Thursday 5 November 2020

Roller Coaster of the Mardi Gras

The roller coaster chase and fight in King of the Mardi Gras (1935) may be my favourite sequence in a Popeye cartoon.

This short is so well thought out. The cloudy skies in the background waft to the right as the roller coaster cars zoom along the tracks, adding to the sense of movement. There are imaginative angles including one where the tracks twist. The wooden slats are animated as the cars roll over them, making it appear that the tracks shake. And there’s perfect timing where the tracks intersect and Olive, Bluto and Popeye almost hit each other. You can’t, unfortunately, get any of those effects through a few still frames. Search out for the cartoon and watch it.

There’s also one of those Fleischer background blurs to make the movement seem faster.

The cartoon includes bizarre heads along with the 3-D background effect in the opening scene, a great song sung by Gus Wicke and Jack Mercer, and Sousa’s “The Stars and Stripes Forever,” which the only melody that should accompany a Popeye fight.

Dave Tendlar and Bill Sturm are the credited animators.


  1. Since there were three subway lines connecting 1600 Broadway with Coney Island, you get the feeling the Fleischer staff was very much in their element doing a story set at a pre-Disneyland amusement park, and the studio's love of mechanics also went with coasters like the Cyclone being the most obvious mechanical thing on the Coney Island boardwalk.

  2. One of my favorite Fleischer POPEYE shorts - it's also the first short with Jack Mercer voicing Popeye!

  3. Yes, one of my favorites also. As I have said before on this blog concerning the Fleischer shorts, I love the mumbling between Popeye and Bluto just before a fight when they circle each other. Every now and then you'll hear from Popeye some insult like ; " Oh, your mother wears Army boots ", followed by Bluto's " Ohhhh Yeahhhhh Hummmmmmmm ". Just good stuff.

  4. Despite a much larger budget and advanced technology, the 1990 Roger Rabbit short, Roller Coaster Rabbit, pales in comparison to KOTMG in terms of gags and use of the setting. Proof once again that "It ain't what ya got, it's how ya use it".