WHAT ABOUT THAD?
January 5, 2015 posted by

Paramount Sales News #32: Popeye Fills Space

Back to the bread-and-butter, the Popeye series, in this one-eyed sailor batch.

I think most readers will agree that Popeye began to lose his sheen once the Fleischer studio was settled in Miami, but there are still some brilliant bits and pieces to be gleaned if you look closely. For example, take a look at this Bob Jaques blog post on a gem sequence from the otherwise mediocre Onion Pacific (1940).

Paramount Sales News just proved that a rilly big buildup for a new series could mean trouble, and July 10’s panel heralds the start of another misfire. See it set up to fail in earnest next week!

May-July 1940 (click to enlarge)

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9 Comments

  • Hunky and Spunky are wedged in to July 10 — Did they get any love from audiences / exhibitors?

    • They did decently enough for Spunky to be revived to jaw-dropping spectacular fanfare at Famous. (See this column in a few months!)

  • I noticed Wimpy in “Onion Pacific.” When did he disappear as a regular from the Popeye cartoons? I know he made occasional appearances in the Famous cartoons in the 1950s, but I don’t remember seeing him in the cartoons by the World War II era into the early ’50s.

    • I think he only gets namedropped in a couple like “Me Musical Nephews” but that’s it.

    • Paramount had to pay KFS a fee for each character used from the strip, hence the disappearance of everyone beyond Popeye, Olive, Bluto and the occasional Wimpy. Bluto disappeared in many Famous cartoons produced in 1947-48 and was replaced with other muscular Jackson Beck-voiced brutes to save some money. (The last of which was Beach Peach, released in 1950 thanks to the backlog.)

  • “Onion Pacific” was Wimpy’s last Fleischer appearance — He wouldn’t show up again other than in the two-reeler cheater cartoons until 1955’s “Penny Antics”, which in itself was a cheater and a remake of the Fleischer 1939 cheater “Customers Wanted”: He got something of a proper send-off in the series’ penultimate cartoon, 1957’s “Spree Lunch” (a plot melding “Customers Wanted” and “We Airms to Please”, but by ’57 anything outside of the standard Popeye-Olive-Bluto template was more than welcome).

    Pinto Colvig’s voice as Bluto compared to Gus Wicke’s, and the creeping, but not-yet perfected attempts at Warnerization of the Popeye shorts hampered some of the early Miami efforts, but nothing like the middle period, where Bluto was abandoned and the studio made a concerted effort to turn Pappy into a star. World War II couldn’t come soon enough for the series…..

    • Two-reel cheaters? I thought the only Popeye two-reelers were the three Technicolor epics.

      Speaking of which, is there a reason why they kept taking Popeye back to Arabian Nights stories, adapting a bit more closely each time? A plan to eventually cut them into a feature, as Disney did a few decades later with the Winnie the Pooh featurettes? An executive at Fleischer or Paramount who decided “Sindbad”s” success lay in its literary source? A desire to stake out a big source of stories before Disney (or Lantz) got to it?

    • The cheaters in this case were the cartoons Famous did in the late 1940s and early 50s, using segments of the Fleischer color two-reelers but with redone sound tracks. Wimpy makes it into two of those, and with a bit of new animation, but not even as much as the two mid-50s cheaters Famous used him in.

  • The drawing in 7-31 of Popeye eating spinach is pretty terrible, like he’s using it as shaving cream.

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