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Popeye

Year: 1980
Studio: Disney
Director: Robert Altman
Cast: Robin Williams, Shelley Duvall, Linda Hunt
There are two exceptional things about this movie; one, that arthouse auteur Robert Altman was once at the stage of directing a big studio movie; and that it foreshadowed a trend whose potential wouldn't be realised for another ten years (which is even now, 20 years on, still being plugged to death). Before Charlie's Angels, Spiderman, The Addams Family, The Avengers, Scooby Doo or a million other big-scale studio system films of old TV shows or cartoons (even before Batman, which kicked off the phenomenon of the old-idea-with-little-new-creative-input-as-mass-merchandising-machine), there was Popeye.

It follows the same formula adopted in later times to the letter; the background story, introducing the character to us as he was before he became the familiar hero we all know and love. In this case, the sailor man (Williams) hates spinach, loves Olive Oyl (Duvall, tailor made for the part), is constantly fighting Brutus for affection and being harassed for his soup burgers by Wimpy. The plot, lost in memory, is incendiary.

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