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Fowl Play

Original release date: Dec. 17, 1937

Popeye enters this movie singing his theme song with what seems to be an echo. It turns out he has a caged parrot who mimics Popeye's theme and also smokes a pipe like his mentor. Great, so now the bird has picked up all of Popeye's bad habits.

Popeye leaves the parrot on Olive's doorstep as a surprise gift for her. When Olive opens the door, the parrot sings her a love song. (Well, it's Popeye's version of a love song, which tells you how romantic it is.) Strangely, Olive is as charmed by a bird with bad diction as she is by a one-eyed sailor with the same defect, so she happily takes the bird in.

Bluto happens upon the scene and finds out where the bird came from. The bird has smarts, too -- he literally sees murder in Bluto's eyes. The bird escapes and flies up a tree. Popeye gets wind of Bluto's scheme and orders him to "get that bird," which he sincerely tries to do -- with an axe. (Not only is the bird smart, we find out that he has as much of a gift for muttered ad-libs as Popeye does.)

While Popeye and Bluto resort to their usual Fight Club routine, the borderline-genius bird perches on Olive's roof and becomes a fight announcer. He even beats Popeye to his usual fade-out reprise of the theme song. Frankly, with a bird this resourceful, who needs Popeye?

My rating:

2007, Steve Bailey.

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