‘Nix on Hypnotricks’ — Popeye the Sailor

[http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0033956/]

[youtube V6zU89mOzqA]

Description: Sinister hypnotist Professor I. Stare (Hypnotist "10¢ a Trance") is practicing his hypnotism on a goldfish but the goldfish isn't cooperating. Instead, he fumes, he wants a human subject. Going to the phone book, he picks a name at random and dials Olive Oyl, whom he entrances with a gesture (and lighting bolts coming out of his fingers through the telephone toward Olive) and gives her a simple command: "Come to me!" Entranced, Olive marches out, arms outstretched like a sleepwalker, and narrowly avoids any number of dangers on the way and has to be continuously rescued by Popeye. Finally frustrated with all of the obstacles he faced, Popeye pulls out his can of spinach and transforms into Super-Popeye (complete with "S" from the spinach can on his chest) and puts an end to the sinister hypnotist's plot, but at the expense of Olive's anger: once she is awakened from her trance, she has no memory of what happened, knowing only that Popeye slapped her. The beating he takes from an indignant Olive is worse than anything he ever takes from his old enemy Bluto, especially because he refuses to defend himself.

History: 'Nix on Hypnotricks' was the 101st Popeye cartoon released by Fleischer Studios. It came at a time of growing dissent between the Fleischer brothers and the Fleischer Studios was bought by Paramount Studios. All of the Fleischer Popeye cartoons have been released through Warner Home Video's Popeye the Sailor DVD box set series: this episode can be found on Popeye the Sailor: 1941-1943, Volume 3.

Commentary: This cartoon was one of my very first examples of hypnosis in the media that I can remember. The image of Olive, entranced and sleepwalking, stayed with me for decades and I only recently discovered a copy on YouTube. It is a very stereotypical view of hypnosis, not surprising given that it was released in 1941. You have the stereotypical swami (turban, mustache and pointy beard) using hypnotic gestures and lightning bolts from his hands that hypnotize, the blank stare of his hypnotized victim who proceeds to walk in the hypnotized / sleepwalker pose with her arms firmly outstretched before her: all it needs is a few "Yes, master"s thrown in to have the complete set.

Trivia:

  • This was the second Popeye cartoon involving hypnosis: the first was the 1935 cartoon 'The Hyp-Nut-Tist' with Bluto as a smarmy swami stage hypnotist. This B&W episode would be remade in color as 'The Balmy Swami'.
  • The Superman motif is because the Fleischer Studios were also producing the excellent "Superman" cartoons at the same time.

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