Posts Tagged ‘Private Eye Popeye’


Cartoon Hell #35 – “Private Eye Popeye”

January 25, 2010

Cartoon Hell is TheKarpuk’s attempt to review every single installment in an awful $5 collection called “150 Classic Cartoons” purchased at his local Wal-Mart. Your prayers are welcome.

Sounds like an affliction the elderly would get.

You can only make so many Popeye cartoons where he loses Olive Oyl to Bluto, then beats Bluto into a coma. Sometimes changing the setting isn’t enough. Eventually they had to give him actual occupations beyond being a sailor who did no actual sailing.

 Why, in the mid-fifties, with hard-boiled fiction and movies at a high rate of popularity, did they decide to dress up Popeye as Sherlock Holmes for his detective outing? Did they not think people would realize he was a detective if he simply wore a Sam Spade costume? It speaks to the general cluelessness of the Fleischers as a whole. 

I guess with a squint that prominent a magnifying glass might be useful.

Popeye receives a scream via phone, and traces the call by following the wire using a magnifying glass, because this cartoon is intent on using the laziest visual shorthand for everything. 

He follows telephone line to a fabulous home, one suspiciously similar to the nice home in every Fleischer cartoon, finding the door left ajar. He of course enters. At this point I’m completely unsold on the whole premise. Why is a man trained as a sailor doing any of this? An alternate theory comes to mind, if you’ll indulge me for a moment.

 Maybe Popeye is a infant with progeria acting out his fantasies? All this behavior would make perfect sense if done by a five year old. Of course a little kid would think detectives still dress like Sherlock Holmes. He’d also think a magnifying glass was the most important tool for a private investigator, and that the hat is a requirement. 

Sadly, this theory doesn’t change what Popeye actually is. Once he goes through the door, a crazed Olive Oyl opens fire with a Tommy Gun, creating a Popeye-shaped outline of bullets. This is one of those gags where I stop for a moment and ask, “Was this ever funny?” Maybe it’s like that chicken crossing the road gag, where it’s never evoked laughter, but always comes so easily that hacks can’t resist.