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The Paneless Window Washer

Original release date: Jan. 22, 1937

This cartoon takes skyscraper-climbing to heights even Harold Lloyd wouldn't have dreamed up.

It begins with Bluto as a window-washer, albeit in his typically sleazy style. In order to "drum up some business," he uses a hose to spray muddy water onto some windows across the street from his office. Then, his idea of cleaning the windows is to throw some soap on them and then scrape them in an "X" motion, not even removing all of the soap. But then, who has the nerve to question Bluto about his methods?

Well, maybe one person will. Popeye happily cleans the windows in the office of "Olive Oyl, Public Stenographer." (She does her job well, too, considering the carriage of her typewriter nearly flies out the window after each line.) On a ledge far above the city, Popeye happily one-ups Bluto by dancing and shaking his fanny, while he not so much cleans a window as shaves it. Bluto thinks he's hot when he's hanging off a flagpole to reach one window after another, but then Popeye hangs by his suspenders from Olive's window and makes like a human fly all over the building.

Popeye and Bluto get into the inevitable fight, only this time they're bouncing from building to building as they do it. Bluto tries to literally hang Popeye out to dry (from a flagpole), until Popeye makes with the spinach (because he hadn't been able to bounce around 20 stories of building very well before that).

This short is just breathtaking, with perspectives amazing enough that you have to pinch yourself to realize you're just watching a cartoon. And you keep wondering what further heights Popeye and Bluto will set their sights on just to show how macho they are.

My rating:

2007, Steve Bailey.

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