Top Ten Popeye the Sailor Films
Popeye is one of the most beloved cartoon characters of its time and although his popularity has waned in recent times, he is to me a wonderful character and his series is magnificent and one of the best series of theatrical animated shorts in the thirties. It features a variety of unforgettable characters such as Olive and Bluto and it mostly managed to satisfy with its mix of good action and terrific humor. And although its quality stumbled later on in the early 40s, it was amazing during most of its 1930s run. So without further ado, here is my list of the best Popeye the Sailor short films. This is my personal list and I have to say that I only included the Fleischer entries on this list. So here we go.
This 1937 Popeye entry is unique for featuring a very different spinach use than anything done before or after it. Popeye usually eats spinach to gather strength to beat his opponents, but here he gave it to Bluto so Bluto could beat him up and he would end up in a hospital treated by Olive. It isn’t as funny as some of the other entries on this list, but it surely is entertaining with excellent action and a one of a kind, unforgettable premise beautifully executed.
This one benefits from such an outstanding usage of the bridge. The series has had many high-altitude settings like this throughout the years, but rarely has it been utilized this well and with some absolutely fantastic action sequences. But the standout here is Wimpy. He is the best supporting character in the Popeye canon and here he is hilarious. The scene in which he chose to get mustard instead of helping Popeye emphasized his obsession with sandwiches brilliantly and is probably the funniest scene in the series’ run.
This short follows Popeye trying to get rid of all the noise in order to keep the baby asleep. That concept was refreshing for its time as Popeye is the only character present here along with the baby. And although this formula would become really tired eventually in the series’ last years during those weak years in the beginning of the 40s, here it was done in a very good manner and the short is funny and ends superbly.
Popeye must firefight Olive’s house and save her while Bluto is there to make everything more difficult for him. And eventually he saves both of them and when Popeye makes sure that Bluto is okay, he punches him in the film’s climax. This premise sounds amazing, but the execution is more than great as well. It features one of Popeye’s funniest and most satisfying endings ever plus the action is amazing and it is a prime example of wacky physics in cartoons done right.
This cartoon features one of the funniest remarks about Olive’s physique ever in a great Bluto line. I have always really enjoyed the humor surrounding and here it is especially good. But watching Bluto harass a poor horse and then Popeye and Olive teaching him a lesson is naturally immensely rewarding with such a hilarious ending and with all three of the characters being top-notch this time around.
In this one Popeye saves Olive whom Bluto threw into the river and then the two square off by comparing their strength on the surrounding trees. Axe Me Another again features all three iconic characters in their full form which I of course adore, but it is not only funny, but also terrific in action. In fact, it features probably some of the best action sequences in the series with Popeye punching and chopping trees being the inventive highlight.
Popeye goes to propose to Olive, but she rejects his proposal for she is engaged to another sailor. Eventually the two fight and Popeye leaves Olive. Of course I would take any entry with these two lovebirds in an instant, but this one is of the funniest and most amusing kind. Olive’s line – “There goes the navy. Here comes the army!” – is so funny and it perfectly encapsulates her character in just one sentence. A hilarious film.
This entry is absolutely brilliant and it deservedly takes the third spot just because of Bluto. Popeye and Olive go to a magician’s show. The magician happens to be Bluto and he ridicules the two before Popeye beats him in the end. Yes, Popeye triumphs of course, but not easily at all. This is undoubtedly Bluto’s finest hour ever as he proved to be an exceptionally formidable opponent here and I loved that change in pace and it was very funny watching him torment the two.
A rare late entry on this list, 1938’s Learn Polikeness features Bluto teaching Popeye how to be a gentleman. Not only do we have both of the men at their best here, but we also have a plot that centers around Popeye’s brute behavior and of course that’s awesome. He has always been such a redneck, but here that is emphasized magnificently in a short that is very funny and almost perfectly constructed.
This 1935 entry sees Popeye trying to find a wife mainly for cooking and the service provides him Olive, but he has to fight with Bluto to get her. Eventually he sees how ugly she is with all of the make-up and dumps her. That ending is just hysterical and I laughed so hard watching it. It is one of the funniest scenes in any cartoon ever. But the whole film is phenomenal with a gorgeous attention to detail and a great look at 1930s dating scene. It features Popeye and Olive at their very best. They are always great together, but here they are unforgettable. Hilarious and perfectly executed, For Better or Worser is without any doubt the best Popeye short film of them all and it had to take my number one spot.
I Yam Love Sick – Here Popeye fools the doctors that he is sick so that Olive would care for him. it is naturally so funny, but also featuring some incredibly inventive moments in the hospital.
The Twisker Pitcher – As the only really good sports-oriented Popeye cartoon, it features hilarious Olive and such an inventive use of spinach as Popeye plants it himself before eating it.
Wild Elephinks – Watching Popeye fight all of the wild animals in Wild Elephinks is super rewarding and the highlight is the scene in which he makes coats out of them all.