Plot: Popeye is one of the most iconic cartoon characters of all time, battling with his rival Bluto, vying for the affections of Olive Oyl, and being a one man campaign to promote spinach consumption. In this Blu-ray release, we are given the first Technicolor theatrical shorts featuring our favorite sailor, produced from 1943-45 and shown here in their original versions. This is an important release for that reason, as we have both unedited cartoons and even once banned episodes, so for classic cartoon enthusiasts, this is great news. The original opening sequences and closing credits have also been restored here, so Warner Archive has given these Popeye shorts the kind of treatment they so rightly deserve.

But the value of this release goes beyond just having the original versions of the cartoons, as Warner Archive has gone back to the original Technicolor negatives for new 4k scans, which has yielded incredible results. These shorts look almost brand new, with crystal clear visual presentations that defy the senses, these cartoons don’t look ten years old, let alone over seven decades. The image has beautiful, rich color that pops off the screen, while sharpness is remarkable and all of the animation’s detail shines through, just mind blowing visual presence. While the image is super sharp, it doesn’t look overly scrubbed in the least, so the natural texture remains evident and overall, I think fans will be beyond thrilled with this release. And the animation is so well done and fun to watch, so seeing it like this is a real pleasure. The cartoons here feature Popeye and his usual cohorts like Bluto, Olive Oyl, and his rascal nephews, getting into various tight spots and adventures as per usual. These first fourteen Technicolor shorts offer a nice variety of stories and while most center on that timeless love triangle, there’s enough that don’t to keep things fresh. Here’s a list of the fourteen episodes included in this first volume, which represent 14/32 in the complete Technicolor run.

1. Her Honor, The Mare

2. The Marry-Go-Round

3. We’re On Our Way to Rio

4. The Anvil Chorus Girl

5. Spinach Packin’ Popeye

6. Puppet Love

7. Pitchin’ Woo at the Zoo

8. Moving Aweigh

9. She-Sick Sailors

10. Pop-Pie A La Mode

11. Tops in the Big Top

12. Shape Ahoy

13. For Better or Nurse

14. Mess Production

Final Thoughts: This kind of release is like a dream for animation fans, classic cartoons restored to their original versions and given a lush, new visual treatment. These shorts look simply amazing and while some controversial elements pop up at times, overall the stories hold up well and are so much fun to watch. I can’t imagine what more Popeye fans could ask, as Warner Archive has delivered and then some.

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