My review of Popeye(1980) starring Robin Williams, Shelley Duvall, Ray Walston, Paul Dooley, Paul L. Smith, Richard Libertini, Donald Moffat, and MacIntyre Dixon. Directed by Robert Altman.
The set for the town of Sweet Haven was built at Anchor Bay on the Mediterranean island of Malta. After filming, it became a popular tourist attraction.
The makeup appliances for Robin Williams' fake forearms were not ready when filming began, so in early shots, Popeye wears a long-sleeved raincoat to hide his normal-sized arms.
Many of the citizens of Sweet Haven, especially those who had to do some physical gags, were recruited from European circuses.
The parts of Popeye and Olive Oyl were originally intended for Dustin Hoffman and Gilda Radner. Hoffman left over a disagreement in the hiring of Jules Feiffer as the scriptwriter and, although Radner was the preferred choice of the studio, Robert Altman held out for Shelley Duvall.
While it may seem odd to most viewers that the movie's portrayal of Popeye does not like spinach, this was also a theme used in the original comic strip by E.C. Segar. Popeye originally boosted his strength by rubbing the hairs on the head of a Whiffle Hen when he first began appearing in Segar's "Thimble Theatre" in 1929. The consumption of spinach to explain Popeye's strength was introduced in the early 1930s, and was only infrequently referenced until it became a staple of the animated shorts produced by Fleischer Studios and Paramount Pictures starting in 1933.
Most of Robin Williams's muttered Popeye voice was discovered to be inaudible once filming wrapped, and he had to re-dub much of the dialogue.
Robin Williams's film debut.
Linda Hunt's film debut.
Mike Nichols, Arthur Penn, and Hal Ashby were each originally slated to direct this movie.
The many sunken ships in the harbor were actually seaworthy vessels that were rented or bought and then sunk.
In a print interview released around the same time as the film, Shelley Duvall admitted that kids used to call her Olive Oyl when she was in grade school.
Shelley Duvall sang all of her own songs.
Harry Nilsson took a break in the middle of production of his album "Flash Harry" to create the music for this movie. He wrote all of the original songs and co-produced the music with producer Bruce Robb at Cherokee Studios.
A joint production between Paramount Pictures and Walt Disney Productions, the former released the film in the USA, and the latter had overseas distribution.
At one point, Lily Tomlin was signed to play Olive Oyl before the film went back into a lengthy development period.
An international construction crew of 165 worked seven months to construct the set. Tree trunk logs were driven across the European continent from the Netherlands, and wood shingles were imported all the way from Canada. Eight tons (7,257 kilograms) of nails and 2,000 gallons (7,571 liters) of paint were used to complete the set. When they finished, the fictional village of Sweet Haven consisted of 19 buildings, including a hotel, a schoolhouse, a store, a post office, a church, and a tavern.
Everyone tried to dissuade Robert Altman from working with Harry Nilsson, saying that he would be constantly drunk. Only Robin Williams supported him in this decision. As it turned out, Altman found Nilsson to be delightful to work with.
Harry Nilsson took his musicians to the island of Malta where they had a purpose-built studio constructed for them.
Swee' Pea is played by Wesley Ivan Hurt - Robert Altman's grandson.
A 200-250 foot breakwater also had to be constructed at the mouth of the harbor to prevent the set from getting flooded during high seas.
During filming of the scene at the end where Ray Walston throws Robin Williams the can of spinach, Ray hit Robin in the head so hard that he required several stitches in his scalp. This delayed filming for several weeks.
Last film of Jack Mercer.
Jules Feiffer's script originally included Popeye's magical pet Eugene the Jeep. Though the Jeep was ultimately left out, Feiffer gave some of its magical characteristics to Swee' Pea, hence the baby's apparent clairvoyance.