A Dream Walking is just delightful, in no small part due to its music. The Fleischers' cartoon soundtracks are plenty music-savvy, and it didn't hurt that they had access to the music library of their releasing company, Paramount. "Did You Ever See a Dream Walking?" was first sung in the Paramount feature Sitting Pretty (1933), whose main characters were based on the song's writers, Harry Revel and Mack Gordon. These days, studios would kill for as satisfying of a tie-in as this cartoon provides for its song.
The cartoon begins with Popeye, Bluto, and Olive Oyl all asleep in separate quarters of their apartment house. Olive's bedroom wall is feted with portraits of her two suitors on either side of her bed. She promptly starts to sleepwalk -- perhaps as her subconscious way of running away from the images of her two gruffy suitors?
Soon Olive is sleepwalking high above the city, barely missing some fatal falls. When Popeye and Bluto wake up and discover what's happened, they're more worried about indulging in a whizzing contest about who should rescue Olive than they are in actually carrying out the rescue. (My nomination for the funniest line in the series' history is Bluto’s admonishment to Popeye: “I'll save her, ya pop-eyed freak!”)
The main part of the cartoon, of course, is The Boys' rescue of sleepwalking Olive. It's a marvel of fluid animation, changing perspective, and vivid characterization. (Besides the macho "rescuers," we even get a nifty cameo from night watchman Wimpy.)
While The Boys are duking it out over who gets to be the hero, Olive walks her skyscraping path so blithely, one wonders if this is her bedtime routine every night. She finally makes it back to her apartment, and when Popeye looks in on her, she accuses him of being a peeping Tom -- which would be quite an effort, since her apartment is several stories above ground level. Don’t flatter yourself, lady.
A Dream Walking is most astounding in its nonchalance about its thoroughly thought-out and animated gags, which were just another day at the office for the Fleischers. One dreams (while sleepwalking?) of having such a richly executed cartoon these days.
© 2007, Steve Bailey.
Click here to return to:Our cartoon-list page