POPEYE THE SAILOR:
I'm one tough Gazookus
Growing up, I watched Popeye cartoons on a daily basis. Back in the day, there weren’t a million cable stations, there was no reality TV, no annoying talk shows and local daytime broadcast television consisted of old movies, syndicated TV shows and theatrical cartoons repackaged for kids to watch when they got home from school. As times changed, old movies and theatrical cartoons, such as those featuring Popeye the Sailor disappeared from the airwaves. Even with a million cable TV stations becoming the Popeye cartoons remained difficult to see.
Fortunately for Popeye fans, Warner Home Video secured the rights to release these classic cartoons on DVD and issued their first collection in 2007. For those unfamiliar with the character and his history, Popeye the Sailor became the star of the Thimble Theater comic strip created by E.C. Segar, shortly after his debut in 1929. Popeye made the move to the silver screen in 1933, thanks to pioneering animators Dave and Max Fleischer- becoming an instant star on the screen. Popeye’s animated adventures were ultimately so successful, that they continued to be produced for more than decade after the Fleischers were ousted from their studio.
POPEYE THE SAILOR: 1938-1940, VOLUME TWO ($35) brings together a collection of the next thirty-one animated shorts, which are as follows: I Yam Love Sick, Plumbing Is A Pipe, The Jeep, Bulldozing The Bull, Mutiny Ain’t Nice, Goonland, A Date To Skate, Cops Is Always Right, Customers Wanted, Aladdin And His Wonderful Lamp, Leave Well Enough Alone, Wotta Nitemare, Ghosks Is The Bunk, Hello, How Am I, It"S The Natural Thing To Do, Never Sock A Baby, Shalespearian Spinach, Females Is Fickle, Stealin’ Ain’t Honest, Me Feelin’s Is Hurt, Onion Pacific, Wimmin Is A Myskery, Nurse-Mates, Fightin’ Pals, Doin’ Impossikible Stunts, Wimmin Hadn’t Oughta Drive, Puttin On The Act, Popeye Meets William Tell, My Pop, My Pop, With Poopdeck Pappy and Popeye Presents Eugene The Jeep.
Warner Home Video has done a bang up job with POPEYE THE SAILOR: 1938-1940, VOLUME TWO offering these animated shorts in fine looking presentations. The thirty-one animated shorts have been transcribed in their proper 1.37:1 full screen aspect ratios. Like the first set, image sharpness and detail are really quite good for 2D cell animation from seventy and nearly seventy years ago. The black and white shorts feature very good levels of contrast and grayscale. As for the Technicolor two-reeler, it is fairly vibrant and quite nice to look at. The film elements, from which the shorts have been mastered, are generally very clean with the majority of the age related problems having been cleaned up. Of course, some scratches, blemishes and strobing is still present. To varying degrees, one will notice a grain in each of the shorts, but it never becomes objectionable. Digital compression artifacts remain under the radar.
The Dolby Digital monaural soundtracks are just fine for their age. Most signs of background hiss and noise have been cleaned up in the mastering process, which leaves a generally smooth sounding track. As expected, the fidelity of these soundtracks is quite limited due to the era in which the shorts were originally recorded. Dialogue is always easy to understand. No other language tracks are provided, but English subtitles are included.
Music underscores the basic interactive menus, which allow one access to the standard scene selection and set up features, as well as the supplements. Like the first set, select animated shorts contained here feature running Audio Commentaries. Next one will find Popeye Popumentaries, which are short programs of varying length that supplement individual cartoons, characters or subjects and feature titles such titles as: Eugene The Jeep: A Breed Of His Own, Poopdeck Pappy: The Nasty Old Man And The Sea, O-Re-Mi: Mae Questel And The Voices Of Olive Oyl and Men of Spinach and Steel. Out Of The Inkwell: The Fleischer Story is a larger documentary the runs forty-eight minutes and looks at the careers of the pioneering animators. Two Bonus Fleischer Cartoons are also included- Paramount Presents Popular Science and The Mechanical Monsters. An Early Max Fleischer Art Gallery, a Pencil Test for Females Is Fickle, a Storyboard Reel for Stealin' Ain't Honest, an Audio-Only Commercial recording of I'm Popeye the Sailor Man and finally, Animator Michael Sporn Interviewing Famous Popeye Voice Actor Jack Mercer close out the extras.
Popeye remains one of the great cartoon characters of all time. Warner’s second DVD release is certain please fans. POPEYE THE SAILOR: 1938-1940, VOLUME TWO comes very highly recommended.
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