Popeye and Olive Oyl in WILD ELEPHINKS (1933) – Far-out in the jungle


This cartoon begins on as surreal a note as you’ll ever find in these things. Popeye and Olive Oyl are adrift amid a raging sea on a very precarious raft. Far from concerned, Popeye is belting out his theme song and also belting any huge fish that happens his way. Olive is helpfully holding out open sardine cans to catch the fishes’ remains. Gilligan and the Skipper could have really used this pair on their three-hour tour.

The duo come ashore at a beast-filled jungle that seems a warm-up for the monsters they encounter in the later color cartoon Sindbad the Sailor. While Popeye is at work escaping from the grasp of an elephant, an ape makes off with Olive, King Kong-style. Two chimps see Popeye subduing the ape and send out an all-points bulletin for the other jungle creatures to hurry in and menace Popeye and Olive. Just to seal the deal, Olive breaks out the spinach and feeds it to Popeye, and in return she gets a lot of instant fur coats from the carcasses Popeye makes of the jungle creatures.

The cartoon is laced with non-stop, hallucinatory imagery. When viewers think of the Fleischers’ wacko, strangely colorful black-and-white cartoons, it’s delightful stuff like this that sets the template for it.

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


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