66 of 75 people found the following review helpful
Someone has already commented in Volume One that these early Popeye cartoons are totally different from what is often seen on TV. Those cartoons were largely made in the 60's and are quite monotonous - Bluto wants Olive as a girlfriend, he initially gets the upper hand, and then Popeye eats his spinach and saves the day. If that were the case here I'd say save your money. However, this is not the case. These early Popeye cartoons feature funnier, more interesting versions of the Popeye characters in a wide variety of plots. The following is the press release indicating the contents of volume 2:
I Yam Love Sick
Plumbing Is A Pipe
Bulldozing The Bull
Mutiny Ain't Nice
A Date To Skate
Cops Is Always Right
ALADDIN AND HIS WONDERFUL LAMP
Leave Well Enough Alone
Ghosks Is The Bunk
Hello, How Am I
It"s The Natural Thing To Do
Never Sock A Baby
Females Is Fickle
Stealin' Ain't Honest
Me Feelin's Is Hurt
Wimmin Is A Myskery
Doin' Impossikible Stunts
Wimmin Hadn't Oughta Drive
Puttin On The Act
Popeye Meets William Tell
My Pop, My Pop
With Poopdeck Pappy
Popeye Presents Eugene The Jeep
Extras will include commentaries, Popeye Popumentary featurettes, an Out of the Inkwell: The Fleischer Story retrospective documentary, the feature-length movie Gulliver's Travels, vintage audio recordings, radio interviews, and more.
19 of 20 people found the following review helpful
on June 24, 2008
These cartoons were notoriously difficult to restore--where Volume 2 was originally intended to be another four disc set, the restorations on this particular group of films proved to be much more challenging than expected.
With that said, I think the producers did a great job delivering us another high-quality "official" Popeye The Sailor release. There are some instances where the picture jumps during the opening credits or the sound quality swells, but overall the quality and integrity of these cartoons has been restored 99 percent. In other words, the producers of this set did the best they could to fix what were very damaged originals.
If you enjoyed Popeye The Sailor Vol. 1 you will enjoy Vol. 2 as well. You definitely see some changes in the Fleischers' direction, as they uprooted their studio and moved to Miami, in some cases placing Popeye in a suburban setting rather than the gritty city of the cartoons in the first volume. And it's interesting to see all of that off-screen drama manifest itself on-screen. But as the saying goes, you can take the kid out of the city but you can't take the city out of the kid; even though Popeye may find himself in calmer neighborhoods, he is still the same rough and tumble sailor, ready to crack a can of spinich and throw down with anyone.
What I think is so impressive about these sets is that they don't only rekindle your interest in Popeye--they pull you into the Fleischers' history and they boost your overall interest in animation. The extras and "Popumentaries" give you detailed looks at specific characters and voice-actors, and the packaging is really beautiful, perfectly capturing the era that these films represent.
I would recommend this set to any fan of Popeye, any fan of animation, or any fan of DVD collections, for that matter. While you may find a spot where the picture shakes in one or two of the cartoons, that is only because the originals are seventy years old and this specific batch of originals was particularly damaged. The picture isn't perfect, but then again, neither is Popeye--the one-eyed, toothless, middle-aged scrapper--the unlikeliest of heroes. The producers did the best they could to restore the films--and for me, that grittiness actually adds to the set's authenticity. Looking forward to Vol. 3.
8 of 9 people found the following review helpful
on June 22, 2008
POPEYE THE SAILOR: Volume Two 1938-1940: Released: June 17, 2008.
(Partial) DVD Review by Joe Torcivia.
Can you review such a set after just viewing the first eight cartoons? Let's find out... Warning! It's Long...
What a great series of Popeye cartoons we have to open Disc One of this new set!
By 1938, Max and Dave Fleischer have clearly broken with the formula they established early on... and the one that the Famous Paramount studio would do to death in their later Popeye cartoons. You know... Popeye, Olive Oyl, Bluto, triangle, spinach, Sock-o, etc.
In the first EIGHT cartoons on the disc, Bluto - and the formulaic conflict he brings with him - is nowhere in sight, save for a cameo appearance AS A PHOTOGRAPH (!) in the first one. In these eight alone, we have a diversity of cast that would be unimaginable in later years. Popeye, Olive, Wimpy, Swee'Pea, Eugene the Jeep, Poopdeck Pappy, the Goons... and, of course, the photograph of Bluto that (not unexpectedly) steals the only scene that it's in!
Before continuing, I should say that, despite my comments above, Bluto is one of the great villains in the history of theatrical animation, and most (if not all) of his appearances on the first POPEYE set (1933-1938) were very enjoyable. But, in times to come, he will wear out his welcome (at least to me) and it is with this knowledge of what lies ahead that I take this position. But, if we go much longer than these first eight without him, I'm going to really start missing the big lug!
Here's a (relatively, but not completely) Spoiler-Free recap of those first eight cartoons...
01: "I Yam Love Sick". Enraptured in romance novels, and aided by a huge box of chocolates from Bluto - and that scene-stealing photograph - Olive totally ignores Popeye, to the point where he has to play sick-and-dying to get any attention. "I must be losin' me sex repeal, or sumpthin'!" mutters the sailor man, in one of those famous Jack Mercer ad-libs where Popeye's mouth doesn't move! She takes him to the hospital, where he continues to play almost-dead... until it's time to operate!
02: "Plumbing is a Pipe". I'm guessing that, in ye olde-tyme slang, if something was "a pipe", it was easy or "a cinch". Olive springs a leak in her kitchen, which she compounds - and Popeye compounds much further. Wimpy is great as the plumber, who keeps forgetting things or has other excuses like Lunch to keep from getting on the job. He gets his later!
03: "The Jeep". Swee'Pea keeps trying to escape Olive's very high apartment, by crawling out the window. She thwarts him (Saying that he's giving her "Populations of the heart!"), until he finally gets out! Popeye shows up with Eugene the Jeep (a "magical dog"!) who can accurately answer any question, disappear and reappear, and track anything with his uncanny abilities to walk through walls, on air, or anywhere else. He tracks the missing Swee'Pea, leading Popeye on a merry - and painful - chase and to a great ending!
This is one of the two best cartoons on the disc so far! Though it is not an origin for "The Jeep"... he's just there with Popeye, visiting Olive. Oddly, his animated origin occurs in "Popeye Presents Eugene the Jeep", which is the LAST cartoon on Disc Two - and was apparently produced by the Fleischers about TWO YEARS after this one.
The latter Jeep cartoon contradicts the former, in dealing with Eugene's origins, but that's to be expected from Golden Age animation. The presence of the second cartoon, a good explanatory commentary on this cartoon, and an extra feature mini-documentary, "Eugene the Jeep: A Breed of His Own", detailing the Jeep's comic strip origins, help ease (...or maybe they ADD TO) the confusion over this odd and wonderful character.
04: "Bulldozing the Bull". Popeye's in Spain, Mexico, or somewhere that bullfighting is popular. In this unexpectedly superior cartoon he demonstrates the more modern attitude (...and certainly not the prevailing attitude when this cartoon was made!) that the sport of bullfighting - and especially the killing of the bull - is cruelty to animals! Olive is the obligatory seniorita (presaging the sort of role-playing she'd often do in later outings), and a seating mix-up leads to Popeye being a reluctant toreador. Lots of good gags, and a great surprise ending that I will not spoil! Popeye's steadfast values here left me clapping! That's the Popeye I love from the comics, unflagging ethics and all!
05: "Mutiny Ain't Nice". One of my general complaints about the POPEYE series is that he isn't shown often enough to be a SAILOR! Well, here he captains his own cargo sailing ship, with a rough and dangerous crew to boot. Olive falls into a trunk and is brought aboard as they shove off. The crew believes that females are bad luck on a ship and, when they find Olive, they mutiny against Captain Popeye and try to kill Olive. The great thing about this one (...and it's only a small spoiler in the greater scheme of things) is that Olive finds that she ACTUALLY ENJOYS leading the murderous crew on a wild chase! Popeye, once regaining control, enacts a solution that satisfies everyone - just not the way any of them would like!
06: "Goonland". The best cartoon on the disc so far - and more of an adventure in the E.C. Segar comic strip tradition than the usual animated comedy. Popeye sails (Yes, he's a sailor again!) to the mysterious "Goon Island", to find his lost "Poopdeck Pappy" who left 40 years ago, when Popeye was a baby! Was Pappy animation's first "deadbeat dad"? The Goons AND Pappy, from the Segar strip, are introduced in this one!
Pappy is a prisoner of the Goons, and wants no part of his son, until the Goons capture Popeye and try to kill him by staking him at the foot of a cliff and dropping a boulder on him. Pappy downs the spinach, which the Goons removed from Popeye, and saves the day. The Goons are dealt with by a remarkable fourth-wall-breaking device that is both extremely clever and looks somewhat out of place at the same time. You judge for yourself. Its unexpected surprise value goes a long way toward selling it, though!
This is a magnificently designed cartoon! Everything on Goon Island is eerie looking... especially for a cartoon of this period! As with the introduction of Eugene the Jeep, a good explanatory commentary on this cartoon, and an extra feature mini-documentary, "Poopdeck Pappy: The Nasty Old Man and the Sea" detail Pappy's comic strip origins.
07: "A Date to Skate". With Bluto still among the missing, Popeye convinces a VERY reluctant Olive to roller skate in one of those old roller skating palaces. As expected, Olive soon careens out of control, onto the street, wreaking havoc on the outside world! The Fleischers continue to marvelously play with "The Formula" by having Popeye FORGET TO BRING HIS SPINACH on the skating date! "I must be gettin' OLD! Don't tell me I left it HOME!" Don't worry; he gets some though a device we've seen in some other cartoons. And, as when she was pursued by the crew of murderous mutineers, Olive ends up enjoying her near-death-ride for the sheer thrill of it all! This is a take on the usually timid Olive that we seldom saw! I guess THAT'S what Popeye sees in the old scarecrow!
08: "Cops is Always Right". A funnier than expected cartoon, where Popeye and his little crank-start, puttering car continuously run afoul of a gruff police officer. And he helps Olive with spring cleaning to boot. Popeye comes across a little more ignorant of the law than you'd expect even a one-eyed sailor to be, but it works anyway because the officer is such a good one-shot antagonist.
Alas, as was the Fleischer practice of the time, there are no writing credits on any of these first eight cartoons. Though, story credits begin during the period covered by this DVD set, as the second Jeep cartoon lists a story credit. The lack of credits early-on is a particular shame, as the cartoons discussed in this review comprised a very innovative portion of the series, story-wise. I'd sure love to know who wrote these!
The Fleischer animation is always tops, and Jack Mercer and Mae Questel (though Questel is replaced in some of these) are magnificent as Popeye and Olive - especially with their frequent and outright funny ad-libs! Indeed, at this particular point in the history of animation, they would have been the most entertaining animation voice actors of their time. But, look out for Mel Blanc lurking in the shadows...
So, on the basis of the first eight shorts (...and I have little expectation that this will change over the balance of the set), POPEYE THE SAILOR: Volume Two 1938-1940 is highly recommended by this reviewer! And... Hey, Bluto? We'll see ya soon, ol' pal!
5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
At the risk of sounding like a snob these aren't cartoons they're classic animation. Here we have a meeting of two 1930's giants, Fleischer Studios and perhaps the most indelible character in entertainment history, Popeye the Sailor Man. A short, balding, toothless, middle aged sailor with a misshapen body, poor grammar and a face only Olive could love. Popeye is less than an everyman, he's a misfit with the strength of a battleship. It's nearly impossible not to like Popeye because he represents the gangly, awkward side in all of us, protected by an inhuman ability to inflict and absorb punishment. Popeye is completely unaware of how he stands apart from the rest of humanity, he simply is who he is and Heaven help anyone who dares taunt the squinty eyed runt.
I have always been a huge fan of Disney but Fleischer Studios produced some of the most entertaining, influential animation ever during their short 21 year existence. At their peak the Popeye cartoons were as good as anything Disney ever put out. This DVD collection contains a very nice retrospective on the history and achievements of Fleischer Studios. I had no idea they produced full length features to compete with Disney. As a special bonus the collection includes an entire Superman cartoon `The Mechanical Monsters' which holds up incredibly well 70 years later.
The second Popeye DVD collection is half the size of the first but the quality remains top notch. We finally get to see the Jeep, Goon Island and even Poopdeck Pappy. There are special features devoted to the background and history of the Jeep and Pappy. There is another feature on Mae Questel, the voice of Olive Oyl for most of the Popeye cartoons, that's worth watching. Oddly enough Bluto doesn't even appear until the ninth episode (Customers Wanted) and that one is mostly just flashbacks to previous episodes. One of my favorite characters, Wimpy, hardly appears at all.
What makes this collection so special for me is the inclusion of commentary on many of the cartoons. It really helps fans to understand details about these cartoons they wouldn't naturally be aware of. For instance Fleischer would use different animators for distant and close up shots (probably a common practice in animation studios). After awhile you can actually start to recognize the style of specific animators. Even if I couldn't match a name to a cartoon I could see that there were more than subtle differences in drawings between episodes and I definitely had my favorites. The episode "Popeye meets William Tell" was done by a pair of animators who got their start at Fleischer but had been working for Disney. The cartoon has a very different style that didn't really mesh with the Popeye character (this is admitted by the lead artist from an old interview). You would never know this background if it weren't for the commentary.
Volume 2 is drawn from the years when Fleischer Studios moved from NY to Florida and you can see a difference is tone. I was a little disappointed by the reduced role of Bluto and near disappearance of Wimpy but it does feature perhaps my favorite Popeye cartoon, `Fighin' Pals' where we see that there exists a true friendship between Popeye and Bluto. These cartoons are both timeless and intractably tied to the late 30's early 40's. The humor holds up perfectly but a cartoon like this could never be made today. The rough and tumble, black and white style of Popeye springs from the depression era and the domesticated Popeye of later cartoons just doesn't work. Here is the animated Popeye at his peak. Enjoy.