Monday, October 10, 2016

Popeye: "Fright To The Finish"

Premiered August 27, 1954.

"So beware this Halloween Eve, when the Earth will be haunted by spooks, ghosts, and hobgoblins."
-Olive Oyl

It's Halloween night and Olive Oyl (Mae Questel) is reading a book of spooky stories.  This sets Olive on edge and she is afraid that ghosts and hobgoblins will haunt her.

Popeye the sailor (Jack Mercer) and Bluto (Jackson Beck), Popeye's rival for Olive's affections, are bored by Olive's frightful tales.  Bluto wishes Popeye would leave so he can be alone with Olive, Popeye wonders why Bluto hasn't gone home already.

Bluto gets a fiendish idea.  He will scare Olive Oyl out of her wits and blame Popeye, which will send her into his arms.  Bluto perpetrates several Halloween tricks to further his plan.

Will Bluto succeed?

J.A. Morris says:
I grew up watching various Popeye cartoons and I've long been a fan of the spinach-eating sailor. Fright To The Finish was produced by Famous Studios.  Hardcore Popeye fans prefer the Fleischer Brothers shorts, but this Halloween toon is pretty good.  Fright To The Finish has great animation and is packed with sight-gags from start to finish.

It's full of great Halloween imagery like skeletons and jack o'lanterns.  The voice cast is also excellent.  Jack Mercer (who is also credited with writing Fright To The Finish) voiced Popeye for nearly five decades and he does a great job here.  Mae Questel (the definitive Olive Oyl voice actress) and Jackson Beck are also very good.

(A mild SPOILER below)

Fright To The Finish is a rare Popeye cartoon where the sailor man does not save the day by eating spinach.  I watched it several times before I noticed this departure from the formula.

This short can be found on a dvd called Popeye:The Sailor Man (75th Anniversary Collection) and it can also be streamed on Amazon.

Fright To The Finish is a very enjoyable Halloween cartoon and is highly recommended.

J.A. Morris' rating:

4 Jack O'Lanterns!

RigbyMel says:

This is quite an enjoyable animated short.  

There is definitely an emphasis on the "trick" aspect of "trick or treat" on full display here,  as well as some rather wonderful sight gags -- particularly involving poor Olive Oyl's reactions to the appearance of various Bluto-created ghosties and beasties.    One almost has to admire Bluto's Halloween prank ingenuity.  

There were several bits of this short that reminded me a bit of the Brom Bones/Ichabod Crane rivalry as depicted in the 1949 Disney incarnation of the "Legend of Sleepy Hollow", but the dynamic is different enough not to detract from the fun.  

Popeye plans to get his own back with a little help from some of Olive's vanishing cream
I also love that we get a series of "vanishing cream" gags in this. I've always enjoyed the way cartoons will play with this notion since it's totally what little kids think of when they hear the term "vanishing cream."  

I  find it interesting to see the way that different signs and signifiers of the spooky season are deployed in this short -- we don't see children trick or treating, but we do get ghost story telling, pranks, skeletons, jack o'lanterns and even ghostly manifestations, after a fashion.   Halloween is not quite as strictly codified as other holidays and this makes for intriguingly varied pop cultural takes on the spooky season.

RigbyMel's rating:

4 Jack O'Lanterns!

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