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Category:    Home > Reviews > Animation > Comedy > Action > Shorts > Popeye The Sailor: 1938-1940 – Volume Two + Popeye and Friends - Volume One 1978 – 79 Hanna-Barbera Animated Series (Warner DVD)

Popeye The Sailor: 1938-1940 – Volume Two + Popeye and Friends - Volume One 1978 – 79 Hanna-Barbera Animated Series (Warner DVD)


Picture: B-/C     Sound: C+     Extras: B/D     Shorts: B+



NOTE:  Before Warner Bros. could catch it for the 1938-40 set, two shorts on DVD 1 have alternate opening credits over the original, but it turns out they are not lost and replacement DVDs with the original opening credits are available by calling the following phone number:




They promise a self-addressed, stamped envelope and replacement in 8 – 10 weeks.  Now, onto the review…



You may not know the Popeye animated cartoon series is the longest running in both theatrical and television short subject history.  Two hundred and thirty four theatricals were produced from 1933 to 1957.  Made for TV Popeye shorts debuted in 1960, with a new batch for Saturday Mornings beginning in 1978.  There are approximately five hundred Popeye cartoons which have been produced for the small screen.  Popeye is still the longest running cartoon series in television syndication (beginning in September of 1956).  It is surprising it took Popeye over twenty years to make it to DVD when other cartoon characters preceded him. King Features Syndicate, who owned the rights to the Popeye characters, would not cooperate with the various copyright holders of the theatricals. Hence, a VHS release was never done aside from thirty or so films which fell into public domain and a selection of the TV-cartoons.  The lukewarm reaction to King’s CGI Popeye special in 2004 probably led their executives to think, “if you can’t beat ‘em, join ‘em”.


The packaging has great artwork but is recycled material used on various Popeye merchandise through out the years.  Fresh artwork would be welcome on future sets.


Sloppy historical errors are heard on the commentary selections as many people chosen to be included are not Popeye historians, rather “animation historians”, “animators”, and “directors”. Despite having written five books on Popeye and a number of articles, I have been left on the cutting room floor from this volume and the previous one.  Other people closely involved with the sailor, such as the founders of The Official Popeye Fan Club and many of its long standing members since 1989 are ignored.


Printed on the liner notes, “Lanky goyl, Olive Oyl is here, dreaming of sailing matrimonial seas with the old salt (and frenetically coping with Popeye’s nephews, Pip-eye, Pup-eye, Poop-eye and Peep-eye).” “Wimmin is a Myskery” (1940) is the cartoon these notes are referring to but the lads are Olive’s children in this fantasy-cartoon. I was horrified to see the television syndicated, “Popeye the Sailor” logo (from Associated Artists Productions) inserted in two theatricals, “Customer’s Wanted” (1939) and “Hello, How Am I” (1939).  The production staff were instructed which original opening sequences to be used but ignored the instructions.


A Popumentary, “Men of Spinach and Steel” takes a lot of time pondering if

Superman’s creators were influenced by Popeye.  Below is a quote from the book, “Popeye: An Illustrated Cultural History” (McFarland, 2004) which answers that question making this section pointless;


“Jerry Siegel, one of Superman’s creators (along with Joe Shuster), readily admits that the animated Popeye cartoons were a primary influence.  He envisioned similar fast-paced action turning on the hero’s superhuman strength, but played straight instead of for laughs.”


As the Fleischer cartoons featured on his DVD reflect the flip/flop of personnel changes with Bluto’s voice an extra feature on this topic would have been better suited.


A Biography on the voices of Olive Oyl was a fine tribute to Mae Questel but misinformation is given when it is said she did the voice of Popeye’s gal until the 1980’s.  This is a fact easily found when looking up the voice credits for “The All New Popeye Hour”, “The Popeye and Olive Comedy Show” and “Popeye and Son”. It was Marilyn Schreffer who performed Olive’s voice in the Hanna-Barbera cartoons produced from 1978 to 1981 and 1987 to 1988.


As in last year’s set, scenes from the colorized Popeye cartoons (tinted in black and white) were used in the documentary sections. 


Aside from the title mistakes, the cartoons look wonderful. It’s a delight to see the original opening and closing to “Aladdin and His Wonderful Lamp” (1939), the third and final Popeye two-reeler from the Fleischer Studios.  Classic films on this volume include, “Goonland” (1938), “I Yam Love Sick” (1938) “The Jeep” (1938) and “It’s the Natural Thing to do” (1939). Popeye’s tender side is featured in such films as “My Pop, My Pop” (1940) featuring the sailor’s Poopdeck Pappy.


Other Popeye Popumentary sections feature looks at Poopdeck Pappy and Eugene the Jeep but fail to mention how frequently they appeared in the later TV-cartoons. Additional extras include an excellent history on the Fleischer Studios, an informative audio interview with Jack Mercer and William Costello, Popeye’s original voice performing the sailor’s theme song.


As with the first set, I would like to hear from more individuals who are currently involved with keeping Popeye alive in the United States.  For the past two decades, either being involved with the Official Popeye Fan Club or making sure he remains visible on Boomerang (the all-cartoon channel), his exposure, for the most part, is due to his legions of fans!



Disc One:


I Yam Love Sick

Plumbing is a “Pipe”

The Jeep

Bulldozing the Bull

Mutiny Ain’t Nice


A Date to Skate

Cops is Always Right

Customer’s 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


Special Features:


Out of the Inkwell: The Fleischer Story

Popeye Popumentaries:

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



Disc Two:


Never Sock A Baby

Shakespearian Spinach

Females is Fickle

Stealin’ Ain’t Honest

Me Feelin’s is Hurt

Onion Pacific

Wimmin is a Myskery


Fightin Pals

Doing Impossikible Stunts

Wimmin Hadn’t Oughta Drive

Puttin on the Act

Popeye Meets William Tell

My Pop, My Pop

With Poopdeck Pappy

Popeye Presents Eugene the Jeep



From the Vault:


3 Fleischer Shorts

Paramount Presents Popular Science (1938) - features the making of a Popeye cartoon.

The Mechanical Monsters (1941)-a Fleischer Studio’s “Superman” short.

Early Max Fleischer Art Gallery

Females is Fickle Pencil Test

Stealin Ain’t Honest-Storyboard Reel

+ Audio-Only Bonuses of I’m Popeye the Sailor Man vintage recording (by William Costello) and Animator Michael Sporn interviewing the voice of Popeye, Jack Mercer




One of the later revivals of the character happened in the late 1970s from red hot Hanna-Barbera and Popeye and Friends, Volume One (with the voices of Jack Mercer, Marilyn Schreffler, Allan Melvin and Daws Butler among others) is now also making its way to DVD at the same time as the vintage set.  Warner already had this show in their archives through their Turner Entertainment acquisition, but had to make special arrangements for the older shorts with King Features Syndicate.



Mr. Magoo, Tom & Jerry, Heckle & Jeckle and Mighty Mouse all have something in common with Popeye other than being popular animated cartoon characters.  Each was revived in the late 1970’s, by the networks, for new Saturday morning programs.  Some lasted a season or two but when Hanna-Barbera produced new Popeye cartoons for CBS’ “All New Popeye Hour” (1978-81) the network produced a rating’s success.


Though these new films could no longer show Popeye punching Bluto, let alone anyone else, they more than made up for this in humor.  Both in character design and scripts, Hanna- Barbera attempted to reflect the Popeye theatricals of the Fleischer Studios.  Whenever Popeye’s spinach would end up in the mouth of another character was a nod to the Fleischer series.


Jack Mercer, Popeye’s primary voice artist since 1935, returned to voice the sailor, one of his nephews and Poopdeck Pappy.  Mercer also wrote several scripts for this series something he did for the previous theatrical and TV Popeye cartoons.  Marilyn Schreffler was effective as Olive Oyl, who in these cartoons, reflected the women’s movement.  Jack Mercer wrote he had written the first women’s liberation script for the “Popeye” series.  In many a cartoon, Olive showed she had a little more brain power than Popeye, though he had the brawn!


Veteran actor, Allan Melvin was a rough sounding Bluto and Daws Butler gave hamburger eating Wimpy a W.C. Field’s voice.


It’s interesting to note Popeye’s bearded foe was back to being called his original moniker after being called ‘Brutus’ in the 1960’s TV-cartoons.  However in most merchandise during this period including the comic book and strips he was still called Brutus.  Another plus for this series were the appearances of Eugene the Jeep, Swee’pea, Popeye’ nephews, The Sea Hag and Goons!


The All New Popeye Hour was a rating’s hit for the 1978-79 and 1979-80 seasons.  Becoming a half-hour, “The Popeye and Olive Comedy Show” aired on CBS from 1981 to 1983, mixing new cartoons with reruns pulled from the hour format.  King Features Entertainment sold these cartoons into immediate syndication where they played on The Family Channel for five consecutive years.  The Hanna-Barbera Popeye cartoons have seen previous releases on both VHS and DVD.


Warner Home Video’s liner notes emphasize the cartoons on this first volume are for the entire family.  No doubt this is to distance them from the theatrical Popeyes which feature racial overtones and produced with the adult audience in mind.  Popeye is billed as a “family man”.  The artwork on the front and back is impressive matching the look of the characters as they appeared in the episodes. A longtime Popeye collector will tell you this is a rare occurrence with products based on the animated Popeye since the late 1980’s.


I know there are Popeye purists who stay away from any animated version other than the Fleischer films but these Hanna-Barbera cartoons had entertaining scripts, fine animation and excellent character designs (though Popeye is wearing his sailor’s hat rather than his captain’s hat from the Fleischer period).  I would have liked to see extras including a history of this series (historians are available, myself included) and the effectively produced safety tips.  A better selection of cartoons featuring less of the Popeye saving Swee’pea from peril plot would have offered more variety.

With 192 cartoons to choose from in this series, hopefully future volumes will offer varied stories with more characters from the original “Popeye” comic strip.


Set sail! It’s s a great way to introduce the family to Popeye.





Abject Flying Object

Ship Ahoy

I Wouldn’t Take That Mare to the Fair on a Dare

Popeye Goes Sightseeing

Chips Off the Old Ice Block

Popeye the Plumber

Swee’pea Plagues a Parade

Polly Wants Some Spinach



For more on Popeye, try our coverage on the first vintage shorts set Warner issued at this link:





-   Fred M. Grandinetti


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