Pastor Steve's Popeye Page

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As I was growing up watching Popeye cartoons, I found myself sometimes rooting for Bluto.  And I think the creators did too.  Check out the music used in some of the cartoons and what you can see if you push the Slo-Mo button on your VCR remote control.



Page last updated 10-06-2008. 
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Music And The Man

In my article, "sex, popeyes, and video tape", I said that there were many elements of the Famous Studios' cartoons that led one, with repeated viewings, to sometimes root for Bluto (or another guy) and Olive to wind up together, instead of for Popeye to get the girl. One of the elements I mentioned was music.

Below are a few examples of moments when the orchestra played matchmaker for Bluto and Olive and dismissed and/or "dissed", as the kids say today, Popeye. This may have been done so that we would feel, at least at some level, that the villain had a chance with Olive, and so that suspense would be built up as we wondered what would become of poor Popeye. (If you have difficulty thinking of our hero as "poor Popeye", look at it another way instead - Popeye is such a powerful hero that he can prevail even when the background music is against him!)

I know that Winston Sharples used musical themes and snatches from then popular songs as he scored the cartoons, but those tunes are outside my area of pop music expertise, so in many cases, I can't come up with the titles. And I wasn't a music major in school so I can't get technical.  I will, however attempt to describe the music as best I can for you.

Popeye And The Pirates

"Love In Bloom" plays as Pierre and Olive meet and continues as he starts kissing her arms and neck. It recurs when he proposes to her and, in a good sight gag, when he literally showers her with jewels and crowns her as his queen.

The Royal Four Flusher

 A brass fanfare plays as the Count introduces himself to Olive Oyl. Then, what I call "Royal, Classy, Rich, Everything Is Smooth As Silk, Courting Music" plays as the two stroll arm-in-arm through the park. The orchestra joins the Count and Olive in laughing at Popeye's attempt to best the Count. Romantic music is heard after the Count ushers Olive into his penthouse and she is trying on the fur coat.

Mister And Mistletoe

A soft romantic version of "Deck The Halls" plays as Santa/Bluto and Olive decorate the tree.

Lumberjack And Jill

"Love In Bloom" plays as Bluto and Olive meet and walk away together arm-in-arm. Later, he sings it to her on their canoe ride and the orchestra obligingly chimes in to accompany him.

Jitterbug Jive

When Popeye arrives at Olive's, the music is slow, bucolic, and corny. The same music plays every time Popeye comes up with one of his unappreciated, old-fashioned party ideas. A clarinet laughs as Olive chews Popeye out. When Bluto arrives, exciting swing music plays in the background.

Quick On the Vigor

A sassy sax accompanies Bluto as he flirts with Olive Oyl. The same music continues when Olive walks away to spend the afternoon with him, leaving Popeye behind locked in a safe.

A Wolf 
In Sheik's Clothing

A seductive Arabian desert theme is heard in scenes when Olive is alone with the sheik.  And a song of triumph is heard as he carries her across the desert to his palatial tent.  When the scene switches to Popeye's antics as he follows them, a goofy, mocking version of his song is heard.

Vous Woo

Soft, romantic music plays as Olive swoons over The International's TV broadcast and as she and Bluto/International head for the couch and, later, out for a stroll. By contrast, the music mocks Popeye out as he tries to show Olive that he "can be romantical, too" and kisses her hand, causing her to turn into a huge block of ice. Thank goodness for spinach which finally enables Popeye at the end of the cartoon to turn her into a pool of melted butter. 


More Music And The Man

Vacation With Play

The background music shares Olive's and Bluto's anger when Popeye horns in on their fun. It mocks Popeye as he gets the pie in the face while Bluto and Olive Oyl go off together. Romantic music starts up as the two walk past the unconscious sailor on their way to their canoe ride. As they float along, the orchestra takes over for Bluto who has been singing, "I'm In The Mood For Love" to a swooning Olive Oyl. The music gets faster and builds to a furious climactic ending as Bluto gets Olive alone in his cabin and the door slams shut. All's quiet for a brief moment, as though to suggest that the cartoon's all over, the lovers are together, and we can all go home, before the "Olive In Danger" music starts up. When the squirrels try to act out for Popeye what Bluto and Olive must be doing in the cabin, a soft, romantic flute version of "I'm In The Mood For Love" plays briefly in the background almost to suggest that Bluto and Olive pitching woo together is a good thing. It also doesn't help to convey that Olive's in jeopardy when the squirrels are obviously having such a great time kissing and hugging each other. It's as though the creators aren't so sure whether or not it would be so bad if Olive fell for Bluto and gave into his "How's about a kiss, Babe?" request.

 More Music And The Man


Beaus Will Be Beaus

"Happy, We're Going To Have Fun Together, Things Are Progressing Nicely, Everything's Great" music plays throughout the cartoon, notably when Bluto and Olive arrive together at the beach without Popeye, when they leave him behind at the bathhouse to start snuggling under the beach umbrella, and, inexplicably, after Bluto dispatches Popeye for "the final time" and he and Olive are heading off for a romantic dinner together. I say "inexplicably", because in most cartoons, here's where you would expect the "Suspenseful, Uh-Oh, There's Trouble, Popeye's Losing, Thing's Aren't Right, Olive Needs Help" music to start. Instead, the orchestra conveys the feeling that everything's just swell and that it's looking forward to tagging along on Bluto and Olive's date without Popeye. Also, earlier in the picture, soft, romantic music plays as Olive is suspended in the water with Bluto's arms around her and he says, "I'll show you how to improve your stroke, Baby Face."

 More Music And The Man


Snow Place Like Home

A romantic version of "June In January" lets us know what's on Pierre and Olive's minds as he presents her with the fur coat and as they each get ready for their date. Suddenly, as Popeye interrupts, a kettle drum makes a "Boing" sound as if to say, "Sorry to stop the romance, folks, but here comes our comedy relief character." Later, "June In January" moves to a sweeping climax as Pierre and Olive flirt with bubblegum, she ends up in his arms, and he puckers up for a kiss. Surprised, jarring "changing emotion" notes are heard as Popeye enters the scene and snatches Olive away. It seems pretty obvious to me that the orchestra wanted Pierre to kiss her.

 More Music And The Man


Beach Peach

When the lifeguard meets and makes his play for Olive Oyl, the music that's been playing in the background takes on a sexy, muted brass sound. As the cannons tattooed on his chest come to life and blast Popeye across the beach, "Rule Britannia" is heard, giving the impression that a mighty and powerful naval hero has just vanquished an enemy. After the lifeguard saves Olive from drowning and she's swooning over him, the cartoon's musical theme takes on a soft, romantic sound. However, when Popeye comes up out of the water with the propeller around his neck, the music mocks him.

More Music And The Man


The Island Fling

This is one where the music indicates that the creators were REALLY on Popeye's rival's side and tries to push the viewer (often successfully, I might add) in that direction, too.  The cartoon starts out with Friday singing a catchy, sort of jazz number about how lonely Robinson Crusoe is on the island without a mate and how much he desires romance.  We, the viewers, enjoy the song - I keep running into people who remember snatches of it after years and years have passed - and are invited to sympathize and empathize with Mr. Crusoe.

When Crusoe spots Olive, the soundtrack has an arpeggio swelling into the film's other musical theme, "I'm In The Mood For Love."  This jaunty version of the song continues as he has his wolf reaction and then prepares himself and his bachelor's pad for her arrival.  As Popeye takes the point while he and Olive come ashore, goofy, cartoony music is heard and continues when Popeye is kissing the monkey.  But as Crusoe loses himself in kissing Olive's arm and shoulder, making his way to her lips, "I'm In The Mood For Love" plays again.  This time it is a straightforward romantic version.  Of course, the couple and their music are interrupted by Popeye and his own theme. 

Later, as Crusoe and Olive come to the table, the music uses happy, dreamy, cheerful, cutely romantic notes to build into a soft, South Seas version of "I'm In The Mood For Love" when the couple start dining.  Each time Olive naively disrupts one of Crusoe's passes by commenting on the food, blaring discordant notes are struck.  We laugh at what Olive's doing, but at the same time the irritating music invites us to share Crusoe's frustration.  And the jarring notes that keep interrupting the song seem to indicate that the natural flow of things would be for the song and the wooing to continue unabated.  It doesn't though, because just as Olive has caught on and is about to kiss Crusoe, Popeye pushes his way between them.  The music stops dead for a few moments.  Then it finishes the song with a mocking tone.

After sending Popeye off on a fool's errand, Crusoe joins Olive on the couch, pouring on his smooth charm.  The music does its part to get he and Olive together by playing a romantic version of "I'm In The Mood..."  The music suddenly interrupts itself with surprised notes as Popeye calls out. 

When Crusoe finally lures Popeye far away from Olive and buries him under tons of boulders, the music sounds an ominous death knell.  This is to be expected as the titular hero of the series has been disposed of.  But then the unexpected happens.  The soundtrack, rather than featuring "Popeye And/Or Olive In Jeopardy" music, instead, begins repeating introductory measures of "I'm In The Mood..." done in an ever-building, overjoyed, anticipating, bursting, "I can't wait" fashion as Crusoe rushes back to Olive at superspeed.  When he arrives and declares, "At last we are alone!" he is only expressing the emotion that the music already conveyed.  "I'm In The Mood..." begins in soft, romantic earnestness as Olive goes into full, non-verbal, take-no-prisoners, flirt mode and Crusoe goes to her, taking her head in his hands, and snuggling and nuzzling.  But, wait a minute!!  Popeye's gone and his girl has fallen for Crusoe!  Shouldn't the music be agitated, or wary, or playing some sort of doom theme?  Instead, it invites us to sit back and enjoy the love scene!  Suddenly, Popeye pops up through the floor boards with the treasure chest.  The music once again switches to a mocking tone, probably because Popeye's very presence mocks Crusoe's attempts at romance.  And remember that Crusoe is the one we have been rooting for since the opening song.  We share Crusoe's frustration as he jams Popeye into the treasure chest, jumps up and down on it and feeds it to the crocodiles. 

This proves to be too much for Olive, though, and she rejects Crusoe.  The result is that he's no longer a gentleman.  But, as he rows away with a tied up Olive, the "jeopardy music" that plays is a frantic, desperate, scared version of "I'm In The Mood For Love."  This brings up some questions.  Does the music give us Olive's point of view - that romance has gone disastrously, horribly wrong, or Popeye's view - that the bad guy is leaving with Olive, or Crusoe's view - that he needs to get away from Popeye and that if he could only get to another island where he and Olive could be alone, he could win her.  The use of that particular musical theme could easily lead one to think that it was Crusoe, not Popeye, who was desperate and frantically trying one last thing to make the romance work, particularly as Crusoe is seen purposely running away from Popeye.  More than one person (myself included) has rooted for Crusoe and Olive to get together in this cartoon for many reasons and not the least of them, I believe, is the music.



Another thing the creators did to heighten suspense was to throw in a couple of frames here and there which seemed to show Olive and Bluto (or the other guy) really falling for each other.  The best way to see these is by watching the scenes in slow motion.  Otherwise, they almost go by too fast to register.  But with the repeated viewing of the cartoons we Baby Boomers did, they left an impression.

WARNING: I've tried looking at scenes using the slow motion feature on several different VCRs.  Sometimes I saw what I'll describe below, and sometimes I didn't.  It all depends on how a given machine frames things.  It also seems to depend exactly when I press the slow motion button.  I can watch the same scene two times in a row and one time I'll see what I'm looking for and the next time I won't.  Maybe it has to do, too, with the speed I, or another, recorded the cartoons at.  Anyway, good luck and have fun!

The Island Fling

When Popeye's final interruption occurs with the treasure chest, Olive puts her hand on Mr. Crusoe's shoulder. Then she wraps her arms around his massive one.  All in front of Popeye while he's talking to them! 

It seems like Olive's making her choice.  (But then, of course, Crusoe blows it!) 

Mister And Mistletoe



During the disastrous mistletoe incident, Olive gets a very brief intensely angry look on her face before she looks stunned again.  It's as though she was surprised, then realized she had a chance to kiss Santa and got mad at Popeye for stopping her, and then went back to being confused.  This explains something. 

I hadn't seen this cartoon for years, yet I remembered that Olive Oyl was mad at Popeye when he came between her and Santa.  Yet when I finally saw the film, I thought I was wrong.  However, when I used slow motion, I found I had been right.  Somehow my subconscious mind registered those subliminal frames.  Later in the cartoon, Olive seems to happily snuggle in Santa's beard as they decorate the tree together.  

Then when Popeye comes up, while Santa's giving him the top candle, she does it again.  As Popeye is standing there!  (But, of course, Santa/Bluto blows it!)  Then after Popeye is gone and Olive's horrified at what has occurred, Bluto/Santa morphs into a wolfish looking face as he takes her, and he actually manages to kiss the struggling miss on the side and top of her head.

Snow Place 
Like Home

In the bubble gum scene, Olive Oyl very quickly and briefly looks like she's starting to pucker up to kiss Pierre before Popeye rushes in and she gets a concerned look on her face.

Service With A Guile

This one you can see at regular speed, but slow motion enhances it.  Olive Oyl looks like she's starting to kiss Bluto as she compliments him on fixing the car.  The shot then cuts abruptly away, so maybe she did!  And she initiated it!

A Wolf In Sheik's Clothing

In slow motion, the sheik stretches way out, practically grabbing Olive, before he goes to get the equipment to set up his booth.  This seems to convey the idea that the two will shortly come together.

Olive's "goo goo eyes" when she flirts with the sheik are much more pronounced in slow motion, too.  He's really getting to her!  At speed, it looks like Popeye interrupts before the sheik can kiss Olive in his tent.  In slow motion, however, he does manage for a split second to lay his lips on her.  And Olive has a quick look of anger on her face toward Popeye.

Vacation With Play

When Popeye interrupts Olive and Bluto who are flirting during archery and golf lessons, both angrily glare at him, not only showing that Olive wanted Bluto to woo her, but also that the two think exactly alike at times.

Klondike Casanova

After Cupid appears, notice that he gives Popeye a quick, disdainful glance, but approves of Dan McBluto and Olive Oyl being together.







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The Bluto Booster Page

All the aspects of Bluto I could think of are discussed on various Bluto pages.  Go here for a complete listing.

Oodles Of Olive Oyl

As the title says, lots about Olive Oyl.  You can choose from a number of titles to link to many other of my pages about this lovely  lady.


My Popeye Page.  Lots of links to my pages about the King Of Spinach.


This page was created using Corel Word Perfect Suite 8 and Netscape Navigator Composer. All characters and images are legal properties of their respective companies and are used here without permission for entertainment, review, and informational purposes only. All other material is copyright 1999, 2000, 2001, 2002, 2003, 2004, 2005, 2006, 2007, and 2008 by Steve R. Bierly.