Popeye, Olive Oyl, and Bluto in I’M IN THE ARMY NOW (1936) – A strange recruitment poster


Given that early-era Popeye cartoons rarely show our military man in the military, this cartoon’s title promises far more than it delivers. Here’s where the Popeye “cheater” cartoons really start to live up to their name.

Popeye and Bluto are (all together now) rivals for Olive’s affection. The trio happen to pass an Army recruiting office, where Olive tells The Boys that she just loves: (a) a strong man, (b) a romantic man, (c) a man in uniform, or (d) all of the above. You’d be forgiven for answering d since Olive’s allegiances change like most people change their socks, but for the purposes of this cartoon, the answer is c.

Popeye and Bluto should be wary of the recruiting officer, since his outfit resembles that of the Kaiser. Instead, The Boys try to impress the officer with tales of their exploits, which means they pull out old photos that come to life with their old cartoons. (Two green recruits come in with their own movie clips as a resume. If I was the officer, I’d be more impressed with that than anything else.)

The clips are from the earlier cartoons Blow Me Down!, Shoein’ Hosses, Choose Yer ‘Weppins’, and King of the Mardi Gras. Popeye wins the contest (hope that didn’t spoil the climax for you). In an ambiguous finish, Popeye emerges through the wall “wearing” the uniform from the recruiting poster, and that seems to be enough to satisfy Olive (at least until World War II).

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

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