Thursday, March 19, 2020

I Yam What I Yam

I overslept a little this morning, but I did have time for breakfast and To Tell the Truth. Three elderly nuns who claimed to also be a car mechanic didn't stump the panel at all. They all went for big, tough number one...and they were, indeed, right.

The panel on What's My Line had less luck figuring out what unique instrument a teen girl played. (Especially since her comely looks rather distracted Gene Rayburn and Gene Schallit of the bushy mustache.) Turns out she played the saw, and even gave a nice performance. Arlene Francis got to ogle the next contestant, a handsome young speaker.

Spent all of work cleaning the bathrooms and wiping down doors and credit card machines. I tried to get to everything, but the running around was tiring, and I'm fed up with hearing everyone talk about the virus at work. At least they had food in the back again, tangerines and bananas along with snacks, mini-pies, and bags of mini-muffins.

Rushed home as soon as I could get out the door. Changed, then had a quick lunch and made popcorn while running the third Popeye the Sailor: The 40's set. It starts out well with "Olive Oyl for President," a remake of "Betty Boop for President." When Popeye laughs at the idea of a female president, Olive tells him what she'd do if she were in charge.

Most of the other cartoons don't get quite that creative. The majority are once again variations on the Bluto/Popeye/Olive love triangle. Bluto gets to play everything from an amorous caveman ("Pre-Hysterical Man") to Hercules at the first Olympics ("Popeye Meets Hercules") to the Sheriff of Nottingham ("Robin Hood-winked"), with Popeye taking him down every time.

By the end of the decade, Famous Studios was strapped for ideas to keep Popeye going. Clip show cartoons - shorts made up of clips from other shorts, with new wrap-around material - had been common going back into the Fleischer Brothers era. We get two such shorts here. "Popeye's Premiere" is just "Aladdin and His Wonderful Lamp" with new wrap-arounds about Popeye and Olive attending the short's debut. "Spinach Vs. Hamburgers" has Popeye showing his nephews what spinach can do for them via sequences from other shorts. (Including the rather offensive "Pop-pie A La Mode.") There's also another cartoon that may offend many people today, the Pilgrim-and-Indian "Wigwam Whoopee."

Remakes also became more common as the decade wore on. Cartoons reworked from earlier Fleischer Brothers material included "Barking Dogs Don't Fite," "A Balmy Swami," and "The Fly's Last Flight." The last-named takes us into the 50's with a cartoon that seems more like something Donald Duck would star in than Popeye. He's bedeviled by a fly who just won't let him sleep and ends up destroying his home to get rid of it. If my public domain set is any indication, this wouldn't be the last short that focused on Popeye dealing with an annoying critter.

Also worth mentioning - there's one cartoon, "A Wolf In Sheik's Clothing," we're apparently lucky to have at all. Ten shorts were made in Polarcolor, a short-lived cheap alternative to three-strip Technicolor. Apparently, the magenta strip of "Wolf" was lost and the remaining elements weren't in good shape. What's there is noticeably a bit more faded and pastel than the others, but it's far from unwatchable and doesn't look horrible.

Ehh, ultimately, the Warner Archives Popeye sets are mainly for major fans of the character or those who have fond memories of when these ran in the theaters or on TV.

Worked on writing for a while after the disc ended. Richard comes in to complain to Ethel (Merman) and her stepdaughters about their treatment of Fannie. He quickly tells them he's a visiting prince and his entourage who just fought a sorceress and need their rest. Meredith cuddles up to him, hoping to gain his favor. Vicki doesn't really care, even though her sister drags her along. Gene has to break them up, claiming they'll be at the ball.

Broke for dinner at 6:30. Had leftovers while watching Match Game. We finished out the Ed Asner/Julie London run with the shy contestant making it to the Audience Match and going up against a more personable young man. Sale of the Century crowned a new champion, a young man who came from behind in the speed round to beat the woman champ. He also opted to come back and try for that big shopping spree.

Finished the night with The 'I Don't Care' Girl. I go further into this odd "biography" of vivacious vaudeville performer Eva Tanguay starting Mitzi Gaynor at my Musical Dreams Movie Reviews blog.

The 'I Don't Care' Girl

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