I live on an island, on the back of a whale,
It's a whale of an island! (That's not a bad joke.)
Its lord and its master is this handsome bloke.
Whooooo's the most remarkable, extraordinary fellow?!
(Lions Roar) Sindbad, the Sailor!
Possibly the peak of Popeye the Sailor's cartoon career during The Golden Age of Animation, this lavishly animated, full-color, two-reeler 16-minute theatrical cartoon from 1936 brings together a crisply paced plot with impressive action scenes and comedy. Oh, and awesome 3-D backgrounds too (courtesy of Fleischer Studios' trademark "tabletop" technique).
The short starts off with a close-up on the isle of Sindbad the Sailor, and not long after we see the man himself, he begins his epic villain boast song, complete with amazing live-action model set and animation blending, ending with the introduction of Popeye himself, singing his theme song.
Sindbad promptly sends his giant roc to "Wreck that ship!" and kidnap Olive Oyl ("But bring me the woman.") and naturally, Popeye has to travel to Sindbad's Island (along with Wimpy) to save Olive Oyl.
The short was a smash hit when it was released, resulting in two follow-ups being done within the next few years. It was nominated for an Academy Award in 1936, but lost to the now obscure Silly Symphonies short The Country Cousin. Fortunately, this cartoon got a better reward later on — it got selected for preservation in the National Film Registry.
This short was popular enough to recieve a follow-up in 1937, Popeye the Sailor Meets Ali Baba's Forty Thieves.
Tropes Associated With This Short:
- Adaptational Villainy: Sindbad, who goes from the somewhat kindly (if ruthless) man of experience of the stories to an arrogant, kidnapping blowhard.
- Animation Bump: In spades. The animation is noticeably more fluid and detailed this time around, and that's not even taking into the account the lush, rich Technicolor and amazing model set backgrounds.
- Badass Boast: Sindbad's Villain Song is basically a long boast about how strong and remarkable he is. The myriad of beasts that fear him show that he's no Miles Gloriosus.
- The Beast Master: Sindbad has a myriad of fantastic creatures on his island that both respect and fear him, among them: Lions, Leopards, Tigers, Vultures, Snakes, Serpents, Dragons, Ape Men, and even a Roc and a two-headed Giant!
- Black Comedy: Wimpy chasing a duck with a hand-held meat grinder to turn it into hamburger meat. (Don't worry, it gets away. And steals his hamburger).
- Bragging Theme Tune: The short opens with Sindbad's villain song where he boasts about his incredible strength and how he defeated hundreds of beasts.
- Bullet Dancing: Sindbad does this to Olive Oyl by shooting pellets through a straw.
- Cranial Eruption: When Popeye hits one of Boola's heads, the other head gets the lump.
- Curb-Stomp Battle: Popeye doesn't have a chance before eating spinach, at which point Sindbad has no chance.
- Damsel in Distress: Olive Oyl, as usual.
- Deadpan Snarker: The first thing Popeye says after Sindbad's giant bird wrecks his ship? "Oh, that was a nice boat we once had."
- Digital Destruction: The print included on the official Popeye DVD is a very good restoration — save for some truly bizarre color alterations, which pumped up the pink, purple and turquoise on the print! On that note, Sindbad's outfit was originally purple, but is now bright blue in this print!
- Evil Is Hammy: Bluto as Sinbad the Sailor.
- Expy: Sindbad is an expy to Bluto (and Bluto's other expy Brutus).
- Giant Flyer: Sindbad's giant bird, which probably recalls the Roc of the original Sindbad story.
- Hammerspace: Sindbad punches out of Popeye binoculars, several chunks of shipwright equipment (for tying ropes, etc.), a lantern, a pulley, a life preserver, and a boat's steering wheel.
- "I Am" Song: "I'm Popeye the Sailor-man!"
- Instant Roast: Sindbad's roc takes Popeye to a volcano. Popeye returns with a giant roast chicken, "with gravy".
- Isle of Giant Horrors: Sindbad's Turtle Island is full of various monstrous beasts, such as lions, tigers, snakes, apes, and most notably a roc bird and a two-headed humanoid giant.
- Kick the Dog: In Sindbad's case it's more like "Slap The Lion."
- Leitmotif: Wimpy gets one in the short. It's most noticeable when he pops up inside Sindbad's fortress.
- Let's You and Him Fight: Boola's two heads get into an argument as to what to do with Popeye when they're beating him down. They briefly start thrashing one another, tossing Popeye aside to do so. Popeye then chooses to break it up.
- The Load: Wimpy just tags along with Popeye and gets distracted by a local duck that he wants to eat, and then sits on the sidelines after he fails to catch it. He contributes absolutely nothing to helping Popeye rescue Olive.
- Multiple Head Case: The two-headed giant "Boola".
- Nightmare Face: At one point, Sindbad says "boo" while singing and makes an awfully creepy face for a few seconds.
- The Pawns Go First: Sindbad has a couple of his conquered minions take on Popeye first before taking matters into his own hands.
- Public Domain Animation: The short's copyright is expired, so it's not uncommon to see this cartoon show up on dollar store Public Domain cartoon collections.
- Rapid-Fire Nail Biting: Olive bites her nails like a typewriter.
- Roc Birds: Sindbad has a roc bird that he commands to sink Popeye's ship and bring Olive Oyl to him. Later, he commands it to kill Popeye, so the roc takes him to a volcano. Popeye returns with the roc on a giant plate, roasted with gravy.
- Shake Someone, Objects Fall: When Sindbad uses Popeye as a human punching bag, a number of nautical items get shaken loose, such as a lantern, a ship's wheel, and a life presever.
- Shout-Out: Sindbad mentions King Kong when talking about his two-headed ettin slave.Sindbad: He'd frighten King Kong, but he's only my stooge!
- Shown Their Work: The Fleischer brothers and their studio pulled out all stops for this cartoon, and boy howdy, does it show, resulting in much Scenery Porn and all-around Eye Candy in general. The storytelling and pacing also received much attention to detail.
- Something Completely Different: Due to its out-of-nowhere adventure story nature, that feels very different from the usual locales of Popeye's world.
- Standard Snippet: Popeye punches Sindbad right in the eye, and the first half of "Call to Post" cues up.
- There Can Be Only One: The story is set off by Sindbad overhearing Popeye singing his theme song, taking it as a challenge to his title as the greatest sailor in the world.
- This Is a Drill: How Popeye gets through Sindbad's wall, also the twister punch.
- Toothy Bird: The giant bird has fangs in its beak.
- Turtle Island: In the opening song, Sindbad says that his island is "on the back of a whale". However, the whale itself is never shown.
- Unhand Them, Villain!: Subverted. When the roc bird starts flying away with Olive Oyl in hand (or talons), she starts screaming "Let me go!" before quickly switching to "No no no, don't let me go." Clearly, Olive has been brushing up on her TV Tropes.
- Universal-Adaptor Cast: One of the earliest examples of this in a Popeye cartoon. While Popeye, Olive Oyl and Wimpy are themselves, the cartoon is taking place during the days of Sindbad, with Bluto playing the role (as a villain).
- Use Your Head: When Sindbad has Popeye's arms pinned in a grip, Popeye resorts to head-butting Sindbad.
- Villain Song: Sindbad begins the cartoon with an epic song boasting about how powerful and cruel he is.
- Visual Pun: Sindbad squeezes Popeye so hard his face becomes "beet red" (cue Popeye's head turning into a beet)
- Popeye's Balloon Biceps show an electrical power generator during his Spinach-induced power-up.
- Whole Episode Flashback: This short was later remade by Famous Studios in 1952 as "Big Bad Sindbad", which is essentially the same cartoon, only with a Framing Device where Popeye and his nephews go to a museum and encounter a giant statue of Sindbad, prompting Popeye to recount his fateful encounter with the sailor. Once Popeye was done with the story, the nephews chiseled the statue into that of Popeye in his honor. Understandably, a lot of footage from the original cartoon had to be cut to make way for the new material.
- Wind from Beneath My Wings: Sindbad's giant bird can do this.