Tuesday, 23 February 2016

Brotherly Love Backgrounds

I don’t know what’s best about the Popeye cartoon Brotherly Love, Sammy Timberg’s great title song or the urban blight backgrounds that scream Depression-era Lower East Side.

Bent lampposts, broken windows, warped brick walk-ups, boarded up spaces between buildings, uneven cobbled streets, sheets on clotheslines, you can find it all in these mid-‘30s Popeyes. They’re so great, I wish the characters would stay out of the scene. Here are some random shots.

In the distance you can see the harbour with a ship in it.

It’s so unfortunate the background artists in this period never got screen credit at Fleischer’s.

For the record, the lyrics for Olive’s song at the start of the short go:

What we all need is brotherly love.
You can’t go wrong with brotherly love.
Let everybody be
One great big family.
No scrappin’, no yappin’.
How happy we will be!

Now I don’t care whose brother you love
As long as they’re in brotherly love.
Make every Tom and Dick and Otto
Obey our golden motto
‘Cause what we need is brotherly love.


  1. For that matter, in the next to last picture, you can see an old-fashioned "town gas" holder, just to the right of, quite appropriately, the "Gas House Boys" HQ. Those types of structures were nearly always enplaced in the poor areas of town.

  2. The only thing that doesn't fit the depression Lower East Side would be the telephone poles and wires in the final two backgrounds, since they put those underground around the turn of the century after several snowstorms knocked them down. But since you can't bounce a bunch of ruffians, Bluto or anyone else off an underground wire conduit for a gag, I suppose 100 percent historical accuracy wasn't a mandate here.

  3. Sammy Timberg wrote the melody; Bob Rothberg wrote the lyrics. The song was featured in the 1936 "Popeye Song Folio".