Good evening, folks, and welcome. Our show will be starting shortly. Please turn off your cell phones and take this time to notice where the exits are. Instead of refraining from unnecessary conversation, talk as much as you’d like right down below in the comments section.
9:05. Live blogging will begin in 10 minutes down below. While you’re waiting, a short feature:
9:12 Got your popcorn and cold drinks?
9:17 Start the show already! 1…2…3…go
I forgot he opened with the real Popeye.
You read it right. It’s a Disney flick. Robert Altman worked for Mickey Mouse on this one.
9:18 Harry Nillson used to be Nillson, didn’t he?
Good Jules Feiffer let them use his name in the credits, considering how frustrated he got with Altman. Altman wasn’t any more respectful of Fieffer’s writing than he was of any writer he worked with.
First appearance of Popeye and he’s looking not so Popeye-esque.
9:23. A New In Town Tax?
A curiosity tax?
The opening of the first Pirates of the Caribbean suddenly doesn’t seem as original as it did.
I forgot, he doesn’t like Spinach.
Bill Irwin was in this? I must not have known who he was when I saw this the first time.
“Oyl. That explains it. She’d down a quart.” My favorite line.
Shelley’s not doing Olive Oyl’s voice.
“Never seen a room done in early demolition before.” I wonder if the DVD special features includes identification of the lines Williams ad libbed vs. the ones Fieffer wrote.
I’m getting sea sick. There’s a little too much motion at this table.
9':36 here, 9:00 in Seahaven.
Love the flap on Bluto’s longjohns.
Pappy’s been gone 30 years? In the cartoon he was gone 40. Left the day Popeye was born.
They don’t sing in Seahaven so much as chant. It’s like an abbey.
“Don’t you remember when I was born and I was very small and I looked just like a little baby?”
That’s from the cartoon. Here Popeye is 32 years old. A fine figure of an orphink.
Beginning to look like Altman’s standing direction to the crowd was “Do something funny.”
Thug as punching bag a gag taken right from the cartoons. Wish they’d taken more.
Breaking out the classic Popeye the Sailor Suit.
I’m trying to figure out what Olive likes about Bluto. She’s just not being specific enough in her song.
My son Ken just said goodnight. He says he likes Robin Williams as Popeye but the songs are driving him away.
Bill Irwin is a phenomenon, a living cartoon.
9:57. Bluto did more than growl in the cartoons, didn’t he?
He was vain, boastful, bullying, and charming in his way or thought he was.
43 minutes in and we really haven’t gotten anywhere yet have we?
In 43 minutes Max Fleischer could tell 5 stories.
I always wonder why the makers of movies adapted from TV shows don’t take advantage of the fact that they have a lot of their movie already written for them.
The whole bit of Bluto knocking Popeye for a literal loop and then drilling him through the dock and into the water would have been done with CGI today and would have looked more like a cartoon because it would have been a cartoon. But I think that even without CGI the bit could have looked more like a cartoon instead of looking like people trying to look like a cartoon.
10:12 Boxing match. First cartoon within a cartoon.
NOW Shelley’s talking like Olive. What happened? Somebody remember?
Those arms and legs of Popeye’s were stuffed with straw.
According to the Oral Biography, the original make up artists couldn’t figure out how to make the arms work. Altman lucked into some special effects guys from Italy.
10:17. Songs are making me want to say goodnight too.
Has Olive shrunk or has Popeye grown or did Altman never bother to make Olive taller?
b-girls? In their underwear? I don’t remember any of those in the cartoons.
Standing direction to the crowd still seems to be “Be funny.”
“No child of mine is going to be a raysking trout.”
I’ll settle for a script with Fieffer’s lines highlighted in yellow and Williams’ ad libs in blue.
A song called “I Yam What I Yam” was inevitable, I suppose.
Would it have broken the budget to hire a real choreographer and some real dancers? And maybe the cast could have rehearsed a bit. The “dances” look like they’re being improvised.
A shot of Olive’s goofy boots? Well, that covers a lot of sins, doesn’t it, Altman?
Like I said, would it have been so hard to hire a choreographer?
Did you watch the cartoon above? Nilsson didn’t. Neither did Altman.
10:41. I forgot Poopdeck Pappy was the bad guy.
But at least Roy Walston knew how to sell a song.
“A rat! A crook! A kidnapper! AND a commodore!” Next time I want to insult someone I’m going to call them a commodore.
Who let that little kid say “Kick him in the butt”?
“We got the same squinky eye?”
“What squinky eye?” One of my other favorite lines.
Wish they’d brought Walston in sooner. He and Williams seem to be the only two who understood what they were supposed to be doing.
“You ain’t my father. My father is tall and kind and looks like Abryham Linking.” My favorite favorite line.
Is this a song? “Children.”
According to The Oral Biography the production was out of money by the time Altman was ready to film the final chase. But does your budget dictate how you pace and edit a scene?
People falling into water while screaming. High hilarity.
Disney was financing this movie, I guess. Looks like they saved money by borrowing the octopus from the Nautilus ride at Disneyland.
10:59. Pipe as periscope gag. Classic Popeye moment. Should they have had an eye bulging out of it or would that have been overdoing it?
Haul ass? Haul…ass? And somebody said shit a little while ago. Budget blown so they figure what the hell with the language?
Book said they were completely out of money so Altman had to scramble for covering footage to fill out the ending.
I think even without money they could have found a way for the octopus to box back.
11:06 Everybody sing.
I’m one tough cazookis
Who hates all palookas
Who ain’t up on the up and square.
I biffs ‘em and boff’s em and nobody gets nowhere.
And that’s it. It’s over.
Bill Irwin played Ham Gravy, Olive’s old boyfriend.
Trivia: In E.C. Segar’s original comic strip, Thimble Theatre, Ham Gravy was the main character, with the Oyls, father and son, Castor and Coal, as the main secondary players. Popeye was introduced later, a minor character who was just passing through.
Feiffer wanted the movie to be more like the comic strip than like the Max Fleischer cartoons. Altman was right not to go that direction, only because there’d have been no audience for a movie based on the comic strip. An audience for the movie would have made up of people expecting a version of the cartoons they’d grown up with. I doubt many people even knew the comic strip came before the cartoons. If they knew there was a comic strip.
But after seeing the movie again I have to wonder if Thimble Theater should have been more of the model, for Altman’s sake. Most of the best of the Fleischer cartoons are condensed epics. Altman was not an epic filmmaker. The comic strips were heavy on dialog and character were more up Altman’s alley.
Altman could never bring himself to stick with a script, but he seems to have relied on his memory of what the Fleischman cartoons were like. The real cartoons were pretty tightly scripted and if he didn’t want to shoot what Feiffer wrote, he had what Fleischer’s writers wrote, so he could had his pick of plots and subplots. He didn’t have to make a movie that worked towards an epic fight scene that he couldn’t deliver.
11:16 Who stuck with this till the end? Thoughts?
I need to think this over. Meantime, wouldn’t this have been great to see Williams and Duvall act out? Would have needed a real Bluto played by a real actor too instead of just a big guy who growls a lot.