Plot: What’s it about?
The term icon is used far too often, but in the field of animation, Popeye is a true icon. The sailor man with the anchor tattoo, oversized forearms, and love of spinach is a character almost anyone could recognize, regardless of age or location. His pipe and short temper probably wouldn’t go over if he was a new creation these days, but Popeye has won over generations of fans and continues to be a beloved character. This second volume of classic Popeye cartoons features 31 of the sailor man’s adventures, in a nice two disc collection. See Popeye and Bluto go toe-to-toe time and time again over the affections of Olive Oyl, while Wimpy simply tries to find his next hamburger. These classic cartoons still hold up and were a pleasure to revisit in this collection.
I have loved Warner’s classic cartoon releases, from The Flintstones to Wacky Races and beyond. Now I can add another great character to the list, as Popeye has been given the royal treatment. This release compiles 31 cartoons from 1938-40, plus throws in a slew of bonus materials to keep even the most demanding fans satisfied. As I watched these episodes, I couldn’t help but marvel at how varied the stories seem, even though the premise is the same in most. But in the hands of skilled writers and animators, the same story can be told countless times and never seem rehashed. The characters help things of course, since Popeye, Bluto, Olive Oyl, and even Wimpy are well crafted and effective. Now, Popeye stands as one of the true icons of animation and with good reason, as seen in these cartoons. I had so much fun with this collection and if you’re even a casual fan of classic cartoons, you won’t want to miss Popeye the Sailor: 1938-1940.
Video: How does it look?
The cartoons are presented in full frame, as intended. Aside from select color cartoons, they’re all in black & white and look good, if a little worn. The prints run the spectrum, some look more than decent and others have a lot of scratches of debris, but none look that bad, all things considered. Could they use a clean up? Of course, but for cartoons of this vintage, I think the ones found here look solid and fans should be pleased overall.
Audio: How does it sound?
The mono soundtracks sound good, much clearer than I had expected. I heard very little unwanted noise, so harshness or hiss never prove to be concerns. I will say that, as expected for seventy year old mono soundtracks, the audio is thin, but in this case that is almost unavoidable, I would think. The soundtracks provide solid audio and no serious problems, which is all we can ask here. This release also includes French soundtracks, as well as optional English subtitles.
Supplements: What are the extras?
Out of the Inkwell: The Fleischer Story takes us inside the studio that made Popeye an icon, in specific the two brothers who were the driving force behind the work. This isn’t as in depth as it could have been, but provides a nice overview of the brothers and how the studio became such a force. You’ll also find a number of “Popumentaries,” which are brief, but focused featurettes with folks back from the main documentary. Some of the cartoons have audio comments from animators, historians, and others, which prove to be worth a listen, to be sure. This release also includes an interview with Jack Mercer, archival materials from Fleischer Studios, and a bonus cartoon.