For obvious reasons, Judge Patrick Naugle no longer uses the catch phrase "Blow me down."
I yam what I yam.
It's the adventures of everyone's favorite nautical hero, Popeye the Sailor! Get ready to laugh and thrill to the antics of the bicep bulging, corncob pipe smoking Popeye (Jack Mercer) as he protects his lanky, daffy girlfriend Olive Oyl (Mae Questel) from the clutches of the dastardly Brutus (Jackson Beck). Along the way Popeye gets into all kinds of adventures, from seafaring hijinx to scuffles with the crusty Sea Hag! Grab your can of spinach and get ready to sail the seven seas of hilarity with Popeye the Sailor: The 1960s Classics, Volume One!
Popeye is an animated character that has snuck his way into the pop culture consciousness through cartoons, feature films, arcade games, and even a fried chicken franchise (although the name was originally based on the character from The French Connection). You'd be hard pressed to find many people who read his classic comic strips these days, watch the cartoons, or even sit through the live action film (featuring Robin Williams as the titular hero). Yet everyone knows who Popeye is, can sing his theme song ("I'm strong to the finish / 'cause I eats me spinach / I'm Popeye the sailorman"), and has probably tasted that scrumptious fried chicken. There are also a lot of us who grew up on his cartoon reruns in the 1980s, which is where the appeal of this set will come into play.
Warner Archive has released Popeye the Sailor: The 1960s Classics, Volume One as a two disc set of the classic King Features animated shorts featuring Popeye, hapless Olive Oyl, hamburger loving Wimpy, tough guy Brutus (changed for some reason from the original Bluto), adorable Sweet Pea, and even the dreaded Sea Hag. There are 72 episodes presented on this set, most of them around five minutes in length. Because of the short nature of the episodes, none of these brief cartoons offer much in the way of narrative depth. Mostly, viewers get to see Popeye go fishing, Popeye getting frozen in a block of ice, or Popeye taking on Brutus (right after downing a can of his famous spinach, of course). Usually Popeye has to rescue Olive Oyl or save himself from the clutches of the bad guys. Cue end credits, and you're onto the next five minute long feature.
What the series lacks in story it makes up for in entertaining voice work by a game cast. Voice actor Jack Mercer is the quintessential Popeye, all gibberish bluster and goofy giggle. The legendary Mae Questel (also the voice of the animated Betty Boop) plays a perfect Olive Oyl, often times in need of rescue by her beloved Popeye. Also on board is Jackson Beck (the announcer for the 1940s radio serial The Adventures of Superman) as the villainous Brutus, who spends most of the time trying to steal Popeye's girl and being on the wrong end of the sailorman's fists. It's clear the actors are giving a mighty attempt to breathe life into the characters, and usually they succeed.
Each episode is presented in its original aspect ratio of 1.33:1 full frame. There isn't a whole lot to say about these video transfers; while it's clear Warner has cleaned up the negatives quite a bit, the image doesn't really 'pop' off the screen. Colors are decent and black levels solid, but none of them are overly impressive. The soundtracks are presented in Dolby Digital 1.0 Mono in English. Much like the video transfers, there isn't a lot to report here; dialogue, music, and effects work are all easily distinguishable. The bulk of this sound mix is front heavy with no directional effects to be found. No alternate soundtracks or subtitles are available on this set. There are no bonus features.
It's hard to review a collection Popeye the Sailor: The 1960s Classics, Volume One, something that shall most likely appeal to a specific audience, and little else. Anyone who didn't grow up watching these King Features cartoons may find them to be rather bland. The animation can only be described as 'sub par' (and that's being generous); characters often stand in one place while their legs or lips move. In short, these Popeye shorts make Hannah-Barbara cartoons look like a Pixar production. Yet there's a charm that can't be denied. The voice work makes up for the animation shortcoming. Recommended to anyone who remembers watching Popeye while eating a bowl of Coco Puffs on Saturday morning.
A bit creaky, but not guilty.
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Studio: Warner Bros.
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