Popeye, Olive Oyl, and Bluto in SHAKESPEARIAN SPINACH (1940) – A farce by any other name


The marquee for Spinach Theatre (!) reads, “Tonight – Popeye and Olive Oyl in Romeo and Juliet.” Bluto comes to the theater and, certainly not to my surprise, has a fit over seeing a poster of Popeye as Romeo. He rips the poster away to see his own poster crossed out beneath Popeye’s, with the added message: “Dear Bluto: Your services are no longer required. – YOU HAM!! — The Management.” Suffice to say, Bluto is not about to handle this by filing suit with the Theater Guild.

Upon their entrances, Olive and Popeye launch into a horrifyingly musical version of “R & J,” and it quickly becomes clear that Bluto could easily ruin the show just by writing a review of it. Instead, Bluto fiddles with the lighting and special effects to mess up the show and generally yank Popeye’s chain. Eventually, Bluto removes Popeye and tries to take over for him on stage, but Olive will have none of it.

Popeye makes it back onto the stage in female garb, replacing Olive as Juliet, and pulling Olive away before Bluto can…er, what, co-star with her?? What all of this has to do with “R & J” is anyone’s guess, but the crowd loves it. Bluto uncovers a placard reading “Death Scene” (which always occurs at least four minutes into the play, right?) and uses it as an excuse to wail on Ms. Popeye, who either is dead (yeah, sure) or is acting out Juliet’s demise.

Bluto-as-Romeo cries, while from the wings, Olive throws an R.I.P. wreath made of spinach onto Popeye. The play ends with Shakespeare’s famous “To eat some spinach and kick Bluto’s butt or not, that is the question” soliloquy. (Well, not exactly, but it makes as much sense as anything else in this mishmash.)

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

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