|Lumberjack and Jill|
Hot Air Aces
Lumberjack and Jill is Popeye's 162nd cartoon, released by Famous Studios on May 29, 1949. It features Popeye as the protagonist, Bluto as the antagonist, Olive Oyl as the love interest, and a cantankerous beaver as a bit player. While it shares the northwoods logging theme of the 1934 Fleischer cartoon Axe Me Another, it can in no way be seen as a remake of that cartoon, with its love triangle theme differing entirely from the earlier cartoon's lumberman's challenge contest.
The cartoon gets underway with an establishing shot of the "Popeye and Bluto Lumber Camp," with a sign prominently posted on the front entry that reads "Cook Wanted." The shot pans out to show us the two male leads at work felling an immense fir tree. Popeye has industriously wielded his axe to open a sizable cut, while Bluto, on the opposite side, has expended all his effort in whittling an image of a pretty lady with a lascivious look in his eye (a scene reminiscent of Pre-Hysterical Man). In discussing the imminent arrival of the new cook, Popeye declares, "I'm woikin' up an appy-tite!" Bluto responds, more than a little suggestively, "Yeah--So am I!"
The scene shifts to Olive Oyl paddling her freight-laden canoe up to the camp's dock. Popeye drops his tool and speeds off to assist her arrival. Bluto, left momentarily in the lurch, tosses both axes to pin Popeye by the neck to the bole of a tree while he moves in on the woman he addresses as "Cookie." As in other cartoons of the period such as The Island Fling and Mister and Mistletoe, Bluto begins giving the oblivious Popeye tasks to perform to get him out of the way while he makes his moves on Olive. After meekly obliging for a time, Popeye gets into an altercation with his larger rival and Olive is forced to intercede (footage that was later re-inked and incorporated into Beach Peach). She dissipates the tense situation by asking the two combatants to secure her some firewood.
In a somewhat predictable scenario, Popeye outperforms Bluto and is the first to deliver the requested load of wood. Bluto, as always a sore loser, pours the contents of a can of gasoline down the stovepipe, causing it to explode when Olive ignites it with a match. Olive blames Popeye for the debacle and accepts Bluto's offer to show her around the camp.
A new scene opens with a canoe on a mountain lake, and Bluto serenading Olive with "Love In Bloom" while accompanying himself on a steel saw (artwork that was to be re-inked and utilized in Vacation with Play). An irate beaver takes issue with Bluto's musical performance and severs the canoe in half with his teeth. Olive's portion of the craft becomes caught in a current and she is soon in imminent danger of being hurled over a waterfall. Both men pole logs in an effort to rescue her from certain doom. Following a tug-of-war, they succeed jointly, only to catapult her to new danger at the top of a lofty tree. This time it is Bluto who outperforms Popeye, and just as he is about to kiss Olive Popeye is re-catapulted into her place and receives the kiss instead.
Olive, meanwhile, is flung onto a log flume while the two men battle it out. We are shown the death-dealing circular saw blade that awaits her at the end of her descent. But despite the grave and imminent threat to Olive, the men continue to joust over just who is to have the privilege of effecting a rescue. Bluto uses his immense strength to employ a tree trunk as a sledgehammer and pounds Popeye's body right through the deck of the flume. In a scene lifted almost verbatim from the roller-coaster entrapment sequence in King of the Mardi Gras, Popeye manages to devour his spinach, and then dispatches Bluto and snatches Olive from the jaws of death in the nick of time.
In the final scene, Olive is back in the kitchen, and presents the victorious Popeye with a basket filled with her home-made biscuits. The famished logger attempts to take a bite, only to have all his teeth shatter and fall out of his gums, suggesting that Olive lacks culinary skills.