Popeye in SOCK-A-BYE BABY (1934) – With a cameo appearance by Harpo Marx

SockAByeBaby

This short has the most ominous opening credits of any Fleischer Popeye cartoon. Behind the credits, we hear the familiar lullaby “Rock-a-Bye, Baby,” punctuated with loud punches. This is not going to bode well for somebody.

At least, happily, Popeye is not socking the baby he’s caretaking — he’s socking those who might wake up the baby with their loud noises. The first person to receive such a socking is no less than Harpo Marx (or at least a recognizable caricature of him), who is loudly playing his harp on the street corner (happens all the time). After Popeye whacks him, Harpo continues playing, albeit with a halo over his head as he ascends to heaven.

It only gets more bizarre. In an apparent attempt to placate the squalling infant, Popeye gives him a ukulele (would Dr. Spock have recommended this?). When the kid can’t tune the instrument to his satisfaction, Popeye grabs it back from him and strums and sings a lullaby. The song mellows out the babe so much that he grabs Popeye’s pipe, which unsurprisingly knocks the kid out.

Popeye happens to pass a music school filled with students and teachers in full orchestral mode. One by one, they live to regret it.

Then Popeye sinks an entire ship that has a tragically (for them) loud foghorn. And when he comes across a loud radio, rather than unplugging it or turning it off, he sends a resounding hit through the radio’s airwave, knocking out the offending singer. This guy certainly takes the long way around to reach a simple destination.

And heaven help those skyscraper builders making all that noise, and those cars that are honking about the baby (that Popeye has left in the middle of the road!) — can’t you guys see this kid is trying to sleep?? Popeye pops some spinach to knock out the cars, I guess because tearing down that half-finished building knocked all the strength out of him.

Ironically, a single safety pin falling out of the carriage wakes up the baby and starts him squalling again. So Popeye literally zips the kid’s mouth up and bleats his theme song at him. When all else fails, parents, dominate the little bugger! If Olive Oyl had seen this cartoon, she’d never have let Popeye get within a mile of Swee’Pea.

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

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