Tuesday, 28 August 2012

Olive Oyl Cuspidor Dance

Does any cartoon character get twisted and turned more than Olive Oyl? The Fleischer animators loved to bend and stretch her pipe-cleaner dimension arms and legs every which way, and a great example is in “Blow Me Down” (1933).

Olive is dancing in a cantina, with her big flat feet flying around as she slides on the floor (the background moves left to right). Then she gets cuspidors stuck on both her feet and tries to dance them off. She grows an extra leg (and cuspidor) in some of the drawings in the process.

Finally, she cartwheels, splits her legs and lands on her butt, still pissed off.

Finally, she makes a long-legged, triumphant leap off camera, even though she hasn’t triumphed at all. The cuspidors are still there.

They sure loved doing things in time to the music at Fleischer. Popeye stomps down the street to the beat. People in the cantina bob in unison to the beat. And Olive, of course, is landing her feet, butt and whatever on the floor to the beat.
Willard Bowsky and Bill Sturm get the animation credits here.


  1. If you can get your hands on the Turner colorized version of this short, go take a peek at it. To save money in the colorization process, they skipped something like every other frame and held the remaining ones twice as long, so this dance is particular looks like she's barely moving at all. It's just morbidly fascinating.

  2. As early in the game as this one is -- Bowsky's first turn with the characters -- his unit was apparently more confident on animating humans than the Kneitel unit was, since that unit tended to mix 'n match Popeye, Olive and Bluto with funny animals, a la the Betty Boop series. Shamus Culhane also said Willard was the studio's head animator most into music, so it kind of fits in with Olive's dance here and Popeye and the bad guys bouncing to the beat as he and them prepare to fight at the cantina door.

  3. Don't get me started on the wonderful Fleischer Popeye cartoons. Oh, all right, get me started...

  4. Oh, man, Joe, I saw part of a colourised one the other day. It had a dusty rose window sill. Completely ruined it. The grey tones in the backgrounds create an atmosphere.