Popeye, Olive Oyl, and Bluto in MY ARTISTICAL TEMPERATURE (1937) – But is it art?

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(WARNING: Major spoilers abound!)

The cartoon opens outside the Sweet Art Studio. (Speaking of “artistical,” you gotta love that subway shadow at the fade-in. Some of these unheralded Fleischer moments put even Walt Disney to shame.) The studio’s come-on signs read: “Portraits Painted – If It Looks Like You, $10; If It Doesn’t, $15,” and “Sculpturing Done Without Chiseling.” Ten points for guessing which he-man does the painting and which one does the sculpturing.

Popeye is sculpturing a woman holding a vase upward, but the arms keep slipping, so Popeye rips the arms off and turns her into a Venus DeMilo. But jealous painter Bluto lobs some black paint at her and turns her into Al Jolson.

Customer Olive Oyl enters and says she’ll sit for a portrait and a sculpture and then pay for whichever looks the best. (Nice. She ought to just come right out Wimpy-style and say, “I’ll gladly pay you Tuesday for a work of art today.”)

Popeye sculpts a brilliant likeness of Olive, except that the likeness comes out standing on her hands, so Popeye makes Olive do the same. Olive is surprisingly agreeable to this, but of course Bluto isn’t, so they beat each other up by way of tearing apart their studio. (Do they do this with every customer?)

The ensuing violence is actually quite funny, as The Boys’ fighting inadvertently “turn” each other into famous works of art. As The Three Stooges taught us, trying to teach culture to those who aren’t prepared for it can often be a dangerous thing.

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

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