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Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Popeye the Sailor, Volume Three: 1941-1943 Review by Jack T

Review: Popeye the Sailor, Volume Three: 1941-1943

Fans of the Popeye the Sailor will not be disappointed in Warner Bros.’ third installment in the Max Fleischer cartoon series, even though Volume Three wraps up the Fleischer brothers’ final years animating these shorts for Paramount .

Disc one largely consists of the final 18 Max and David Fleischer cartoons, ending with Baby Wants a Bottleship. Obviously, once the 1942 season resumed, all of the shorts change direction—the 1941 season is largely Popeye putting up with and bailing his “Pappy” out of trouble. The next year changes, with far more war-themed storylines and developments. Popeye and Bluto are no longer enemies, but allies in beating up Japanese soldiers and other Axis powers.

In regards to the war-era shorts, they are NOT censored—to WB I say, “thank you.” While many might find the caricatures of Japanese characters in the shorts offensive, they are a product of their time and should remain intact. Removing the offense is even worse than leaving them in. On that note, parents of sensitive children interested in showing them these shorts may want to pre-screen them first.

Special features are abundant on this DVD, with the “Popumentaries” filling in the background of what was going on at Fleischer studios at the time. The documentary, Forging the Frame: the Roots of Animation, included on disc two is a general overview of animators from that period and is put together quite well.

Also included are some vintage Fleischer shorts from the 1920s. The Clown’s Little Brother, The Cartoon Factory, Koko Needles the Boss, and Finding His Voice are all fascinating early examples of animation and are equally entertaining (and in Finding His Voice’s case, educational) as the sound shorts that were to follow them.

Once again, Warner Bros, has outdone themselves in the video department, as these cartoons look as clear as the day they were shot. All of the transfers are presented full-frame 1.33:1 in glorious black and white. Clearly they are working with some original elements here, as gray tones and shadow and highlight detail are all balances and clear, with the right amount of grain. The audio, which is critical to many of these shorts is also clear, albeit somewhat flattened by what sounds to be equalization.

Popeye the Sailor, Volume Three comes on two discs in a cardboard sleeve with overlap case. As I’ve expressed in other reviews, I’m not a fan of these overlap cases, particularly when I’m jogging between shorts between discs, but this is a case of storage rather than convenience and I understand why Warners has chose to present them this way.

Overall, Popeye the Sailor, Volume Three is guaranteed to please all, young and old alike. It represented the last of the greatest of the Popeye cartoons. I hope that Warners keeps the chronological series up in the future rather than the rumored “Best of” sets, but between the first three volumes, I’m a satisfied customer!


  • Problem Pappy - Conversation with Historian Jerry Beck & Steven Waldman
  • Quiet! Pleeze
  • Olive's Sweepstakes Ticket
  • Flies Ain't Human
  • Popeye Meets Rip Van Winkle - Conversation with Historian Jerry Beck & Steven Waldman
  • Olive's Boithday Presink
  • Child Psykolojiky
  • Pest Pilot
  • I'll Never Crow Again
  • The Mighty Navy - Commentary by Historian Jerry Beck & Director Bob Jaques
  • 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


  • 3 Popeye Popumentaries
    • Directing the Sailor: The Art of Myron Waldman
    • Popeye: The Mighty Ensign
    • Pip-Eye, Pup-Eye, Poop-Eye an' Peep-Eye: Chips Off the Old Salt
  • 3 Out of the Inkwell Shorts
    • The Clown's Little Brother (1920)
    • The Cartoon Factory (1924)
    • Koko Needles the Boss (1927)


  • 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 - Commentary by Directors John Kricfalusi and Eddie Fitzgerald and Cartoonist Kali Fontecchio
  • Spinach Fer Britain
  • Seein' Red, White 'N' Blue - Commentary by Animator Mark Kausler
  • Too Weak to Work - Commentary by Director Bob Jaques
  • A Jolly Good Furlough
  • Ration Fer the Duration
  • The Hungry Goat - Commentary by Historian Jerry Beck
  • Happy Birthdaze
  • Wood-Peckin'
  • Cartoons Ain't Human


  • Documentary: Forging the Frame: The Roots of Animation, 1921 - 1930
  • Finding His Voice (1929)


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