POPEYE THE SAILOR:
I biffs 'em and buffs 'em
Although Popeye cartoons aired every day in syndication when I was growing up, these classic animated shorts became more and more difficult to see in recent years. 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 silver 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.
Warner Home Video’s third volume of Popeye animated shorts marks the transition period for these classic cartoons, moving from the Fleischer era into the Famous Studios era. Other notable changes to the Popeye cartoons came from influence of the era in which they were produced. As America entered WWII, Popeye transitioned from independent merchant seaman to a sailor in the United States Navy. Additionally, some anti-axis propaganda also managed to find its way into the cartoons. Some of the more politically incorrect propaganda requires that this set come equipped with a disclaimer, but fortunately the animated shorts themselves are presented unedited. Additionally, Look for Popeye’s mischievous nephews Peepeye, Pupeye, Pipeye, and Poopeye to make some appearances in this set, as well as more from Popeye’s reprobate father Poopdeck Pappy.
POPEYE THE SAILOR: 1941-1943, VOLUME 3 ($35) brings together a collection of the next thirty-two animated shorts, which are as follows: Problem Pappy, Quiet! Pleeze, Olive's Sweepstakes Ticket, Flies Ain't Human, Popeye Meets Rip Van Winkle, Olive's Boithday Presink, Child Psykolojiky, Pest Pilot, I'll Never Crow Again, The Mighty Navy, Nix On Hypnotricks, Kickin' The Conga 'round, Blunder Below, Fleets Of Stren'th, Pip-Eye, Pup-Eye, Poop-Eye And Peep-Eye, Olive Oyl And Water Don't Mix, Many Tanks, Baby Wants A Bottleship, You're A Sap, Mr. Jap, Alona On The Sarong Seas, A Hull Of A Mess, Scrap The Japs, Me Musical Nephews, Spinach Fer Britain, Seein' Red, White 'n' Blue, Too Weak To Work, A Jolly Good Furlough, Ration Fer The Duration, The Hungry Goat, Happy Birthdaze, Wood-Peckin', and Cartoons Ain't Human.
Warner Home Video continues their track record of excellence with POPEYE THE SAILOR: 1941-1943, VOLUME 3 offering these black and white animated shorts in fine looking presentations, which have been transcribed in their proper 1.37:1 full screen aspect ratios. Like the preceding two sets, image sharpness and detail are really quite good for 2D cell animation produced close to seven decades ago. Blacks are inky, whites are crisp and the picture produces very good levels of contrast and grayscale. The film elements, from which the shorts have been mastered, do show an occasional hiccup, but for the most part, appear clean with most signs of age being minimized. Of course, some scratches, dirt, blemishes and a bit of strobing are still present. To varying degrees, one will notice a grain in each of the shorts, but it never becomes objectionable. Digital compression artifacts maintain a low profile.
The Dolby Digital monaural soundtracks are solid enough and don’t demonstrate any excessive flaws for animated shorts produced close to seventy years ago. As expected, the fidelity of these soundtracks is quite limited due to the era in which the shorts were originally recorded. Fortunately, most signs of background hiss and noise have been cleaned up in the mastering process, which leaves generally smooth sounding tracks. Dialogue is crisp and totally understandable. 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 previous sets, select animated shorts contained here feature running Audio Commentaries. Next one will find three Popeye Popumentaries, which are short programs of varying length that supplement individual cartoons, characters or subjects. Forging the Frame: The Roots Of Animation, 1921-1930 is a larger documentary that looks at the history of animation during this period. Three Bonus Out Of The Inkwell Shorts are also included, as is an early Western Electric animated short with synchronized sound.
Popeye remains one of the great cartoon characters of all time. Warner’s third DVD collection will tickle fans. Like the first two collections, POPEYE THE SAILOR: 1941-1943, VOLUME 3 comes very highly recommended.
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