the contest is Wimpy, who works his way through a pile of hamburgers as he judges. When he decides to eliminate a couple, he pulls the handle of a device called "Eliminator," which opens a trap door under the offending couple, dropping them down below!

Bluto is a much better dancer than his rival.
Popeye and Olive start to dance, and it's a disaster from the start, as Popeye keeps stepping on Olive's huge feet! Popeye tries keeping his feet further back, but this makes things worse. Sitting at a table with his hair slicked-back is Bluto, who laughs at them. Bluto's outfit is similar to the dance instructors from the Monkees' episode where Peter signs up for dance lessons! Bluto decides to show Popeye how it's done, and walks over to the couple, where he kicks Popeye aside and starts dancing with Olive. Popeye doesn't like this, but doesn't stop them.

Spinach is always the answer!
Popeye watches the two dance, and tries to break them up, but Bluto tosses Popeye aside. Popeye, dejected, mutters, "I guess I have no sex appeal," and starts walking away, dejected. Meanwhile, Wimpy's eliminating couples right and left, including a couple whose only offense was that they don't have any mustard for Wimpy to put on his burgers!

Wimpy helpfully clears the dance floor.
Popeye sits at a table with a big bowl of spinach to drown his sorrows, and when he takes a bite, one of his feet start dancing of its own accord! Popeye takes another bite, and his other foot starts up! So Popeye gulps down the rest in one gulp, and he immediately starts dancing like Fred Astaire! A nice touch is that the Popeye fanfare starts, but each line is interrupted by an appropriate bit of music for the dance style he's doing, the Charleston. 

Bluto's comeback is hard on Olive!
Popeye starts dancing his way across the room to a cha-cha beat, and pushes Bluto aside, dancing with Olive, who responds well. Popeye orders the deck to be cleared, "As on account of I'm gonna do my stuff!" Wimpy clears the deck with the Eliminator. Popeye and Olive start dancing together like nobody's ever seen before or since! You really have to watch the cartoon to appreciate the inventiveness of some of the dance moves. The crowd applauds their efforts.

Bluto doesn't like this one bit, and decides to cut in, pushing Popeye aside and dancing with Olive roughly. Olive clearly doesn't care for this one bit, especially when Bluto treats her like a yo-yo! Popeye watches, puzzled, trying to decide what to do.

"That's all I can stands, 'coz I can't stands no more!"
Finally, Popeye stands up, saying, "That's all I can stands, 'cos I can't stands no more!" He rushes out to the dance floor and starts mopping up the floor with Bluto as he dances with Bluto! Bluto tries fighting back, but he's clearly outmatched. Finally, Bluto's knocked out, and Popeye is awarded the first prize. Wimpy hands Popeye the trophy, which contains mustard (which Wimpy uses on his burger).
Popeye's dance moves put Bluto
out for the count!

Overall, it's a fun little cartoon, but it's definitely missing something. Popeye doesn't demonstrate any strength at all until he eats his spinach, and even then it mostly gives him "Happy Feet." Maybe it was the length of this that made it difficult to put the usual Popeye stuff in there.

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