Cartoon of the Day: I Wanna Be a Lifeguard

I Wanna Be a Lifeguard
1936
Directed by Dave Fleischer
Available on: Popeye the Sailor Volume 1

One of the most memorable Popeye shorts from my childhood was today’s cartoon, “I Wanna Be a Lifeguard.” It was probably due to its catchy title tune. Many of the Fleischer’s Popeye and Betty Boop cartoons have these stick-in-your-head type of songs. In this cartoon, Popeye and Bluto are battling it out for a lifeguard job which they both decide would be perfect for them after having spied the bathing suit clad Olive Oyl through a peephole in the local pool’s fence.

One thing that grabbed my attention this time around that I never paid attention to as a kid is one innovative shot that could be seen as an early attempt at a 3D like effect. It’s for the brief sequence in which Bluto first swims across the pool. It’s hard to see in a still shot, but many elements are layered in the foreground and background of the shot. As the camera moves across the shot, there is a definite sense of depth that comes across. It’s quite innovative for the time.

As usual, there is very little actual lip synching of dialogue by the characters, but lots of muttered lines from both Bluto and Popeye which are the source of many laughs. It’s a funny short, but be prepared to be singing “I Wanna Be a Lifeguard” for the rest of the week.

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