Popeye The Sailor is a mainstay of early cartoon shorts. While the image of the surly sailor has been with us since 1929 in the King Features comic strip and later the cartoons of the 1930s and 40s, Popeye is still recognized by most of the public to this day. However, these shorts from 1941-1943 show another spin on the Popeye character: World War 2 sailor and fighter for the good ole’ USA
Popeye The Sailor 1941-1943 has the traditional cartoons of Popeye fighting Bluto, his main nemesis, and trying to get the affections of Olive Oyl, his heroin chic love interest. However, this set features many of the World War 2 cartoons used to promote the United States and show the Axis powers and bumbling and evil.
As a fan of cartoons, I really enjoy most of the short cartoons of the 30s to 60s. It seems that cartoons of today lack the sort of play on words and slapstick humor that permeates the classics. Popeye is no different in this respect. There are the usual cartoon stereotypes that do not seem to grow old thankfully. Most of the cartoons on this set are trademark Popeye. We see him get angry and upset while swooning for Olive Oyl. These are mainstays that stay funny no manner when an audience watches them. For added measure, Popeye’s dim witted father and nephews make an appearance. Of course, spinach still gives our hero strength to defeat Bluto. I found these cartoons rather funny and hold up rather well.
There is a bit of controversy with this release however. Like most cartoon and comic book icons, Popeye enlisted to help the United States win World War 2. In fact, Popeye trades in his trademark black shirt and blue pants for a typical naval sailor suit. While the gags are similar, Popeye faces the Germans and Japanese of WW2 along with the stereotypes used at the time to represent them. Warner Brothers has taken great measure to make sure the audience understands the context of these cartoons and has thankfully not censored them. I applaud them on this move to give the public the cartoons as they were, warts and all.
Overall, this set is a great addition to any Popeye or classic cartoon library. In fact, the World War 2 cartoons are suitable for a history or popular culture class to show how cartoons acted as propaganda of sorts for the war. Which, I’m not saying is all together a bad thing.
The format is standard, not widescreen. However, this is the original aspect of the shorts. It is nice to see them in the way they were intended, not forced into a pseudo widescreen format. The remastering is phenomenal on this release. In fact, the only grain comes from the imperfections in the film cartoons themselves. It literally looks like a first run 35mm print. Glad that Popeye is presented in a way that cleans up the messes on the film, but also gives us an accurate representation of 1940s cartoons.
This feature is in Mono, but Dolby Digital Mono. Keep in mind, at the time of these releases Mono was the standard format. The sound, like the video, is accurate of the time. It would be a travesty to try and redub these cartoons. The voices come out as perfect as when they were first presented. Just turn up your speakers and enjoy the nostalgia trip.
The Packaging and Bonus Features
The packaging and special features make this 2 disc set worth it on their own. For the package, the blue gives a classic animation feel and the font of the titles pops out in bold black. Warner Brothers have pulled out all of the stops for this release. For select episodes, there is commentary from film historian Jerry Beck and the son of the director/animator Myron Waldman. Along with the commentary, we are treated to 3 documentaries: Directing the Sailor: the Art of Myron Waldman, Popeye: the Mighty Ensign, and Pip-Eye, Pup-Eye, Poop-Eye, an’ Peep -Eye: Chips Off the Old Salt. I found these documentaries well made and helpful for any cinematic or animation scholarship as well as entertaining. In addition, 3 of the original 1920s Inkwell shorts are included. Just for special features, this set is worth a purchase.
Overall (Not an Average) 9.5/10
The Movie 9/10
The Video 10/10
The Audio 9/10
The Packaging and Bonus Features 10/10
Overall (Not an Average) 9.5/10