sissydude sinema: robert altman’s popeye (1980)
It’s not perfect… but it’s Altman, so it’s interestin’. Duvall is a perfect Olive Oyl (though Gilda Radner was originally cast but couldn’t get out of her SNL contract). Robin Williams makes a weirdly sexy Popeye. The sets & costumes are outstanding! Features the lovely Nilsson song “He Needs Me”. That is all…
“But [Popeye] comes off a little like some of the Jacques Tati comedies, where you can see the intelligence and skill that went into the gags yet you don’t hear yourself laughing. Altman may have been trying too hard, taking the task of creating a live-action musical version of a comic strip (the screenplay was based on Elzie Segar’s Thimble Theatre) too literally….
“…. In cartoons, the creatures can do anything; their bodies don’t get in the way and can’t be hurt. But when you watch the actors in Popeye doing cartoon stunts, you’re aware of gravity and how difficult what they’re doing is. When you see an actor lifted up and put on a hot stove, the literalneess is dumb and oddly unpleasant. Maybe certain kinds of jokes—especially the ones involving transformations and mayhem, and the ones that derive from the absence of gravity—need the shift in imagination that we make at a cartoon” – Pauline Kael