1. Big Cartoon Forum

    You WIll Need To Reset Your Password!!!

    We just moved hosts on this system, and this has caused a few updates. One is the way we encode and store the encoded passwords.

    Your old passwords will NOT work. You will need to reset your password. This is normal. Just click on reset password from the log in screen. Should be smooth as silk to do...

    Sorry for the hassle.

    Dave Koch
  2. Big Cartoon Forum

    Are You Just Hanging Out?

    Just lurking? Join the club, we'd love to have you in the Big Cartoon Forum! Sign up is easy- just enter your name and password.... or join using your Facebook account!

    Membership has it's privileges... you can post and get your questions answered directly. But you can also join our community, and help other people with their questions, You can add to the discussion. And it's free! So join today!

    Dave Koch
  3. Big Cartoon Forum

    Other Side Of Maleficent

    I have been looking forward to Maleficent with equal amounts of anticipation and dread. On one hand, she is easily my favorite Disney villain, so cold and so pure, and I want desperately to see more of her and her back-story. On the other hand, she is easily my favorite Disney villain, and I would hate to see her parodied, taken lightly or ultimately destroyed in a film that does not understand this great character. The good news is that this film almost gets it right; but that is also the bad news.

  4. Big Cartoon Forum

    BCDB Hits 150K Entries

    It took a while, but we are finally here! The Big Cartoon DataBase hit the milestone of 150,000 entries earlier today with the addition of the cartoon The Polish Language. This film was added to BCDB on May 9th, 2014 at 4:23 PM.

  5. Big Cartoon Forum

    Warner Brings Back Animated Stone-Age Family

    Funnyman Will Ferrell and partner Adam McKay are working on bringing back everyone’s favorite stone-age family. The duo’s production company Gary Sanchez Productions is in development on a new Flintstones animated feature.

  6. Big Cartoon Forum

    Disney To Feast In France

    The follow up to Disney’s 2013 Academy Award Winning short Paperman has been announced, and it will premiere at France’s Annecy International Animated Film Festival. Titled The Feast, the short looks to be based on the same stylized CG techniques used on last years Paperman, a more natural and hand-drawn look to computer animation.

  7. Big Cartoon Forum

    Renegades of Animation: Pat Sullivan

    Pat Sullivan became famous worldwide for his creation of Felix the Cat. What most animation histories gloss over is Sullivan’s checkered past and longtime standing as a wildcat renegade. He didn’t follow the rules. And he made damn sure to fully protect his intellectual properties.

Popeye the Sailor, Vol. 2, rises above limitations

Discussion in 'The Animated Word' started by Dave Koch, Jan 24, 2014.

  1. Dave Koch

    Dave Koch Cartoon Admin

    Oct 27, 2013
    Likes Received:
    Trophy Points:
    Popeye the Sailor, Volume 2: 1938-1940


    To say that there has been a lot of buzz surrounding the second installment of Warner Home Video’s Popeye the Sailor franchise, which hit store shelves on June 17th, would be a gross understatement. Most of what has been written about this DVD set, thus far, revolves around the overall visual quality of the cartoons contained therein.

    As far as the restorations of the cartoons in this volume are concerned; yes, a number of them do show their age more readily here than those contained in Volume 1. In addition to the presence of light, but consistent, film scratches on some of these; there are instances where sprocket-hole damage, film-shrinkage, warping and other visual anomalies are also noticeable (see below). But, honestly, we’re talking about vintage films that are 50 years old. The fact that all of the Popeye theatrical cartoons have survived, to different degrees, over the years is nothing short of miraculous; especially when one considers the wholesale butchery to which they’ve been subjected at the hands of television distributors. On the whole, the black-and-white cartoons presented here definitely look and sound better than they have in decades.1


    The a.a.p. main-title card from Hello, How Am I?

    There is, on the other hand, the issue of the two erroneous main-title cards (see the examples, above and below) which appear on Disc 1. Apparently during the digital mastering process for the current volume someone at WHV wasn’t paying close attention; with the result that two “Associated Artists Productions” (a.a.p.) television prints, with their own generic-looking title-cards, wound up on the set. The AAP title-card appears just before the standard title-card sequence with the opening and closing ship-doors, with an abrupt jump-cut between the two. The two cartoons on Disc 1 which were affected are Hello, How Am I? and Customers Wanted.2
    To their credit, WHV anticipated that a number of customers might complain about the erroneous titles and immediately launched what some are calling a “pre-emptive strike”; in that they initiated a DVD-replacement program well before the official release date. If they truly had even a modicum of foresight, however, they would have simply paid closer attention to what they were doing; so that the mistakes in question wouldn’t have occurred in the first place. Anyone who recently purchased a copy of Popeye the Sailor, Volume 2 can call Warner Home Video at this toll-free number, 1-800-553-6937, to request a free replacement DVD for Disc 1.


    The a.a.p. main-title card for Customers Wanted

    Because the replacement DVD's are being offered for free (and because I personally would like to own all of the cartoons with their original main-titles) I went ahead and called WHV to order one for myself. The initial process was quick and painless. I should add that if anyone else has ordered replacement discs in the past from WHV, either for the Tom and Jerry Spotlight Collection, Vols. 1 and 2 or the Looney Tunes Golden Collection, Vol. 2; your name and address should already be in their customer database. If not, you can simply give it to them again over the phone. Ultimately, the replacement DVD will be mailed out in a self-addressed, stamped envelope; with an additional DVD sleeve in which to insert the defective DVD. Unfortunately, I was informed one of by WHV’s Customer Service Representatives that the replacement DVD's for Popeye the Sailor, Vol. 2 will not actually be in stock until the last week of August. It will then take another two weeks for the actual processing and mailing of the replacement DVD's, so I don’t expect to receive mine until the middle of September. I’m hoping that perhaps the representative with whom I spoke on the phone was actually mistaken about when those DVD's will be in stock.


    The main-title card used on four of the Popeye cartoons released in 1939

    WHV has made a number of format changes to both the present volume and presumably to the remaining installments of the DVD series as a whole. For starters they have abandoned the 4-disc format of the first volume and have now split what was originally conceived as Volume 2 into two discrete 2-disc sets. The second of these 2-disc sets (Volume 3) will be released in September and will contain the remaining black-and-white Fleischer Popeye cartoons; as well as the first batch of Famous Studios cartoons. The upside of all this is the greater affordability of a 2-disc set as opposed to one containing four discs; not to mention the fact that the remaining volumes will most likely be released more frequently at an average rate of two volumes per year.

    Always the gentleman, Popeye prepares to catch Olive in A Date to Skate (1938)

    The present volume also comes in a much slimmer DVD case which unfortunately continues to utilize that annoying “stacked-disc” method of packaging that WHV adopted nearly two years ago. When I got my set from Amazon I had difficulty extricating the folding cardboard and plastic DVD case from its slip-cover, because Disc 1 had become dislodged during shipment and was wedged between the case and its cover. I grimaced as I yanked at the inner DVD case because I could just imagine the damage that was being inflicted on the disc. Sure enough, the disc had sustained a number of scratches on the playing surface but these were not serious enough to cause mistracking upon playback. No matter, I’ll be getting a replacement for that disc in the mail soon enough. I have no complaints about the cover-design on this volume, however, nor about the cover-design of the forthcoming Volume 3. The overall cover-design is simple and uncluttered, while at the same time eye-catching. I’m also glad that the characters on the cover actually look as they do in the cartoons. Too often I’ve seen character designs on the covers of animation DVD sets that were horribly off-model.

    Wacky waterworks in Plumbing is a "Pipe" (1938)

    Because this is a two-disc volume it contains approximately half the number of Popeye cartoons of the previous volume (31 to be exact). All of the ones included here, however, are worth having as they demonstrate that the series was far from becoming stale at this point in the chronology. Indeed, for anyone who is seeing the Fleischer Popeye cartoons for the very first time, Volume 2 makes an excellent introduction to the series. Every cartoon presented in this volume is a gem; including two of my all-time favorites, Plumbing is a “Pipe” and A Date to Skate.

    Popeye and Bluto, acting "rough-fined", in It's the Natural Thing to Do (1939)

    There is a notable gap of about nine cartoons, between Popeye Meets Ali Baba (on Disc 2 of Vol. 1) and Customers Wanted, in which Bluto does not appear. This was largely due to the fact that voice-actor Gus Wickie, who did the voice of Bluto, died just prior to the Fleischer Studio’s move from New York to Miami in 1938. The Fleischers reportedly wanted to discontinue the Bluto character following Gus Wickie’s death but ultimately assigned the role to Jack “Pinto” Colvig (who had recently left Disney and was working at the Fleischer Studio as a writer and voice-actor); beginning with It’s the Natural Thing to Do.3 In this and the cartoons featuring Bluto that followed it, the peculiar nature of his antagonistic relationship with Popeye becomes a little more clearly-defined. One eventually comes to realize that these two recalcitrant swabs are happiest when they are kicking the living s**t out of one another. Popeye, ultimately, cannot get along without his long-time foe. In Fightin’ Pals Popeye travels to darkest Africa to rescue “Dr. Bluto” (never mind how this guy even finished Kindergarten, let alone earned a Ph.D.) after learning he has been presumed lost during an expedition.

    Bluto takes a break from Popeye's beatings in Fightin' Pals (1940)

    Mae Questel was another of the Fleischer voice-actors who did not make the move to Miami. Her decision to remain in New York was based primarily on wanting to stay and raise a family. Olive Oyl’s voice was taken over by actress Margie Hines, who did the voice from 1938-1944 (including the transitional period of 1941-42 when Famous Studios took over cartoon production from the Fleischers). Over time Hines imbued her unique voice–characterization of Olive with an approximation of the vocal-timbre and mannerisms of film comedienne Zasu Pitts. Mme. Hines and Mssrs. Colvig and Mercer can be heard in good form as they sing a bastardized version of "Ach, so fromm" from Flotow’s opera, Martha, in Shakespearian Spinach.

    The one color cartoon contained in this volume, Aladdin and His Wonderful Lamp, has been beautifully-restored and has its original opening titles. Aladdin was the last of the three Technicolor Popeye “Specials” produced by the Fleischer Studio and it differs from the previous two titles in two ways: First, it does not utilize the table-top 3D background sets that made the visuals in Popeye Meets Sinbad the Sailor and Popeye Meets Ali Baba and His Forty Thieves so incredibly sumptuous; although the standard 2-D backgrounds are still impressive in and of themselves.4 Second, the beginning of this cartoon actually takes place in the present day and is set in the office of Surprise Pictures’ Screenwriter, Olive Oyl. Olive’s opening monologue is spoken in verse, just as in the expositions to the previous two color cartoons. Using the narrative device of the film-within-a-film, the cartoon quickly transports the viewer back to the time and locale of the Tales of the Arabian Nights.

    The evil Wazzir takes Aladdin into his confidence: a scene from Aladdin and His Wonderful Lamp (1939)

    Popeye, in the role of Aladdin, is more of a romantic lead in this cartoon than in the previous two. He is even given a catchy signature-tune, “What Can I Do For You” (possibly one of Jack Mercer’s best vocal performances), to sing mid-way through the plot. Although Mae Questel had long-ago proved a formidable match for Jack Mercer in her ability to rattle-off glib one-liners, Hines demonstrates that she, too, can hold her own; when she ad-libs at one point during the climactic fight scene and addresses “Aladdin” as “Popeye”. In one of the three “Popeye Popumentaries” featured on Disc 1, it is revealed that Hines and Mercer had met during production of Aladdin and His Wonderful Lamp and were subsequently married.5


    "Hair today, goon tomorrow..." Popeye disguises himself in order to infiltrate Goonland (1938)

    The period from 1938-1940 also saw the introduction of secondary characters that had previously been featured in Segar’s Thimble Theatre comic strip. The Goon (a bulbous-nosed, Neanderthal-type) is featured in Goonland; which is also the name of the uncharted island from which Popeye must rescue his long-lost father. “Poopdeck Pappy”, a crotchety but lovable old salt, appears in this and two other Popeye cartoons; My Pop, My Pop and With Poopdeck Pappy. In all three cartoons Popeye has his hands full trying to keep the elder seaman out of mischief.


    Eugene is in a playful mood in this scene from The Jeep (1938)

    Eugene the Jeep (a mystical, rather odd-looking, dog-like creature) appears in two cartoons: The Jeep and Popeye Presents Eugene, The Jeep. In both of these the pixie-like pooch perpetually perplexes Popeye (try saying that three-times fast) with his ability to walk through solid objects and to disappear and reappear at will. Unfortunately the original elements used to re-master The Jeep had over the decades sustained a significant amount of film shrinkage and warping; so that at the beginning of the cartoon there is a noticeable “wobbliness”. The remainder of the cartoon is less-problematic.6 This wobbliness also appears very briefly at the start of the main-title cards to Never Sock a Baby and is noticeable to a far-lesser degree in other cartoons, as well.


    A modified main-title card from 1940

    Wimmin is a Myskery introduced contemporary audiences to “Pep-Eye”, “Pup-Eye”, “Pip-Eye” and “Peep-Eye”; four miniature versions of Popeye who, like Donald Duck’s nephews, Huey, Dewey and Louie, would split everything they said on-screen into equal, fragmented phrases. Whereas an explanation of the ducklings’ origins was provided in Donald’s Nephews (1938), however, the actual parentage of these “chips off the old block-head” (as Olive Oyl refers to them) remains a mystery to this day. In this cartoon, written by Warner Bros. alumnus Tedd Pierce (here credited as “Ted” Pierce), they are depicted as Popeye’s and Olive’s children during Olive’s pre-nuptial dream-sequence. In subsequent cartoons, however, they were billed as Popeye’s nephews. Their names were officially changed in the 1942 cartoon, Pip-Eye, Pup-Eye, Poop-Eye an’ Peep-Eye, and they more-or-less continued to be referred to as such for the remainder of the theatrical series’ run.7


    Popeye pops the question to Olive in Wimmin is a Myskery (1940)

    Popeye’s personality was already well-established in the Fleischer cartoons of the mid-to-late 1930’s and he proved to be a well-rounded, three-dimensional character in such cartoons as Be Kind to Aminals and Let’s Celebrake. His kind-heartedness and moral-fortitude are further in evidence in later entries like Bulldozing the Bull, in which he refuses to participate in a bullfight because it’s a cruel and vulgar sport. Despite his abhorrence for bullfighting, though, he apparently has no compunction about body-slamming the bull just enough to get his point across. Popeye’s refusal to Leave Well Enough Alone creates major havoc in the city when, through his good (but woefully-misguided) intentions, he turns every bird and beast loose from a nearby pet shop. Everyone, that is, except for an itinerant parrot that prefers to stay put in its birdcage. The parrot repeatedly sings the title song as a warning to Popeye about the potential consequences of his actions. In Popeye Meets William Tell (with direction by an uncredited James "Shamus" Culhane) he pretends to be the son of the famous archer in order to save him from the gallows. This cartoon features some interesting cuts from one scene to the next and great character-animation. Culhane was just one of many West Coast artists (including a fair number of them from Disney) who had at this time migrated to the Fleischer Studio. Not surprisingly, the cartoons began at this time to exhibit a marked improvement in overall production values.


    The "son" also rises: a highly-improbable scene from Popeye Meets William Tell (1940)

    On Disc 1 are featured two particularly-odd cartoons; the bizarre visual-style of which harks back to the Fleischers’ of the “Talkartoons” and Betty Boop cartoons of the early 1930’s:

    The first time I had seen I Yam Love-Sick on TV, I naturally assumed that it was one of the earlier Popeye cartoons from around 1933 or 1934. I was greatly surprised, then, when it was listed here in Volume 2 as one of the last cartoons produced as late as 1938. Popeye, in order to gain sympathy and attention from a rather frigid Olive Oyl, feigns a serious illness from which not even his trusty spinach can rescue him. The scenes where Olive chases after first an ambulance and then a pair of orderlies are wonderfully surreal; with the endless hospital corridors looking like something right out of The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari.


    Good thing he's got Blue Cross... a scene from I Yam Love Sick (1938)

    Wotta Nitemare, produced shortly after the Fleischers had re-settled in Miami, is quite possibly the most surreal Fleischer cartoon ever produced; second only, perhaps, to Snow White (starring Betty Boop). Willard Bowsky was the principal animator on this cartoon and it has been suggested that working on it may have provided something of a catharsis for him personally; as he reportedly was at that time still quite uncomfortable about having had to pull up stakes and leave New York. Look for very brief cameos by Swee’ Pea, Eugene the Jeep and Wimpy (who, during the picnic scene in Heaven, uncharacteristically swipes a bowl of spinach and leaves behind a platter of hamburgers).


    One of the more bizzare moments from Wotta Nitemare (1939)

    Bonus features in Volume 2 are plentiful. In addition to the four “Popeye Popumentaries” (three on Disc 1 and one on Disc 2) and the “Popular Science” documentary short that was included in Thunderbean Animation’s earlier DVD compilation; there is a gallery featuring early Fleischer artwork, an audio interview with Jack Mercer and a vintage recording of “I’m Popeye the Sailor Man”. The most important item for Fleischer fans and cartoon history buffs, however, is a storyboard reel for Stealin’ Ain’t Honest. In this unique juxtaposition of storyboard sketches, layout drawings and the finished cartoon, a complete scene-by-scene animator breakdown is provided; giving the viewer a better glimpse of the way these cartoons were produced. Another rarity (also featured on Thunderbean’s compilation) is a brief pencil-test from Females is Fickle. Whereas the filming of pencil tests was standard-procedure at other studios like Disney, Warner Bros. and MGM, this is one of the few ever done at the Fleischer Studio.

    Nearly half of the cartoons in this volume have informative and insightful audio commentaries by Michael Barrier, Jerry Beck, Paul Dini, Greg Ford, Eric Goldberg, Daniel Goldmark, Bob Jaques, Mark Kausler and Glenn Mitchell. Barrier's and Ford's commentaries are especially valuable becuase some of them include vintage interview clips with former Fleischer Studio staffers Shamus Culhane, Arnold Gillespie, Gordon Sheehan and Dave Tendlar. Neither John K. nor the members of his entourage were asked to provide commentaries this time around... and for that I am personally grateful!


    A frame from a rare pencil-test for Females is Fickle (1940)

    The one bonus feature in Volume 2 that unfortunately falls short is the retrospective documentary, Out of the Inkwell: The Fleischer Story, which is included on Disc 1. At best, this is a bland chronological overview of the Fleischer Studio’s history; but it tends to gloss over several important details. For example, there is no mention whatsoever of the circumstances (e.g., the irreparable rift between Dave and Max Fleischer over Dave’s clandestine love affair and subsequent divorce) which ultimately led to Paramount Pictures’ takeover of the studio in 1942. Some people have speculated that this particular omission may have been done partially at the request of Dave Fleischer’s family.

    The documentary features clips from a number of Popeye, Betty Boop and earlier “Out of the Inkwell” cartoons; as well from the two animated feature films produced by the Fleischers, Gulliver’s Travels and Mr. Bug Goes to Town. When Volume 2 was originally announced as a proposed 4-DVD set, there were rumors that Gulliver’s Travels would be included as a bonus feature. Sadly, this turns out not to have been the case. The film still remains in the public domain, with no immediate plans for an official release on the horizon (reportedly, problems with the music rights to the film have prevented this). Mr. Bug Goes to Town was recently released on DVD by Legend Films and re-titled as Bugville. The film as presented on that DVD is complete and uncut, sans the original Paramount opening and closing titles, and visually is somewhat of an improvement over previous PD video releases.


    Superman has his hands full in The Mechanical Monsters (1941)

    Finally, Warner Home Video has also seen fit to include one non-popeye cartoon from 1941: The Mechanical Monsters. This was the second entry in the Fleischer Superman series and it is one of the best. Unfortunately the print used is not nearly as clean as the one featured in Bosko Video's DVD compilation, The Complete Superman Collection: Diamond Anniversary Edition. There are also a couple of aural "drop-outs" near the beginning of the cartoon. Incidentally, this version for some strange reason includes the the opening narrated prologue from Superman, the very first cartoon in the series. An un-tampered copy (minus the prologue and in better visual-shape) of The Mechanical Monsters is currently posted on YouTube.

    All in all, this volume in the Popeye franchise is a worthy addition to anyone’s DVD library; despite some of the inconsistencies in visual-quality. The fact that Popeye the Sailor, Volume 2 is currently available and that Volume 3 will come out in September apparently means that enough customers had purchased copies of Volume 1 to justify their release. Warner Bros. Home Entertainment has a keen eye on the bottom line; so by all means pick up a copy of this DVD set if you want to see the series completed by the year 2010.

    One word of warning, though; you most likely will want to fast-forward through the trailers, at the start of Disc 2, for the upcoming Scooby-Doo and Richie Rich Show DVD from Warner Bros. Home Entertainment. The same goes for the lame anti-piracy PSA featured at the beginning of Disc 1, which makes comparisons to (and features clips from) MGM’s The Wizard of Oz.

    My rating for this set is as follows:

    [​IMG][​IMG][​IMG][​IMG] = Excellent

    [​IMG][​IMG][​IMG] = Good

    [​IMG][​IMG] = Fair

    [​IMG] = Poor

    Visual-Quality [​IMG][​IMG][​IMG]([​IMG]) (Because of the aforementioned film-element anomalies, plus the erroneous main-titles for two cartoons. If I'm happy with the corrections made on the replacement DVD for Disc 1, however, I'll upgrade the overall rating to [​IMG][​IMG][​IMG][​IMG])

    11/04/08 Please note: the rating for Visual-Quality has now actually been downgraded from [​IMG][​IMG][​IMG]([​IMG]) to [​IMG][​IMG][​IMG]([​IMG]) (see my post-script below)

    Sound-Quality [​IMG][​IMG][​IMG]([​IMG]) (Because of the drop-outs and the erroneous narrated-prologue at the beginning of The Mechanical Monsters.)

    Bonus Features [​IMG][​IMG]([​IMG]) (The one snag being the disappointing "Out of the Inkwell" documentary on Disc 1.)

    Package Design [​IMG] (No more stacking discs, please... they get stuck and ultimately may become damaged upon their removal!)

    Value for the Money [​IMG][​IMG][​IMG] (Issuing fewer discs per set ultimately means charging lower retail prices; while at the same time maintaining a substantial number of cartoons and bonus features per set... Keep cranking out more of these volumes, WHV!)

    Special thanks to Eminovitz for editorial corrections and additional information.

    Post-Script 11/04/08: I received my replacement for Disc 1 yesterday from Warner Home Video. The accompanying letter reads as follows:

    Dear Popeye Fan,

    This letter is to confirm that you are participating in the Popeye the Sailor replacement disc program.

    Warner Home video wishes to thank you for purchasing the Popeye the Sailor 1938-1940 Volume Two DVD. In this package we have provided a new Disc #1 to replace the Disc #1 that was inclosed in the Popeye the Sailor Volume Two (2-disc set) you purchased. Enclosed please find a pre-paid, pre-addressed envelope for mailing the original Disc #1 you purchased back to Warner Home Video.

    Thank you for your patience while we processed your replacement disc request.


    Warner Home Video
    Of course there was no explanation from WHV as to why there was month-long delay in getting the replacement discs (they were supposed to have been mailed out near the end of August 2008) I'm happy to report, however, that at least the a.a.p. title-cards (see above) for Hello, How Am I? and Customers Wanted have been replaced here with the (somewhat) original main-titles.

    I should add, however, that each cartoon still has a somewhat truncated opening music-cue. Normally the Fleischer Popeye cartoons opened with the "Sailor's Horn-Pipe" tune, which was followed by an instrumental "vamp" that led into the "I'm Popeye the Sailor Man" theme. In each of these, the hornpipe tune is cut off and only the vamp is heard at the beginning. In any event, here are the replacement titles as they appear at the start of each cartoon (from left to right, top to bottom):
    [​IMG] [​IMG]

    I should also point out that there are a few other errors on Disc #1 which were not corrected on the replacement discs and which I had failed to mention here earlier (my bad). Many thanks to "Leviathan" at the GAC Forums for compiling the following list:

    Bulldozing the Bull: Part of the opening music cuts off; the Paramount logo at the start also jump-cuts to the correct Popeye title-card.

    Goonland: The Paramount logo at the start jumpcuts to the correct Popeye card; the opening music-cue is uncut.

    A Date to Skate: The Paramount logo at the start jump-cuts to the correct Popeye card; the opening music-cue is uncut.

    Cops is Always Right: The Paramount logo at the start jump-cuts to the correct Popeye card, the opening music-cue is uncut.

    It's the Natural Thing to Do: Part of the opening music-cue is cut off; the incorrect Paramount logo at the start jump-cuts to the correct Popeye card; plus there are several splices in the opening music-cue.
    Although I haven't yet viewed the entire replacement disc; I have, however, read recent reports over at the GAC Forums to the effect that the only real restorative work done here was on the two aforementioned cartoons with a.a.p. main-titles.

    According to Tom Stathes of the GAC Forums, who owns an original print of Customers Wanted, this is how the opening titles for that cartoon should actually appear on-screen. Note: the Paramount logo and opening title card with the heading, "Paramount Presents A Max Fleischer Cartoon", were actually taken from the beginning of Leave Well Enough Alone for illustrative purposes:




    1 It has been pointed out by others that the soundtracks for some of the 1938-39 cartoons in this set are not as clear-sounding as those made earlier. Animation Historian Ray Pointer (who is arguably the foremost authority on the history of the Fleischer Studio) explains that when the Fleischer Studio moved to their new production facilities in Miami in 1938, there were simply not as many capable musicians on hand as there had been in New York. More often than not, student musicians had to be hired from the local music school with their instructors filling in as first-desk players. The subsequent recording sessions were reportedly miked in such a way that emphasis was given to the better-sounding players. Pointer adds that state-of-the-art sound-recording equipment from Western Electric had been installed at the new facilities, so that any anomalies in some of these cartoon soundtracks are the result of poor microphone placement and mixing choices rather than that of faulty equipment.
    2 Four of the cartoons made in 1939 actually do have a different main-title card that was created shortly after the Fleischer Studio moved to Miami (and which should not be confused with the erroneous AAP title-card which appears on Disc 1). There has been a lot of speculation as to why this different title-card was used; the generally-held belief is that the artwork for the standard “ship-door” main-title sequence was somehow temporarily lost during the move to Miami. Ray Pointer argues that this theory doesn’t make much sense. He maintains that if the artwork had actually been lost or misplaced, it would have been a simple matter for the studio to recreate those main-titles for any subsequent cartoons. It seems most likely, then, that the studio was simply experimenting with a different look for the main-titles. As can be seen from the cartoons from 1940, the “ship-door” title-sequence was ultimately restored by the studio; albeit with a few stylistic modifications. 3 It is said that writer Tedd Pierce briefly did the voice of Bluto for two cartoons and was then replaced by Colvig. Although Colvig was an excellent voice-actor (he had, among other things, previously done the voice of Goofy for years while at Disney), his version of Bluto is unfortunately not nearly menacing enough in character. Colvig provided Bluto’s voice for a total of eight cartoons and did a number of other, incidental voices (including “Gabby” from Gulliver’s Travels) before finally leaving the Fleischer Studio in 1940. When I first saw Aladdin and His Wonderful Lamp on television years ago, I was convinced that the voice of the evil Wazzir was also done by Colvig: The distinctive yell that he emits when he sees that Aladdin has defeated both the vulture and dragon (which he conjures during the cartoon’s climactic fight scene) sounds very much like that heard in the Disney "Goofy" cartoons. According to some sources, however, the voice of the Wazzir was actually provided by studio writer Carl “Mike” Meyer. William Pennel eventually replaced Colvig as the voice of Bluto and continued doing the voice until 1944, when radio actor and announcer Jackson Beck took over.
    4 In the Paramount Presents Popular Science episode (featured on Disc 2), a camera operator at the Fleischers’ Miami Studio is shown at one point setting up a 3-D tabletop layout shot, in which the castle and Vulture featured in Aladdin can clearly be seen. This layout shot, however, does not appear in the finished cartoon. It is not clear if the layout shot was originally planned for Aladdin and subsequently discarded, or if it simply was staged by the Fleischers for the Paramount documentary short. Nothing about it appears to have ever turned up in the Studio’s records. 5 In 1944 Mae Questel resumed her role as Olive Oyl once Famous Studios re-located back to New York from Miami. Although it is not clear just why Margie Hines was let go by Famous Studios at that time; Ray Pointer speculates that her abrupt departure from the studio may possibly have had something to do with her recent divorce from Jack Mercer. Mercer's marriage to Hines reportedly had gone sour shortly after his return home from active duty in the U.S. Navy during the war. 6 At this juncture I should point out that not every cartoon in Volume 2 was re-mastered from the original negatives. Those that were definitely show their age; with some having more noticeable scratches than others at their beginnings. For some cartoons like Plumbing is a Pipe archival prints (possibly 16mm prints in some cases) appear to have been used instead during the digital mastering process; presumably because the original negatives were either lost or had deteriorated to a point that was beyond repair. David Gerstein of the GAC Forums suggests that deterioration of the original negatives was the chief reason why WHV decided to replicate so many of the original opening-titles for cartoons that were featured in Popeye the Sailor, Volume 1. One astute viewer has pointed out that the way to distinguish any film restoration done from a print (as opposed to one utilizing the original negative) is simply by looking at the upper-right corner of the screen or monitor during the last few seconds of running time: The prints of all theatrical feature films and short-subjects have a visual-cue (a black spot in one frame, followed a few frames later by a white “doughnut” in another) imprinted in the upper right-hand corner of the film-frame, near the end of each reel, as a warning to the projectionist that a reel-change is coming up. These visual-cues are added to prints of a film but are not inherent in the original negatives. 7 In the Famous Studios Popeye cartoons of the mid-to-late 1950’s, Popeye’s nephews would gradually be reduced in number from four to three and finally to just two; presumably in order to cut down on animation costs. In the late 1970’s Pip-Eye, Pup-Eye, Poop-Eye an’ Peep-Eye returned en masse in Hanna-Barbera’s All New Popeye Hour.

Share This Page