Sunday, July 12, 2009

Popeye the Sailor in “Private Eye Popeye” (1954).

The Popeye color cartoons from the Famous/Paramount studio were always well animated – but the stories were largely ill-conceived and nauseatingly repetitious. Pick a setting and drop Popeye, Olive Oyl, and Bluto into it, and go on auto-pilot. Or, so it seemed.

But, on occasion, they resisted formula and produced something fun. Private Eye Popeye is such a short. And one not yet available on DVD.

Sure, he’s NOT A SAILOR (one of my main complaints) but the “Popeye/Olive/Bluto” triangle is absent and Jackson Beck’s “evil butler jewel thief” makes a good one-shot villain.

As a detective, Popeye apes the shtick of another popular animated character of the time – Tex Avery’s DROOPY – but we hardly mind, as this cartoon is a welcome break from formula.

One final, personal note… I’d never seen this cartoon in color before – as we got our first color TV set in 1968, and I’ve somehow managed to miss this cartoon on TV ever since. There’s a nice gag whenever the gem is exposed, that I’d never noticed until seeing this one online.

Enjoy Jack Mercer, Mae Questel, and Jackson Beck in “Private Eye Popeye”… Toot! Toot!


Chris Barat said...


They COULD have tied the private eye gig in with Popeye's status as a sailor: NCIS! ;-)

The "Blut-ler"'s reactions to Popeye popping up here, there, and everywhere illustrate one of Famous' major failings: they fell short in the area of exaggerated humor (apart from "pancake" gags and such). The reactions should have been much wilder in the Avery tradition... or even in Tom & Jerry's.


Joe Torcivia said...


Yes, of course! If you’re going to rip-off DROOPY, you might as well rip him off all the way!

But, I wonder what animation fandom’s reaction would have been if the Avery “homage” actually was far more blatant? No matter, Famous still gets props for doing something different for a change – even if they could have taken it further.

And, hey… Popeye DID spend one brief scene in a BOAT in this one!