Directed by Dave Fleischer
Voices by William Costello, William Pennell, Bonnie Poe
I have a special memory attached to the Popeye the Sailor cartoons that I saw as a child on TV. My grandfather used to like Popeye so I would watch them with him. I soon started calling him “Popeye” instead of Grandpa because he liked to eat spinach too. I called him Popeye for years. So, this is a bit nostalgic for me. Popeye the Sailor: 1938-1940 Volume Two was recently released by Warner Home Video on DVD.
If for some reason you are unfamiliar with Popeye the Sailor, let me catch you up to speed. Popeye is a middle-aged sailor with a unique way of speaking, muscular forearms with one or two anchor tattoos (depending on the artist and year), thinning hair, and an ever-present corncob pipe. This pipe can sound like a whistle pipe when he chooses. It has never been revealed specifically how Popeye lost his right eye, although he claims it was a terrible battle in which he almost lost his life.
Popeye’s adventures take him all over the world, and place him in conflict with enemies such as the Sea Hag and Bluto. His home is in the town of Sweet Haven. Popeye’s father is the degenerate Poopdeck Pappy, who is, by all accounts, a dead beat dad. Popeye’s sweetheart has been Olive Oyl. Their relationship is mostly loving, although the two characters often bickered, especially at the beginning of Popeye’s appearances. Popeye is the adoptive father of Swee’Pea, an infant foundling left on his doorstep.
Okay, now that you are up to speed, on with the review. This second collection of 31 cartoons finds Popeye and company bullfighting, cleaning his home and trying to find Swee’Pea after she goes missing in the city. For some reason, Bluto is missing through much of these episodes, so when he appears, he brings his competition for Olive Oyl’s affection with him.
Popeye and Bluto also compete at a penny arcade and experience a rare display of restraint when in one episode; the fan club begs the two to act more like gentleman. The antics that follow are hilarious and classic Popeye schtick.
Also, the episode entitled “The Jeep” gives fans a first look at Popeye’s strange dog like pet. There is also an episode that features Popeye, Ali Baba and Sinbad.
Who could believe that Bluto and Popeye would want play Romeo in a local production of Romeo and Juliet? Popeye and Bluto desperately fight to win a part so that they can impress Olive Oyl.
Popeye, it would seem, has had the acting bug for awhile, In one episode, he tries to impress a director with his physical prowess in order to get a job as a stuntman. Popeye even time travels in this collection and finds himself in medieval times to display his archery skills.
If you are already a Popeye the Sailor fan and already have the first set, this is a must have DVD for your collection. If you haven’t discovered Popeye yet or just a fan of classic cartoons, you are going to enjoy this collection. The sense of humor and stories are a welcome blast from the past in this world of Viva Pinata and Sonic X.
Popeye the Sailor: 1938-1940 Volume Two is presented in full frame. The transfer is decent, if for a bit of wear apparent in the original cartoons.
Popeye the Sailor: 1938-1940 Volume Two is presented in mono. The dialogue is clear and easily understood. There are also subtitles for the deaf and hearing impaired.
The Packaging and Bonus Features
Popeye the Sailor: 1938-1940 Volume Two is presented in a two disc amaray case with cardboard slip cover with a vintage image of the famous sailor on the cover.
There are some nice bonus features included in this release. Out of the Inkwell: the Fleischer Story is a 48 minute documentary about Fleisher’s career. It is narrated by Carl Reiner and is definitely a worthwhile watch.
On each disc, there are Popeye Popumentaries, which are short programs that discuss different aspects of the Popeye franchise. One of these compares and contrasts the traits of Popeye and Superman and speculates if Popeye could be considered a superhero of his time. These are all great and feature everyone from television and comics writer Paul Dini to comics historian Michael Uslan to Sam Viviano, a Mad Magazine alumini.
Rare extra Fleischer shorts and pencil tests for Females is Fickle is offered. Also, there are commentaries with current animators and experts discussing the merits of the Popeye cartoons.
Storyboard reel for Stealin Ain’t Honest and a terrible Olive Oyl imitation is featured on an audio only commercial recording of I’m Popeye the Sailor Man.
Early Max Fleischer Art Gallery shows 19 drawings from Fleischer childhood sketchbook.
Animator Michael Sporn interviews Jack Mercer, a Popeye voice actor. Finally, there are trailers for other Warner Home Video releases.
All things considered, a virtual cornucopia of bonus material to explore on this release.
Overall (Not an Average) 7/10
The Series 7/10
The Video 6/10
The Audio 6/10
The Packaging and Bonus Features 8/10
Overall (Not an Average) 7/10