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4.7 11
Director: Robert Altman, Robin Williams, Shelley Duvall, Ray Walston

Cast: Robert Altman, Robin Williams, Shelley Duvall, Ray Walston


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Based on the long-running comic strip created by E.C. Segar (and less on the animated cartoons created by Max Fleischer, which were decidedly different in tone and approach), Popeye follows the sailor man with the mighty arms (played by Robin Williams in his first major film role) as he arrives in the seaside community of Sweethaven in search of his long-lost


Based on the long-running comic strip created by E.C. Segar (and less on the animated cartoons created by Max Fleischer, which were decidedly different in tone and approach), Popeye follows the sailor man with the mighty arms (played by Robin Williams in his first major film role) as he arrives in the seaside community of Sweethaven in search of his long-lost father. Popeye meets and quickly falls for the slender Olive Oyl (Shelley Duvall, in the role she was born to play), but Olive's hand has already been promised to the hulking Bluto (Paul Smith), of whom Olive can say little except, well, he's large. Eventually, Popeye and Olive are brought together by Swee' Pea (Wesley Ivan Hurt), an adorable foundling, and Popeye finally meets his dad, Poopdeck Pappy (Ray Walston). Director Robert Altman in no way tempered his trademark style for this big-budget family opus, crowding the screen with a variety of characters and allowing his cast to overlap as much dialogue as they want.

Editorial Reviews

Barnes & Noble - Donald Liebenson
Maverick director Robert Altman’s career has been a succession of hits and misses, and this 1980 musical was, according to critics, a Bluto-sized miss. Entrusted with a big-budget family film based on a beloved cartoon character, Altman chose not to compromise his style, retaining the signature overlapping dialogue and all the rest. Twenty-plus years later, on DVD -- blow me down -- there is much to recommend. This was a pioneering attempt to adapt a comic strip and cartoon universe to live-action. The seaside town of Sweethaven is a marvel of production design, and in the Altman canon, it is as cockeyed a community as the 4077th in M*A*S*H or the Presbyterian Church in McCabe & Mrs. Miller, filled with memorably quirky characters. In his first film, Robin Williams keeps his gag reflex in check as Popeye, who is searching for "me poppa," who abandoned him. The sailor man's mumbled asides are perfectly attuned to Williams' s improvisational style. And who else but Shelley Duvall could play Olive Oyl, who is engaged to the bully Bluto? As Wimpy, who would gladly pay you Tuesday for a hamburger today, Paul Dooley's performance is a deluxe with cheese, and Wesley Ivan Hurt's Swee'pea, an infant Popeye takes under his wing, is an adorable film tyke without peer. Jules Feiffer's script could use some spinach, but Harry Nilsson's songs charm in a typically Nilsson fashion. (It's worth noting that Paul Thomas Anderson put Duvall's "He Needs Me" to endearingly quirky use in Punch-Drunk Love.) This wide-screen DVD presentation is leaps and bounds ahead of the confused VHS pan-and-scan version and will invite many critics to reconsider this quirky gem.
All Movie Guide - Michael Hastings
Plagued by production troubles and reviled by critics upon its release, director Robert Altman's comic-book fantasy has nonetheless survived -- after years of video rentals and afternoon TV airings -- as a witty alternative to the average, oversimplified Disney pabulum. The casting certainly wasn't a problem: Robin Williams, replete with prosthetic forearms and a squinty left eye, makes for a perfectly mannered Popeye; and spaced-out beanpole Shelley Duvall may very well have been put on this earth to play the spaced-out beanpole Olive Oyl. Altman envisioned the cartoon's town of Sweethaven as a bustling, grungy burg not unlike the frontier town of McCabe and Mrs. Miller (1971); but where critics praised McCabe's overlapping dialogue and dark, detailed production design, they found the same techniques completely anachronistic to the ostensibly sunny cartoon world of Popeye and Bluto. Still, there's enough levity in the script to keep things afloat, and the Harry Nilsson/Van Dyke Parks songs are a delight, although their ironic humor may be lost on the very young. Like a Where's Waldo search book, Popeye is indeed cluttered and overstuffed -- but these very qualities keep tykes coming back for repeat viewings, to see or hear something they might have missed the first time.

Product Details

Release Date:
Original Release:
Paramount Catalog
Region Code:

Special Features

Closed Caption

Cast & Crew

Performance Credits
Robin Williams Popeye
Shelley Duvall Olive Oyl
Ray Walston Poopdeck Pappy
Paul Smith Bluto
Paul Dooley Wimpy
Linda Hunt Mrs. Oxheart
Richard Libertini Geezil
Donald Moffat Taxman
MacIntyre Dixon Cole Oyl
Roberta Maxwell Nana Oyl
Donovan Scott Castor Oyl
Allan Nicholls Rough House
Wesley Ivan Hurt Swee' Pea
David Arkin The Mailman/Policeman
Margery Bond Daisy
Peter Bray Oxblood Oxheart, the Fighter
Carlos Brown Slug
Hovey Burgess Mort
Allison Caine Additional Voice
Michael Christensen Actor
Ray Cooper Preacher
Ned Dowd Butch
Robert Fortier Bill Barnacle, town drunk
Dennis Franz Spike
Geoff Hoyle Scoop
William Irwin Ham Gravy
Julie Janney Mena
Susan Kingsley LaVerne
Sharon Kinney Cherry, His Moll
David McCharen Harry Hotcash, gambler
Roberto Messina Gozo
Noel Parenti Slick
Van Dyke Parks Hoagy
Wayne Robson Chizzelflint
Pietro Torrisi Bolo
Paul Zegler Mayor Stonefeller

Technical Credits
Robert Altman Director
Hovey Burgess Choreography
Scott Bushnell Costumes/Costume Designer,Producer
C.O. Erickson Executive Producer
Robert Evans Producer
Jules Feiffer Screenwriter
Raja Gosnell Editor
Robert Gravenor Sound/Sound Designer
John W. Holmes Editor
Sharon Kinney Choreography
Wolf Kroeger Production Designer
Tony Lombardo Editor
Harry Nilsson Score Composer,Songwriter
Van Dyke Parks Score Composer
Giuseppe Rotunno Cinematographer
David Simmons Editor
Jack Stephens Set Decoration/Design
Lou Wills Choreography

Scene Index

Disc #1 -- Popeye
1. Chapter 1
2. Chapter 2
3. Chapter 3
4. Chapter 4
5. Chapter 5
6. Chapter 6
7. Chapter 7
8. Chapter 8
9. Chapter 9
10. Chapter 10
11. Chapter 11
12. Chapter 12


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Popeye 4.7 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 11 reviews.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I enjoy watching this film when it comes my way. Robin Williams probably won't be remembered for his role as Popeye yet he turns in a fine performance. Bringing to life an animated character, he gives us a terrific performance in the title role. He is completely convincing even with his big realistic brawny forearms, trademark of his character. Mr. Williams ironically takes a subtle approach on his characterization of Popeye, relying less on his all out persona and focusing instead in the parental sweetness of his character when dealing with his new found son Sweet Pea and in relating romantically with Olive Oyl. Which leads us to talk about Shelley Duvall as Olive Oyl. Basically she was born to have this role. Duvall brings the perfect blend of goofiness and even dignity to the role. When on screen is very hard not to take away your eyes from her. One of the highlights of the film is when she sings all by herself on a moonlit pier the silly ditty “He Needs Me” and the movie soars with a whimsical understated charm that is both memorable and wonderful. The movie also accomplishes wonderful nutty moments and does an amazing job of capturing the spirit of a live action cartoon without thankfully the need of any CGI effects. Much credit should be given to the work of Wolf Kroeger, the production designer, who has come up with a spectacular physical universe. His Sweethaven set, built on location on the island of Malta consists of a detailed and atmospheric fishing village where streets run at crazy angles and all the buildings lean together dangerously on the coast side. The music score by the late Harry Nilsson is weaved in into the plot without appearing forced and although there are no obvious show stoppers there are a few clever melodies, most memorable the already mentioned “He Needs Me”, “Food, Food, Food” and the opening anthem “Sweet haven” in which a gloomy sarcasm must be noted. Popeye is a mix bag of wacky elements that suffers from some uneven pacing but at times it is gloriously weird, visually spectacular and brimming with intelligence. I recommend it to those who enjoy unpredictable and unusual entertainment that’s not neatly package in a square box. To me that kind of packaging sometimes have the best surprises.
Guest More than 1 year ago
i grew up watching popeye cartoons on tv. this movie matches better than i would have believed possible the flavor of the cartoon, only better. i love the set and costumes and color of the movie, i love the songs and the singing (i can't imagine olive oyl sounding any different) and the mood of the film. the behavior and speech and mood of the characters couldn't be more like what i imagined as a kid watching the cartoons, only better.
Guest More than 1 year ago
This film represents a clear and well-executed vision. It interprets the original comic strip for a subsequent generation, extending the ''eat your spinach'' theme toward a deeper exploration of family relationships. Critics who disliked this film are the ones who judge a book by its cover. You'll laugh. You'll cry. You'll wonder how a film this beautiful gets lost in the shuffle. Kids will enjoy it, too.
Guest More than 1 year ago
An outstanding movie with entertainment for the entire family. Robin Williams and Shelly Duvall are at their best in this film. Some of the best acting seen in years. Wish they still made movies that were TRUE ENTERTAINMENT and not just a lot of hype, violence and sex!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Guest More than 1 year ago
it's pretty funny. if you like baz luhrman movies (moulin rouge, romeo&juliet and strictly ballroom) or any other strangely-funny movie with music, then you'll probably like this. i thought it was entertaining. but what am i?
Guest More than 1 year ago
I loved this movie, everytime I see it I can see something different in it...I want to know when Paramont is going to zip this movie to dts and put it on dvd?
Guest More than 1 year ago
This is one of many movies that takes me back to my early teenage years. They could not have picked a better character to play Popeye than Robin Williams. One question though... When is the DVD coming out????
Guest More than 1 year ago
This is Robin Williams' greatest role. (No kidding.) Popeye is a character who mutters asides all the time. I'm sure Williams adlibed the whole thing. The movie accurately captures Popeye as a cartoon character being brought to life. Movie contains such unforgettable concepts as an ''exact change'' tax collector.
Guest More than 1 year ago
This flick is HILARIOUS!!! You can't take it seriously (but then, who would take Popeye seriously?) I think this is way too underrated.