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With: (voices) Jack Mercer, Mae Questel, Jackson Beck
Written by: Dick Kinney, Al Bertino, etc.
Directed by: Seymour Kneitel, etc.
MPAA Rating: Not Rated
Running Time: 480
Date: 18/03/2013

Popeye: 75th Anniversary Celebration Collector's Edition (2004)

1 Star (out of 4)

Spoiled Spinach

By Jeffrey M. Anderson

Buy Popeye: 75th Anniversary Celebration Collector's Edition on DVD

When I first received word about the new three disc DVD box set Popeye: 75th Anniversary Celebration Collector's Edition, I was understandably excited. I'm a huge fan of Max and Dave Fleischer, the animator brothers who broke into the field with the 1918 Out of the Inkwell and did wonders with Betty Boop and Superman. Of their 100-plus Popeye cartoons, at least a half a dozen of them are little masterworks.

I already own Winstar's 2000 DVD 70 Years of Popeye, which features poor quality video transfers and artificially enhanced sound for its 12 cartoons. But two of them, Customers Wanted and Popeye the Sailor Meets Ali Baba and the Forty Thieves are worth the trouble. I was looking forward to replacing that chintzy little disc with Koch Lorber's new one.

Here's the rub: the new Popeye doesn't contain a single Fleischer cartoon, nor does it contain any of the Paramount cartoons from the 1950s. Instead it contains 85 shorts from 1960-61, produced by King Features. These are the bottom of the barrel -- ultra-cheap and derivative and miles away from the quality of the originals. The plots are aimed at sub-level intelligence and the sanctity of the characters is ruined. (Olive Oyl dresses up as a beatnik in one episode and Swee-pea talks.)

Koch Lorber obviously put a lot of work into this new set, and the quality of the restoration is admirable. But I hope that no one gets fooled like I did into thinking that this set represents an across-the-board celebration of Popeye from the 1930s on. For that set, we still have to wait.

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