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Donald's Tire Trouble
Is it just me or does this cartoon have some really aggressive animations on Donald and his actions? It feels like Donald's actions take fewer frames than normal, and quite faster as a result. Also, I need to point out how the final breakdown on Donald is quite unsettling, even as cartoon frustration shots go. Here, for several frames of close-ups, his eyes bulge out of the sockets and his facial expressions get incredibly grotesque.
Popeye Meets Rip Van Winkle
Isn't it kinda anti-climactic that Popeye eats his canned spinach, goes through the usual Popeye fanfare, only to merely be able to carry an old guy and run away from a bunch of rioting dwarves?
Cops Is Always Right
Two things make this short a bit odd... One is the setting with Popeye dealing with mondane objects and multiple urban annoyances while oblivious to various accidents he's causing. It's actually quite cute of him, but aside from maybe one or two gags, most scenes aren't that cartoony or surreal. The way he rearranges the rooms definitely is quite an amusing sight, though. The other is the minimal soundtrack with (Correct me if I'm wrong. I know nothing about instruments, really) flutes, something in the lines of accordions and harmonica, and occasionally xylophones? I don't know, but there's no trumpets for sure, and it's also quite charming this way.
I Yam Love Sick
It feels like this short is where the Fleischer-typical ad-libs reigned supreme. Every character seems to have constant under-the-breath mutterings, funny gibberish noises and/or clever remarks, such as when Popeye starts trembling out of control to play sick and he inserts, "Hey Olive, look, I'm getting sick", or when Olive impatiently says "What next, what next?" as the doctors ("pehpehpehpehpeh") carry Popeye to another room. The animated behaviors of the doctors, the skewed architecture of the hospital and the improv dialogue above really add to the surreal fun of the cartoon, which with the "playing sick" premise really wouldn't be that funny if made in any other way.
Can You Take It
I'd probably consider this short one of the quintessential Fleischer Popeye's. It has no love triangle, but it has everything: absurd rhythmic violence, surreal body humor with quite a few action scenes that can be a bit sickening in hindsight, a proper Popeye fanfare followed by one fast-paced climax, Fleischer-typical urban scenery. This is what a 1990s Popeye arcade beat-em-up video game may take major inspirations from (if there were such a game...)
Popeye the Sailor Meets Ali Baba's Forty Thieves
The only reason I can't call it the quintessential Popeye cartoon is that it is a color two-reeler: the exception rather than the black-and-white norm. Though this IS my absolute favorite Popeye, more so than 1936's "Sindbad the Sailor" because it features more comedy. Compared to that two-reeler, this short is more focused on gags, with a lot more funny quips and more fast punches. Also he mops the floor with 40 mooks like lightning and spindashes like a bowling ball. How cool is that.
Aladdin and His Wonderful Lamp
I might be wrong, but this seems to be the first Popeye cartoon to take liberties with Popeye's eyes. Normally his right eye would be closed because it was lost due to Popeye's fights. He can open both of his eyes now, and he closes either just because. This may have something to do with the new animators arriving at Fleischer Studios new Miami lot. This Popeye color featurette has less outrageous humor than Ali Baba's Forty Thieves and fewer outright impactful scenes than Sindbad the Sailor, but it does focus on a slightly more dramatic story (not unlike a 20s feature, which the featurette is a parody of) and casts Popeye and Olive as the story's original characters rather than just making them travelers of an exotic setting. This makes the featurette more dynamic story-wise than the others. Also, its gags are sometimes quite subdued, which may have something to do with the villain not being a Bluto persona, but a vizzier fighting with wits. This actually gives him quite an interesting edge in the final battle with Popeye, which Popeye can't curb-stomp with fisks! All in all, this isn't my favorite Popeye, but certain aspects of it do stand out against a lot of other Popeye cartoons. Dave Tendlar did a different, but fine, job.
The House Builder Upper
So there IS a short before 1939 that made Popeye open his right eye, and it's a Seymour Kneitel cartoon, no less. Granted that shot with the opened right-eye is just recycled animation so...
A Clean Shaven Man
This shot may feature some of the ugliest faces of Popeye and Bluto ever, though this is probably intended as a gag. Bluto, after a frankly excellent clean shave by Popeye, looks far, FAR more intimidating than usual, mostly with his giant teeth and bulgy eyes being quite prominent without the facial hair. That's the nature of Fleischer's or maybe Elzie Segar's funny characters: The true ugliness comes AFTER a cosmetic make-up attempt.
The Anvil Chorus Girl
This short's timing was almost as sharp as any MGM cartoon of the same time. The horse shoe fights got absolutely crazy and even though this short recycled "Shoein' Hosses", gags seem fresh in this short. This was an amazing upgrade from the short it recycled from, quite unusual seeing how people tend to think "Famous Studios + recycled short plotline = PAINFUL CARTOON".
Blue Cat Blues
This cartoon. Tom attempts a suicide. And that's not a gag at all. There's no payoff of the suicide. The payoff IS ths suicide. The satire of romance is played out in this cartoon to such an extent that I'm kinda confused whether this short is ultimately supposed to be funny. It's so drenched in its dramatic and depressed tone that it's clear why many misinformed people nowadays can't quite get the joke of it and think of it as Hanna and Barbera's painful farewell for the series.
It's Bugs Bunny, America's adored icon, versus the entire USA. Robert McKimson just got hardcore right here. The climax with large-scale live-action military footage brings this cartoon to an insane height in surrealism.
This nightmare-themed cartoon is one of the most surreal Fleischer Popeye cartoons, but I don't think the surreal qualities actually work that well here. The wilder earlier Fleischer cartoons, especially the ones that reflect on the spooky, creepy aspects, usually have constant shapeshifting objects maniacally dishing out jokes and slapstick with high energy, while here in this cartoon, a rock transforms into a steamroller and approaches Popeye, and gets disintegrated into pillow feathers upon impact, all in a very subdued fashion. The climax, with a multitude of deformed faces of Bluto and Olive taunting him and forming one giant laughing head, can be quite a riot on papar, but it's still sorely missing the frantic energy that A FLEISCHER CARTOON ABOUT A NIGHTMARE usually could deliver. It is quite funny, though, to see Popeye's actual actions parallel his experience in his dream, with him struggling with bedroom objects when he is being tormented by his adversaries.
A surprisingly energetic late 1950s Noveltoon, with Winston Sharple's soundtrack contributing to most of its frantic-ness. I like it better than "Hillbilling and Cooing", her debut cartoon, though the character's premise probably would be worn thin if a third Possum Pearl cartoon was made.
Shiver Me Timbers
This is a particularly thrilling Popeye cartoon, with malicious ghosts wreaking havoc to the rhythm of "Sing You Sinners"/"SWING You Sinners". Unhinged Fleischer cartoon grotesquery at its zenith here. ------ Some scenes in this cartoon are far more horrifying if you think about them. When Popeye, Olive and Wimpy are surrounded by huge ghosts, they get into a violent fight, with trippy animated effects hiding a few drawings of Olive and Wimpy screaming in horror (Freeze-frame these and enjoy your nightmares). The crowd suddenly shrinks into nothingness, with remnants of their cries for help still audible, and shortly after the trio are seen completely separated, all trapped in a humiliating torture scene. Even though anything can happen in a Fleischer cartoon, I still wonder what has happened inbetween, and what if I were to experience such a chain of events, like if I got beaten by a giant spirit creature, disappeared, and in no time flat found myself in a torture chamber. Quite unnerving, I'd say.
One of the greatest Popeye cartoons IMO. It balances the adventurous and comedic tones in the Thimble Theatre comics quite beautifully, with a typical Fleischer surreal touch. This short introduces the uncanny humanoid "Goons" into animation, as well as Popeye's long lost father "Poopdeck Pappy", as the Goons' hostage. The non-descript Goons are a serious threat, as Popeye's physical agility and wacky stealth tricks are just barely getting him far into the heart of the Goons' valley. During his encounter with the imprisoned Pappy, Popeye's and Pappy's characters and sentiments are clearly differentiated with some simple exchanges of dialogue. (Note that Pappy's lines "I don't like relatives" and "Whatcha want me to do, kiss ye?", as well as the image of an "infink" Popeye are lifted straight from a 1936 Thimble Theatre comic storyline) When Popeye finds himself outnumbered by the Goons in a violent brawl, Pappy's stone-cold heart warms up as he desperately attempts to break out and save his son, and the cartoon smoothly transitions into a suspenseful climax with quite a few surprises. To me, this is proof that the Fleischer animators can bring the comic strip's exciting stories to the screen, rather than just the two or three characters. While it sucks that few Thimble Theatre characters did get that treatment, "Goonland" is one delicious blend of all things I love about Popeye.
The Lonesome Stranger
A very Tex Avery-esque comedy-centric cartoon from MGM's Hugh Harman crew, even before Avery himself came to the studio and changed everything. While some gags in this short tend to be not quite as good as Avery's animators could deliver, the main confliting characters -- the "Lonesome Stranger" and the banditos -- and the situations associated with them are a delight.
A more-or-less light-hearted character study of the three generations of Popeye's family. Popeye's and Pappy's parental choices are both depicted as a bit silly, with Popeye telling Swee'Pea the story of "George Wash-lincoln" and Pappy using Swee'Pea as target practice particularly weird upon more viewings... and it doesn't go for a lot of laugh-out-loud actions, but since the way the characters are depicted kinda fit their personalities, this short is definitely intriguing in its own way. Did George Germanetti work on this one?
It's probably my favorite among the several T&J cartoons with Quacker in them. Usually these cartoons a premise about the duckling being stubborn or hyper enthusiastic about something, while Jerry has to set him straight while the hungry Tom is never too far behind. This short makes the premise darkly comedic by driving Quacker, who believes he is the "Ugly Duckling" in a storybook, to the brink of suicide. So this time Quacker doesn't unwittingly get into danger, he deliberately attempts to end his own life, which, per Tom and Jerry standard, means a lot more potential for violence, even though the actual physical harm is minimal here. Jerry's help by cosmetic means also backfires a bit, first with Quacker seeing himself in distorted reflections, and a BRILLIANT final pay-off to Tom based on how certain people actually found makeup sessions to be like. That's why I really find joy in this particular short.
The Missing Mouse
Notably, this short was the only MGM cartoon by the specific studio that wasn't composed by Scott Bradley, but Disney veteran Ed Plumb. Compare this short to 1953's Donald Duck short "The New Neighbor" and you can figure out some major similariries. These two shorts didn't utilize the rich, full orchestra that Scott Bradley (at least seemingly) enjoyed, but emphasized on simple reoccuring leitmotifs, and pushed for sheer power. Very interesting.
Big Heel Watha
Probably the closest thing to a cartoon exploitation combat between the droll but lucky Droopy and the zany Screwy Squirrel. Both the Droopy stand-in "Heel-Watha" and the squirrel are fully cartoon-savvy and they are on the opposite ends of the cartoon trickster spectrum, which gives of an incredible energy.
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