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Learn Polikeness

Original release date: Feb. 18, 1938

Bluto running a charm school -- isn't that one of the signs of the apocalypse? (Actually, we get a pretty good idea of this school's quality just from its come-on sign: "Prof. Bluteau School of Etiquette For A Little Dough, You Can Be Well Bred.")

Our tour of the place starts with another of those luscious 3D panning shots so beloved by the Fleischers -- but then the atmosphere is ruined (literally -- you can almost smell it) once the shot stops at Bluto, sitting at his desk in a sleeveless T-shirt and toe-less socks, reading a detective magazine, and eating a banana while making those guttural sounds from the Ali Baba cartoon. Time to call the Better Business Bureau!

Into this milieu, Popeye is dragged by Olive Oyl, because any woman who can play a harp with her foot (The Spinach Overture) knows from culture. We know what we're in for when Prof. Bluto invites the couple to "Entrez," and Popeye replies, "Entree? I already et." (Needless to say, this premise is another field day for Popeye's voice-man Jack Mercer, God bless him.)

From here on, its a battle between the snob and the slob, and the slob is temporarily humbled. But naturally, the prof shows his true colors when he gets Olive on a couch and tries to put the make on her. Popeye downs some spinach and politely knocks Bluto around and out of his penthouse suite.

I'll tells ya what's undignified -- sticking this gem of a cartoon between the Popeye career lows of Let's Celebrake and Big Chief Ugh-Amugh-Ugh. Oh, the humanicky!

My rating:

2007, Steve Bailey.

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