Tuesday 14 August 2012

Classic Cartoons #10 - Popeye the Sailor

Our last Classic Cartoon was Superman, AKA The Mad Scientist, the first in the critically revered Superman short film series from Fleischer Studios. The Superman shorts were the Fleischers' last hurrah, as, despite critical adulation and an Academy Award nomination for the first in the series, the high budget meant that the Fleischers soon ran out of funds, and Paramount, their financiers and distributors, soon ran out of patience. Amidst personal squabbles between brothers, Max and Dave, Paramount acquired the Fleischer Studios, and fired the brothers, renaming it Famous Studios in 1942.

However, the Fleischers had experienced much success prior to this. In their heyday, Fleischer Studios was the most significant competitor to Walt Disney and his cartoons. In fact, at one time, one of the Fleischers' series eclipsed Disney and Mickey Mouse in terms of popularity: Popeye the Sailor. Based on the Thimble Theatre comic strip, the Popeye cartoons were huge successes and inspired popular culture for years to come.

The first appearance of Popeye - as well as his love-interest, Olive Oyl, and his nemesis, Bluto - was actually in this Betty Boop cartoon from 1933. Indicative of things to come though, Boop was merely a cameo, whereas Popeye was the focus. Popeye would later get his series of theatrical cartoons - starting with I Yam What I Yam later that year - and the famous theme song, the outdated - but wonderful and hilarious - rubber hose animation and the beloved characters made Popeye the Sailor, both today's Classic Cartoon and the series it spawned, huge hits.

Don't forget, as well, that Sony Pictures Animation are moving ahead with a CG Popeye film, directed by Hotel Transylvania helmer, Genndy Tartakovsky.

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