Animation Trails
September 8, 2021 posted by Charles Gardner

Hit the Beach (Part 11)

We begin this week’s installment with a rundown of Popeye and Mister Magoo shorts for which exact air dates are unknown – probably first seen in 1960 or ‘61. Then, we move on to other contributions from 1961, including TV offerings from Hanna-Barbera, and a brief theatrical renaissance from Walt Disney.

Popeye the Lifeguard (King Features/Jack Kinney Productions, Popeye – Jack Kinney, dir,) – Popeye’s new job as beach lifeguard has him the center of admiration of all the attractive bikini-clad beauties on the beach – and Olive is feeling downright neglected, and griven by the green-eyed monster of jealousy. “I guess I know how to get some attention from him”, she mutters, eyeing a sign Popeye has placed on the pier ordering “No diving”. She intentionally jumps into the water – and finds her cries for help don’t even have to be feigned, as she dives headfirst into real danger, getting her head stuck in the submerged stump of an uprooted hollow tree. “The word ‘help’ is a lifeguard’s bread and butter”, states Popeye, apologizing that he must take leave of the girls for a few moments.

With a shout of “Timber!”, Popeye hauls back the stump and its occupant to shore. “Lady, there’s a reason for the warning signs we put up”, he lectures the soggy damsel, until he removes the stump, and discovers an unexpected familiar face. Olive’s hair is drenched and hanging straight down from her head, but she tries to play up to Popeye for his daring rescue. “In this business, we gets used to flattery”, said Popeye, casually dismissing the compliments, and returns to his “work” with the other girls. Olive doesn’t give up easily, and tries a second ruse – riding an inflatable balloon horse, from which she intentionally lets the air escape by tweaking the air valve with her toes. “It’s a case of runaway inflation”, shouts Popeye, as he starts up a motorboat in attempt to catch the “plastic palomino” and “head him off at the pass”. Tying a coil of rope into a lariat, Popeye lassos the deflating horse, then gives a tug. His tug is too strong, and Olive and the horse fly right on past Popeye’s speedboat, crashing Olive into the stern of a passing barge. Popeye surveys the damage through a pair of binoculars, first finding Olive’s silhouette carved as a hole through the stern of the hull, then observing “What a grotesque figurehead” the barge has – looking at Olive’s head and torso protruding through the hull under the ship’s bow.

Olive sulks back on shore, so mad at all those other girls that she could scream. A face appears from under the mound of sand she is sitting on, that is enough to make anyone scream – and does for Olive – namely, Bluto (aka Brutus for TV). “That’s the first time I ever gave a seat to a lady”, Brutus observes. He talks the lonely Olive into following the “buddy system” – each of them looking out for the other. Olive thinks it will serve Popeye right, and when Popeye approaches to see if Brutus is bothering her, Olive brushes him off, stating they’re each taking care of the other. Brutus tells Popeye to buzz off, and before he leaves, offers Popeye “a couple of life savers”, tossing two preservers over Popeye’s arms, then rolling him down a hill as if they were tires. “Sometimes I thinks they’re carryin’ these compact autos too far”, comments Popeye. Brutus next takes Olive on a romantic canoe ride – with Olive doing all the rowing, just as long as it keeps Popeye jealous. But Brutus of course takes things too far, and pressures Olive for a kiss. When she refuses, Brutus ties her to a piling in the bay. Popeye is still resigned to leave Olive to “paddle her own canoe”, until she finally calls for help. “She said the magic word”, responds Popeye. The usual battle ensues, the spinach is eaten, and Brutus is socked into a cluster of the beach’s trash wastebaskets. Popeye vows to Olive , “No more pretty girls for me – only you” – but is back among the ladies’ attentions ten seconds later for the iris out.

Me Quest for Poopdeck Pappy (King Features/Paramount Cartoon Studio, Popeye, Seymour Kneitel, dir.) – Once again, Popeye is in search of his long lost Pappy. Pappy has taken up residence on a remote island, on which he is the only human occupant – and determined to keep it that way. Popeye encounters a sign on the shore reading “Visitors ain’t welcome”. “‘Ain’t’ ain’t good English”, says Popeye, and socks out the middle word from the signboard, converting it to “Visitors welcome.” Not if Pappy has anything to say about it, as he watches through a telescope from the center of the island, where he has erected a ship’s mast with crows’ nest in the sand as a lookout station. Seeing Popeye’s ship moored to a tree, and the sailor snooping about, Pappy lowers himself from the crow’s nest, and releases from a large cage a huge gorilla, with the instruction to “Sic ‘em.” The gorilla soon has Popeye in its grasp, but one punch from Popeye places the gorilla into paralysis, and he keels over motionless on the sand. Pappy calls for reinforcements from the “black watch of the island” – a huge black octopus. Another confrontation is quickly quelled, by Popeye exhaling his pipe smoke in the creature’s face – withering the beast into an unconscious puddle. Pappy realizes he’ll have to take care of the intruder himself, and is about to deliver Popeye a powerful blow, until Popeye stops the punch in its tracks by delivering the news that he is Pappy’s son. “Ya looks like somethin’ the dogs digged up”, Pappy responds. With a repeat of his favorite line, “I hates relatives”, Pappy turns his back on his son. Popeye repeats that he is Pappy’s little boy, and Pappy runs a test. He slams his most powerful blow into Popeye’s jaw – leaving no mark, and only resulting in an audible metallic clank. “Well, ya can take it – but my son woulda hit me back!” At that moment a huge Godzilla-like creature rises from the ocean – the monster of the sea, which seems to be the only thing capable of striking fear into Pappy’s heart. Pappy hides behind a rock, while the beast grabs Popeye in one of its clawed hands, and puts the squeeze on him, popping the spinach can out of Popeye’s shirt. The can falls, and rolls over to Pappy’s rock. Repeating a plot point from “Goonland” (1938), Pappy reacts with joy at seeing the can, noting aloud that he hasn’t seen a can of the stuff in years. Swallowing the contents, he rids the island of the monster with one punch, launching the creature back into the sea. The film ends with Pappy proudly carrying Popeye in his arms, stating that he knew Popeye was his son the minute he found that Popeye caries a can of spinach on him.

Goon With the Wind (King Features/Rembrandt Films, Popeye. Gene Deitch. dir.) – On a pleasure voyage in unknown waters, Popeye and Olive notice an unusual phenomenon. The wind is blowing forwards, but their sailing yacht is traveling backwards. The reason – a goon from Goony Island has swum up to the ship unnoticed, taken hold of its bow, and is propelling it to shore. Popeye throws out the anchor, unaware of the goon’s presence. “Hey, watch what you’re doin”, complains the goon, as the anchor lands on its back. He tosses it at Popeye, where it lodges inside Popeye’s jaw. Popeye attempts to retaliate, but the goon pulls on the ship’s bow, and klunks Popeye on the head with it. The attraction for the goon is not the sailor, nor the ship, but Olive, whom the goon caries over his shoulder up onto the shore, and back to the goons’ village. Popeye follows, demanding to know what’s the idea, but is greeted by a trap. An iron cage is dropped upon Popeye as he stands in the sand. Atop the cage is also dropped a massive boulder, nearly of the size Popeye was threatened with in the original “Goonland”. The rock does not crush him. However, it makes good use of the force of gravity, and slowly, the cage begins to sink, being driven deeper and deeper into the sand, placing Popeye in the same effect as being in a room with the ceiling closing in. To make matters worse, for once Popeye has grown forgetful, and realizes that in his haste, he has left his trusty can of spinach aboard the ship. Olive continues to cry for help, but is placed in a throne chair without harm. “We want you be queen Goon Island”, says her captor, and the other goons bow to her as a crown is placed upon her head. “This is more like it”, thinks Olive. She walks over to Popeye’s entrapment, and issues an order that he be freed. The goons agree – but with a condition – he’ll be set free, after she marries the king of the Goons. Olive should have known there’d be a catch to it. Popeye suggests she make a run for the boat and try to retrieve the spinach, while the burly King of the Goons appears and attempts to obtain some preliminary kisses from his intended. “Come back, Queenie. Don’t play hard to get”, calls the king, as Olive leaps aboard the yacht. An unseen scuffle takes place inside the cabins between Olive and the King, who comments that he likes a Queen with spirit. The King finally emerges, with Olive hogtied to the shaft of a spear. As she is carried past Popeye’s cage, which has now sunk to a point where the sailor is practically flattened against the ground, she asks is she can say goodbye to Popeye before the wedding. Without untying her, the King holds her and the spear above Popeye’s head so she can bid her goodbyes. Instead, Olive whispers, “I brought you something, Popeye”, and tips her head slightly, causing a spinach can to fall out from where it was concealed inside her crown. “That’s me girl”, says Popeye approvingly, as Olive is carried away by the Goon, and the spinach is sucked up and consumed. Popeye makes short work of the cage and boulder, and bends the cage’s metal into a harp to play a mocking chorus of “Here Comes the Bride”. Before the vows can be exchanged, Popeye socks the King and the minister Goon sky high, and tells Olive to hop her way to the ship while he “sees what the Goons in the back room will have.” He bats the remaining Goon army for a home run, using a palm tree as a baseball bat, pulls crown down over the King’s eyes, and boots him through a palm tree and into a boulder for a knockout. Back aboard ship and sailing for home, Popeye sings, “The goons are defeated cause me spinach I eated.”

You can watch it in Portuguese CLICK HERE.

UPA’s The Mister Magoo Show also contributes a trio of episodes for consideration. Robinson Crusoe Magoo (Steve Clark, dir.) manages to stay politically correct (a rarity for UPA television cartoons, which, as will be seen, often pushed the limits of racial stereotyping) by featuring no Man Friday. Magoo, sailing along alone in a sailboat, attempts to take a reading of his bearings with a sextant) in actuality, one of the railing cleats), then consults his map (actually an anatomy chart from an old textbook, where he is following a stream of veins and arteries), so finds himself utterly lost. A small storm washes him ip on a beach full of sunbathers – which blind as a bat Magoo thinks is utterly deserted. Magoo turns to his survival skills, searching for materials to build a shelter from. Spying a boathouse, he mistakes it for a battered hulk, and dismantles the well built structure entirely, to build from it a random pile of boards which he calls home. Magoo next seeks food, attacking an inflatable horse in the water, and carrying ashore the withered “carcass”. He then finally takes note of others on the shore, and believes the ‘island” has been invaded by primitive natives. Mistaking beatnuk bongo drums for ritual tribal rhythms, Magoo spies a muscle man holding a bikini-clad girl above his head with one hand, and believes a ritual sacrifice is in progress. Magoo decides to build a signal fire in hopes of attracting a rescue – and mistakes his own ramshackle hut for “a stack of driftwood”, setting fire to it. Two lifeguards from the lifeguard station arrive in a jeep with siren to douse the flames, and Magoo believes that a rescue party has arrived. His boat, with sails tattered, has finally drifted to shore, and Magoo believes the men have salvaged his ship, too. He leaves the shore, oblivious to what has happened, warning the life guards to watch their step, as the island is “infested with savages”, while the crowd looks on at his departure.

The show’s backup feature series, Waldo and Presley (the latter being a fast-talking sharpie added to the cast for the TV series), provides South Pacific Potluck (John Walker, dir.). It is another cannibal island epic, again attempting to be oddly politically correct by making the natives quite fair skinned. Presley talks Waldo into a low cost excursion to Hawaii, via two-man raft, with Presley utterly without sense of direction as the raft proceeds through a pea-soup fog. Presley thinks they’re nearing land, as he hears Hawaiian music. It is actually coming from the decks of an unseen passing ocean liner, headed in the opposite direction. They land on a strange shore, missing sight of a sign conveniently located for any passing shipwreck victim to see, reading “Cannibal Island. Danger.” On shore, a chief who speaks only in gibberish, and a second in command who acts as his interpreter, exchange between them the observation, “Dinner on the hoof.” The chief insists out heroes stay for dinner, and won’t take no for an answer. Waldo assumes this means a luau. He and Presley sit down to a feast of what tastes uncannily like turkey dressing, and are both soon “stuffed”. They are quickly dumped into a stewing pot, and finally get wise to their predicament. They begin to call for help, and the chief grumbles a command. The ultra-polite second in command tells our heroes, “Hate to mention it, but the chief says you’re an awfully noisy dinner – KNOCK IT OFF!” Enough of waiting for rescue, as Waldo and Presley hop out of the pot and run. The chief summons his fiercest warrior, who pursues them with a sharp knife and savage screams. Waldo and Presley reach the shore, and find a hollowed out half-log that will serve as a dugout canoe – except for a nearby sign which reads “Petrified forest and petrified logs”. They set off upon the waves, as the savage pursuer stops at the shoreline, and changes vocal demeanor entirely, stating in a little-guy voice, “Aw, shucks. Chief gonna blow stack.” A short distance from shore, the heavy petrified log sinks our heroes into the sea – but they find themselves rising again, and look down to discover the surfacing deck of a submarine. “You can always count on the U.S. Navy”, says Presley. However, this is not one of their ships, as the cannibal interpreter appears from the conning tower along with the chief, politely asking if our heroes are through with the fun and games. Waldo and Presley dive overboard for their lives, and decide to make their way to Hawaii by their own propulsion. The disappointed chief mutters another line of gibberish, while his translator states, “You’re right, chief. TV dinners again tonight.”

One must also mention, A Day at the Beach (Clyde Geronimi, dir.), which, of course for Magoo, actually never gets there. Weather reports indicate a day over 100 degrees, but only in the 70’s at the seashore. Magoo packs his Oriental houseboy Cholly, his pet dog (actually cat) Bowser, and his beach gear into the old jalopy, and sets off down the highway. As usual, he begins by driving the wrong way on a freeway, crashing through the guard rail, and downhill to the location of a sand and gravel pit. Ignoring the “Keep Out” sign, (which he reads as “Welcome”), Magoo steps off a ledge, into a pile of sand below. He instructs Cholly to bring the beach gear down, and soon has hs umbrella, blanket and chair set up within the construction site. Then noticing the heavy equipment nearby, Magoo believes he has spotted a beachside amusement park, and invites Cholly to take in the rides, “My treat”. Despite Cholly’s best protests, Magoo pushes him into a cement mixer, believing it is a fun house rotating barrel. Next, he and Cholly climb into the clamshell bucket of a huge crane, believing it is a parachute jump ride. Cholly falls out of the bucket, into a sand car on a track, which to Magoo appears to be a roller coaster. Cholly is run through the mill of the pit’s sandbag prduction machinery, up and down conveyor belts, through large pipes, and finally tied into a sandbag. Magoo thinks Cholly has deserted him, after he was so kind as to pay Cholly’s way, and leashes Bowser to track him down. The cat spots Cholly loaded onto the back of a truck with other sandbags, and leads Magoo to him, where Cholly is rescued. Upset Magoo vows that he will never take Cholly to the beach again, and Cholly tells the audience that he hopes his boss man will put that in writing.

The Litterbug (Disney, Donald Duck (special), 6/21/61 – Hamilton Luske, dir.), briefly fits into the category of this article series. It presents an analysis of America’s number one pest, the litterbug, as if presenting a Disney nature study on its habitat, lifestyle and habits. Its nests are shown as a row of tract housing, with each (all depicted as Donald Duck, with a cameo by the nephews) routinely disposing of his waste over the fence into the yard of his neighbor. Various styles of its habitual trait of leaving messes everywhere are depicted, including a particularly funny variety who does so in trench coat with the stealth of a spy, and has to be observed by means of a slow motion camera to detect just how many places he has stashed the trash. Connection with our article’s topic comes from an analysis of the creature’s summer migration habits, where swarms of them (in the form of traveling motorists) flock to either the mountains or the beach. The beach bugs fill the shoreline with their rows of umbrellas, then engage in their favorite pastimes – eating, and littering. At sundown, they return to their habitations, while archaeologists are left to find layer upon layer of sedimentary residue of their previous migrations – shown in a never-ending cutaway view of litter lodged deep into the earth. Perhaps the film’s biggest positive point – and likely its reason for existence – is a catchy theme song by Mel Leven, sung over the opening and closing credits, and also released as a very short single on Disneyland Records, oddly presented there as a polka!

Hawaii, Here We Come (Hanna-Barbera, Top Cat, 9/27/61) – The inaugural episode of the series finds the cats stowing away on the S.S. Aloha Hooey – that is, all but Benny the Ball, who got on board legitimately with a contest-won all expenses paid ticket. Of, course, in Top Cat’s estimation, where one of the gang goes, the others will follow – regardless of their lack of the price of admission. Packing themselves like sardines in Benny’s luggage, they make their way aboard. Meanwhile, Officer Dibble has also found himself inadvertently aboard, after following onto the ship a “little old lady” who passed him a five dollar bill for being helped across the street – which Dibble can’t bring himself to accept on duty. The ship takes off for the islands before Dibble can find the very-fast lady who has eluded him, and Dibble is on vacation whether he likes it or not. But a call to the sergeant converts it to a working vacation, as a police bulletin advises of a counterfeiter suspected of boarding the ship. Naturally, the “little old lady” is the counterfeiter in disguise, and ditches the dress and wig to remain incognito for the remainder of the voyage. He makes the mistake, however, of stashing the suitcase full of phoney bills in one of the lifeboats – the same boat in which Top Cat and the non-paying members of his gang are hiding out. By the law of “finders keepers”, Top Cat believes himself suddenly rich, and openly presents himself to the ship’s purser to book the royal suite. Dibble eventually crosses paths with the purser, and the two blind-as-a-bat figures of authority admire the artwork of Davy Crockett on a five-dollar bill – received from the royal suite – until realization finally knocks its way though Dibble’s thick skull.

Not knowing who is in the suite, Dibble hopes to make an arrest – but also spots Top Cat on deck, so plans two arrests instead. Not knowing how to explain the money, TC returns the suitcase to where he found it, bit is overheard by the counterfeiter, who retrieves his loot the minute it is back inside the lifeboat. Dibble finds that TC and the occupant of the royal suite are one and the same, and Top Cat finally learns that the currency was fake. To clear his name, TC attempts to retrieve the suitcase, but finds it gone. The gang wind up in the brig, but TC sweet-talks Dibble into trying a plan to catch the real counterfeiter. Dibble asks the captain to broadcast a fake message over the ship’s loudspeakers that a suitcase full of money has been found, and will the rightful owner claim it. Everyone on the passenger list clamors for admission at the captain’s door – except the counterfeiter, making him stand out from a crowd. Dibble and the counterfeiter chase about the ship, and wind up overboard (using an old Tom and Jerry gag from “Cruise Cat” of attempting to cling to the side of the metal ship, but sliding off, leaving nail marks etched in the ship’s cast-iron). They are fished from the sea by the crew, and the arrest made. The gang gets to work off their passage to the islands as stewards, but TC takes umbrage when Dibble takes credit at the captain’s table for the idea that caught the crook, and clobbers Dibble with a bowl of chocolate pudding. Then he and the gang, to escape retribution, jump overboard, and disappear. In the final shots of the episode, the sandy shores of the islands are finally reached. Dibble, now alone, bemoans the fate of the cats in the watery blue, until a shout of “Gangway, everybody” is heard. Aboard a surfboard, the six cats appear riding the crest of a wave. “Clear the runway, we’re coming in for a landing.” Dibble is overjoyed to see them, but gets flattened as their board lands atop him, leaving the six cats comfortably resting atop Dibble’s prone chest. Top Cat receives the curtain line, observing that Dibble isn’t just a humuhumunukunukuapua’a swimming by.

Here’s a tiny clip:

Beach Brawl (Hanna Barbera, Yakky Doodle (The Yogi Bear Show), 11/4/61- Duckling Yakky Doodle (the direct successor of Little Quacker from Tom and Jerry) plays it strictly by formula in this episode. Basic setup: Place duck and his self-appointed guardian Chopper the bulldog in a chosen locale, set Fibber Fox loose to place the duck in peril, and watch Fubber get his lumps at each foiled scheme. This of course was a formula not far dissimilar from Jerry the mouse’s frequent allegiances with Spike the bulldog against Tom – although T&J episodes would usually take the time to carefully escalate a situation, with Tom receiving his real lumps only at the end of the cartoon. Here, it was more typical for Fibber to receive at least a sock in the nose about every one and one-half minutes, which eventually made the whole thing seem pretty repetitious. But kids can be gluttons for punishment, and repetition, so, with the more popular Yogi Bear as an anchor character, we all sat through and watched these shorts without much question, making life simpler for Hanna and Barbera. They would, however, eventually push their luck, by lifting verbatim the identical formula for the later, even less funny, It’s the Wolf series with Paul Lynde – at which time as a kid I tuned out.

Yakky and Chopper spend a day off (or is it off day?) at the beach. Nearby, Fibber Fox is fishing off a pier, hauling in nothing but old shoes. Yakky happens by on an inflatable horse. Seeing possibilities for a more promising catch, Fibber casts his line and hooks the ear of the inflatable. When he reels in, he attempts to remove the hook, but leaves a puncture in the inflatable, jetting Yakky back to the shore where Chopper lies buried in the sand. Fibber (who acts in this episode like he’s never met Chopper before, even though the writers inconsistently have Chopper know his name already at the end of the episode) sees only the head of Chopper, and thinks he’s a mere interfering pipsqueak, until Chopper rises from the sand to his full height. Chopper uses his formula catch-phrase, protectively telling Yakky to close his itty-bitty eyes. “You shouldn’t oughta see what’s gonna happen” to Fibber. (Thankfully in the day, anti-violence groups hadn’t yet decided that we the audience should have our eyes shielded too from such bad influences, and we at least got to see whatever Fibber’s punishment really was – by the time of “It’s the Wolf”, all Lambsy’s protector Bristle Hound was permitted to do was to toss Mildew Wolf over the horizon with his shepherd’s crook – over, and over, and over again.) Here, Chopper delivers a blow to Fibber’s nose, launching him into a beach umbrella that closes on him, then tries to improve Fibber’s fishing, by javelin-throwing the umbrella into the bay to use Fibber as bait.

Chopper is next seen working out with weights on the pier (I guess this is Muscle Beach again) while Yakky swims. Fibber tries the old routine of tying on a shark fin to his back, hoping that Chopper will be too scared to leap into the water to rescue Yakky. The plot fails when a larger fin appears in the water, owned by a real shark, who surprisingly has other things on his mind than his appetite. Daws Butler gets to break out his Loopy De Loop French accent, imitating Charles Boyer (or Pepe Le Pew) as the shark attempts to pitch woo with the new attractive fin in the water. “Where have you been all my life? You are different, no?” Chopper offers his “assistance” to Fibber, holding out to him a barbell, and stating, “Here, grab this life saver.” Fibber grabs, and Chopper drops his grip, sinking Fibber quickly into the drink. Fibber’s third plan is to hide inside a giant beach ball. Chopper gives the ball a swift kick, producing painful howls inside, then punctures the ball for another jet-propelled ride into the blue. Fibber’s final attempt has him sneaking up quietly on Yakky with a rubber raft. Chopper spies him, and scuba dives under Fibber, to open the air valve of the raft. It deflates to about three inches wide, although staying afloat. “Oh for heavens sake,” says Fibber, “I’ve got a flat.” Who should return but the lovesick shark to make another pass. “Haven’t I got enough troubles already?” says Fibber without fear, and whacks the shark over the head with his oar. Fibber unwisely wisens up the shark that he is not a girl shark, but a fox on a leaky raft. The shark changes to a more normal disposition, announcing, “We have a score to settle”, and starts using his jaws for the purpose they were intended by nature. Fibber swims for his life, up onto the shore, and crash into a boulder. As the cartoon closes, Yakky and Chopper wonder what Fibber’s having for dinner, Fibber has returned to his caught pile of old shoes, which he is browning on a skewer over a small campfire, for – what else – shoes-kebob.

Aquamania (Disney, Goofy, 12/20/61 – Wolfgang Reitherman, dir.) – Nominated for an Academy Award. An unusually traditional comeback film for Goofy, which rumor has it was produced in conjunction with work on One Hundred and One Dalmatians as a sort of proving ground to familiarize the staff with how to use the newly-developed Xerography process that for many years eliminated the use of hand-traced cels. It makes use of a bit of borrowed animation which must have been pencil-retraced to conform it for use of the Xerox processer, from Jack Kinney’s “Motor Mania”, introducing Goofy as the everyman. However, Goof actually gets to play three of his past role models in this one episode – everyman, father, and just plain Goof during the final aquatic sequences, in which he wears a bathing outfit not dissimilar to his old favorite from Hawaiian Holiday – one of Reitherman’s earliest assignments.

On his daily walks to work, which Goofy claims he takes for his health, the goof actually indulges a secret passion – passing the window of a boat showroom, admiring power boats and trailer rigs on display. A narrator informs us that the body being composed of two-thirds water, it is water on the brain that drives a man to boating. The siren’s song of the notes of a nautical ditty from the showroom finally prove to be the call of the wild for Goofy, and he orders “one for the road” from the available supply. Next thing we know, Goof and his son are cruising down the road, with a speedboat and trailer in tow behind their car, and papa Goof promising to teach junior all about the briny blue, and how to water ski. While they are making good time on the road, they come to a screeching stop and a chain of bumper-thumping collisions several miles from shore, as the road before them is cluttered with a wall-to-wall line of other would-be sailors, all towing their own craft and making their way at a snail’s pace through traffic toward their watery destination. Hours later, arriving at the docks, Goof attempts to get the hang of backing the boat down to the water’s edge. His first efforts put horse before the cart, the trailer negotiating a curved path and jack-knifing so that the car is closer to the water than the boat is. When Goof finally gets things on a straight line, he backs the whole rig, car and all, into the bay. The narrator advises the audience of the effect that salt water has upon the metal of a car – in other words, rust – as the car literally disintegrates around the submerged Goofy. Goofy’s son stays afloat in the boat above, and when a soggy dad rises from the water, the Goof makes excuse for his behavior by stating, “Oh, just parking the car, son.”

As Goofy struggles to slip on his water skis, his son hears the call of an announcer from a loudspeaker at a nearby grandstand, counting off the seconds before the start of a water ski race. “C’mon, dad, we gotta get in the race”, son tells Goofy. “Race? What race?”, replies Pop. Before he can put up a protest to Junior, Junior shifts the motor into gear, and all Pop can do is hang onto the tow line and be dragged along for the ride. The announcer, having no idea who the mystery late starter is, dubs the contestant “Mr. X”. “Stop the boat”, Goofy yells, frantically waving to his son. The announcer mistakes the gestures as a call for more speed, and Junior, hearing the announcer, revs the engine to full throttle. A myriad of hilarious sight gags follow. Goofy passes under other skiers’ skis, and barely misses the propellers of their outboards. He runs atop the water to outrun the hull of a pursuing catamaran. He gets involved in a chain-reaction collision involving a pier piling and five other skiers. He takes off from a ski jump, spinning at the end of his tow rope so that he flies like a helicopter, until his rope snags on a bridge overlooking the waterway, and takes out the bridge’s center section. Below the water, he takes on an unexpected passenger, in the form of an octopus who winds up clinging to his head. The octopus takes hold of the towing handle, and helps Goofy negotiate a new speed record for the slalom. Then the two fail to position for a curve in time, instead skiing up a boat launching ramp and landing upon a boat trailer, then riding atop the wheeled vehicle through a crowded beach full of beach umbrellas, picking up several of them along the way. The lift of the umbrellas acts like a parasail, and sends Goofy and the octopus aloft, until the loudspeaker announcer loses sight of them completely, and mutters to someone else in the booth, “George, can you see him from where you are?” Goof and the octopus travel high into a passing group of menacing clouds, and are struck by lightning, losing the tow rope. They fall to earth, landing on the tracks of am amusement pier roller coaster. Goofy’s skis line up perfectly with the tracks, and the Goof rises and falls dizzily with each slope of metal and wood. He has several close encounters with the roller coaster cars, and ultimately winds up stretched with his skis caught in the caution sign at the top of the coaster’s pinnacle, and the octopus’s tentacles clinging to Goofy’s neck in one direction and to the rear railing of the roller coaster cars in the opposite direction. Something has to give, and the octopus loses his grip on the coaster car. Goofy and the octopus are propelled as if from a slingshot, back onto the waterway leading directly to the finish line, and bounce over the finish line without even breaking the tape, well ahead of the other racers. Goofy and the octopus land headfirst into the loving cup for the winner of the race, as the press’s flash bulbs pop in taking photographs for the morning edition. Now rightside up, and seated on the dock with the octopus and loving cup atop his head, Goofy responds to the happy attentions of skiing fans who crowd to obtain his handshake – though the Goof manages to keep his own hands rather free from the whole affair, allowing the octopus’s eight tentacles to provide most of the handshaking, while the Goof laughs for the iris out.

One side note: Along with The Litterbug, Aquamania (both 1961) also featured uncredited narration by actor – and former Disney animator – John Dehner. Dehner first appeared on screen in The Reluctant Dragon (1941) – as a Disney story man in the Baby Weems sequence. He began his full time screen and radio acting career during the forties – returning to the Disney studio only to portray the “Viceroy” on the Zorro TV show – and now, 20 years later, reuniting with the animation crew for these shorts.

Another round of 60’s sunshine next week.


  • Ordinarily one wouldn’t expect a KFS Popeye cartoon to contain anything in the way of sex appeal. “Popeye the Lifeguard” may have served as a trial run for Jack Kinney’s animation of the floating leopard print bikini in the opening musical number of the beach musical “How to Stuff a Wild Bikini”, several years later.

    It’s also strange that an antisocial loner who hates his “relictives” and repeatedly denies his paternity would refer to himself as “Pappy” in his own signature. Or is “Poopdeck Pappy” his real name?

    “Oh, my gawrshk! A Goon from the Moon!” Surely by this time Popeye must know where Goons come from. “A Goon from the Black Lagoon!” would have made more sense, and been funnier, in this context, but maybe Paramount didn’t want to reference a well-remembered film from another studio — although the title of the cartoon does exactly that, and “Goons from the Moon” was the title of a 1951 Mighty Mouse cartoon….

    No question, those early ‘60s Popeyes were seriously weird.

  • John Dehner also played Colonel Harvey in the Andy Griffith episode “Aunt Bee’s Medicine Man.”

    • He also played Paladin on the CBS Radio version of “Have Gun Will Travel.”

  • In that one vidcap you displayed from “Popeye The Lifeguard”, both of the redheads look suspiciously like Hilda Terry’s Teena, another King Features comic strip character whom I wish Al Brodax would have cranked out 50-or-so TV shorts for back in the day. Go here:

  • It’s noticeable with Aquamania that Goofy’s son is unnamed. Max would come later.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *