NEVER KICK A WOMAN (1936) – Popeye and Olive Oyl, (and) a complete bust


(WARNING: Major spoilers abound!)

Popeye and Olive are gazing through the window of a sporting-goods store, watching a buxom near-dominatrix beat up a boxing dummy that bears the sign, “Come In And Try Our Equipment.” (Naw, I’m not going there, and besides, Popeye does it himself later in the cartoon.)

Popeye coaxes Olive into the store with a charming song about learning “the art of self-defense.” Turns out the dominatrix has some arts of her own, including a Mae West-like voice (though I don’t recall Mae as muscle-bound).

(Besides the typically delightful gags, the score — another stand-out in these cartoons’ bag of tricks — is wonderfully done. Note the scene where Popeye and Olive each hit the boxing post; the self-defense song plays assertively to highlight Popeye’s moves, tentatively to showcase Olive’s. It’s these small touches that help to put the cartoons over so well.)

Mae puts designs on Popeye, making him blush extraordinarily colorfully for a black-and-white cartoon. Olive gets so jealous that she and Mae, in a twist on the usual Popeye-and-Bluto scenario, start literally fighting for Popeye, who seems unusually eager to witness the catfight. Initially, Mae knocks Olive into four different hairstyles. But a bedraggled Olive notices a spinach can sticking out of Popeye’s pocket, and…well, so much for the dominatrix.

This otherwise flawless cartoon missed the opportunity for an obvious musical coda, from Popeye to Olive: “Dem goils with big busts you’ll scare off with your muscules, says Popeye the Sailor Man! [Toot, toot!]”

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