Well, blow me down – they said it could never happen. They said that it would be impossible to get two of the biggest media corporations in the same room at the same time and agree to the same terms…but somewhere round these parts a very hot place lies frozen over: Warner Brothers and King Features Syndicate have made suitable arrangements to bring Popeye, the much-loved spinach guzzling sailor man, to DVD and this week marks the occasion.
And we, simply, couldn’t be happier!
Tell the truth, it’s about darned time; the original Warner-owned Fleischer shorts have been held up in copyright wrangles with King Features (the ubiquitous newspaper strip character owners) for years, meaning multiple releases of the same old, faded public domain prints coming up to air on most discs you wouldn’t even use for coasters! But, as of Tuesday this week, those original, gloriously black and white cartoons, plus a serious treasure horde of bonus material and rarities, make their restored way to screens in this nifty little package (Best Buy even has a limited collector’s tin):
So how have we got you covered here at Views? Unfortunately our review copy didn’t come in yet, so our Popeye expert Randall Cyrenne will be experiencing the many wonders of the collection along with the rest of us vintage animation die-hards (look for his review soon). He’s certainly been eating his spinach though, and those bulging arms of his have helped serve up a feast of Popeye content, from the history of the characters, various appearances from cartoons, films and even in CGI, and the long, long journey to DVD! Take your pick:
• Popeye: A Sailor’s Story – looks back on Popeye’s creation by Elzie Segar for the Thimble Theater comic strip and takes in the sailor man’s many adventures over the years!
• An Interview With Popeye’s Number One Fan – Fred Grandinetti speaks exclusively to us about his long battle to help Popeye come to DVD and his hand in the new official DVD!
• Popeye: 75th Anniversary Collector’s Edition – Rand takes a look at the post Fleischer 1960s cartoons made for television by King Features, together in a three disc collection!
• Popeye (1980 live-action movie) – My own unabashed take on the flawed but highly entertaining Robin Williams vehicle, with songs by Harry Nilsson, directed by Robert Altman!
• Popeye’s Voyage: The Quest For Pappy – Popeye’s strangest adventure sees him as never before: battling the Sea Hag and looking for his pop as a computer generated sailor!
So there we have it! You might have noticed we’re pretty happy about things! I’ve been a major fan of these shorts since airings in the 1980s, and with this set I can finally retire my off-air AAP-print tapings. It’s been a long time coming and now seems the wait was well worth it. Is that the case? We’ll know soon enough when Rand manages to whip his review into shape, but in the meantime, I’m sure you’ll agree that having all of Popeye’s best on DVD is a great reason to celebrate!