Popeye, Bluto, and Swee’Pea in THE FOOTBALL TOUCHER DOWNER (1937) – A downer, indeed

popeye1-32(WARNING: Spoilers abound!)

Popeye tries to feed spinach to baby Swee’pea, who will have none of it — even when Popeye downs some of it and shows Swee’pea that it gives muscles to his muscles. Popeye confesses to Swee’pea the incredible revelation that he didn’t like spinach when he was a kid, either. (Oh, so that urban legend didn’t begin with Robin Williams’ version of Popeye in 1980, then.)

Popeye then gives Swee’Pea a flashback about how spinach saved the day when he was a little kid playing football against Bluto. Depicting kiddie versions of cartoon icons was probably a novel idea in 1937, decades before the gimmick was worn thin by TV spin-offs such as “Muppet Babies” and “Flintstone Kids.”

So what’s left is mostly a series of football spot-gags, the likes of which were far funnier in You Gotta Be a Football Hero. This cartoon’s voicework is a mixed bag, too. While Jack Mercer’s mumblings have never been so welcome as they are here, whoever is doing the junior version of Bluto sounds more like Elmer Fudd.

Oh, yeah, Swee’Pea eats the spinach and gives Popeye the beating that Popeye usually gives to Bluto. Sometimes the lesson parents teach aren’t always the ones our kids learn.

On a rating scale of 1 to 4 spinach cans, I give this cartoon:  CanCanCanHalf

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