Popeye, Olive Oyl, and Bluto in HOLD THE WIRE (1936) – Can you hear me now?


(WARNING: Major spoilers abound!)

Olive is curled up with a romance magazine when Popeye’s phone call interrupts her. He wants to go out with her, but Olive tells him he’s not romantic enough, whereupon he reads sappy poetry to her and wins her over.

Bluto walks to Olive’s house, overhears her conversation with Popeye, and of course butts in. Being a seasoned telephone lineman (who knew?), Bluto is able to tear off the receiver from a nearby phone, climb the telephone pole outside Olive’s house, switch lines, and insult Olive over the phone and make her think Popeye is to blame. Gotta give the guy his props — most guys would just try to cut the phone line and get electrocuted in the process.

Popeye figures out Bluto’s trick and climbs the pole, and we’re off on another Bluto-bash far above terra firma. Popeye is about to lose for good when Olive sends him an urgent phone message: “Eat your spinach!” (Popeye’s prize-winning retort: “I never thought of that.” Get a clue, sailor!)

Popeye does a mini-sequel to Man on the Flying Trapeze and knocks Bluto for the usual loop. The phone-wire fight yanks Olive right out of her house, but Popeye saves her at the last moment. The cartoon’s final image is of Popeye and Olive in romantic shadow atop the telephone pole, as the city’s phone customers complain about their loss of service. Somebody invent the cell phone, quick!

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