Hidden Message in 1952 Popeye cartoon

Here’s one for the hard-core cartoon historians: Recently, Brew reader Neil was replaying an old Paramount Popeye cartoon, and made a surprising audio find. On the soundtrack of Shuteye Popeye (1952), when the mouse’s audio is slowed down to about 40%, it’s clear that the track is actually a vocal outtake (perhaps director Isadore Sparber, or I suspect Seymour Kneitel) protesting that he doesn’t know what to say. Have a listen for yourself:


  • Doz Hewson

    “That’s just….raw!”

  • http://pittsburghartistregistry.org/jeffreymcandrew Jeffrey T. McAndrew

    What an amazing find. There have been hundreds of cartoons made that contain this unintelligable squeaky voiced rodent. I wonder how many of them contain hidden messages.

  • Professor Widebottom

    I’m glad that there are hard-core historians with the wherewithal to provide a public service such as this. Not only does the voice come across amazingly clear, the music bed also transforms into a noir-ish brooding masterpiece.

  • Charlie

    That’s really cool

  • Tom Heres

    I love that! How cool is that?

    I’d love to hear some more of the squirrels, mice and rabbits we’ve seen in other cartoons slowed down for comprehension. This is very entertaining.

  • uncle wayne

    That is truly an !!!!! I am glad that….”playing it backwards”…won’t deem it “Satanic!” “Herman’s Cousin Goes to Hell!” I luv it!

  • Adam

    Interesting discovery!

  • http://smarterthantheaverage.tumblr.com/ Jonathan Sloman

    Absolutely amazing. I recall Rolf Harris doing a similar thing on his early 1990s TV show Rolf’s Cartoon Club with the first Chip and Dale cartoon.

  • Chris Sobieniak

    That’s one pi__ed-off mouse! ^_^

    Thanks Neil for the heads up on something I probably should’ve done long ago!

  • Katella Gate

    Putting a Full-Blown curse in a kid’s cartoon and the putting it out for the public risked being kicked out of the industry, but the thrill of doing school boy prank like this obviously outweighed the risks… Plus, it really quite safe. It would be 60 years before copies of these films could be bought as personal property, and technology permitted the easy decompression of the audio by non-specialists, and the world had enough free time on its hands to actually slow it down and listen.

    Lucky for everybody it was “only” blasphemous. If it had been racial insult, well, some cows are holier than others I guess.

  • Strawstickbricks

    If slowing down a Famous cartoon yields even one such “noir-ish brooding masterpiece” a little more research should transform enough mediocrity into high art to fill a DVD boxed set. Add a few new scenes of mice running up peoples’ assholes, and it could even run on Adult Swim.

  • Anthrocoon

    Interesting! Speaking of backwards messages (see post above) the J. Geils Band had one of a Martian or something in “No Anchovies Please”. When you spun it backwards the message was “It doesn’t take a genius to know the difference between chicken s–t and chicken salad.”…The Rhino album of Beatles-related novelty songs had one called Beatles Rap, IIRC, and there was a backwards message at the end. When spun backwards: “It’s really us, you know.”

  • http://www.cementimental.com Tim Drage

    Lucky for everybody it was “only” blasphemous. If it had been racial insult, well, some cows are holier than others I guess.
    How come I can’t read ANY internet discussion on ANY subject at the moment without it decending into euphamistic “maybe LIBERALS/BLACKS are the REAL racists EH??” rhetorical questions?

  • Jenny

    Katella: I doubt this was done as a “prank”, and it was safe, alright–it was a total non-concern for anyone working on this cartoon.

    Remember these films were meant to be shown around the country for a couple of weeks at most, then withdrawn. Even in 1952 no one was thinking about television reruns, and even if they had been NO one had any ideas of digitally-manipulatable copies and anyone out there slowing them down to hear any “hidden messages.

    It’s just some guys recording wild dialogue(“wild”” meaning random) to get something to use for the mouse. Any profanity spoken was just plain old everyday speech for that guy, not a sneaky plant or in-joke.

    Along the same lines are those slow-downs someone did not long ago of “Rabbit’s Kin”(Jaime Weinman I believe), the Bugs Bunny cartoon with the little brown rabbit babbling on about Pete Puma. If anyone remembers, Mel Blanc really did perform the exact dialogue that the rabbit was “supposed” to be saying although speeding it up made him totally unintelligible as planned and he might as well have been reciting the Gettysburg address. It was a nice touch, for them to bother with getting it authentic.
    But this is fun to listen to.

  • vzk

    Famous Studio’s Popeye cartoons, as bland as they were, at least were a thousand times more watchable than all the made-for-tv crap King Features did with those characters from the 60s onward.

  • http://www.keithlango.com keith lango

    this entire thing reminds me of an old Styx song.

  • http://rwentworth.blogspot.com Richard Wentworth

    Super cool! Glad it didn’t say “Wimpy is dead”!

  • Roger Kulp

    This voice sounds like one that I heard a lot in 1960s TV cartoons.I can’t believe nobody has identified it yet.

  • Mike Fontanelli

    S’funny, I thought I heard:
    “I buried Paul (Frees.)”

  • Joe Torcivia

    Now, you’ve assured that this will never be released on DVD!

    Gosh darn your blankety-blank hides!

    Oh, wait… It’s Warners! We’re not getting anything from them this year, anyway!

  • http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IytV4Z9oBJA Doug

    Check out this one from the Electirc Company, it’s even stranger!

    Youtube : “The Electric Company – What? (backwards message)”

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IytV4Z9oBJA

  • Mesterius

    Yep, this is hardcore all right…

    …I love it! :D

  • OM

    …It’s time, Jerry/Amid. We need a Canonical List of Secret Messages in Cartoons. Whether reverse speech or sped up, if it’s hidden, we need it listed!

    (Remembers the day when someone would suggest such a list on usenet, and a thousand people would jump up and pitch in, while at least one egotistical net.god would claim he did it first but didn’t want to share the info…)

  • Nancy Beiman

    Director Dave Bennett slowed down one of Clarence “Ducky” Nash’s tracks once when we were animating some EPCOT films….and he told me Ducky’s mumbling was one long string of cuss words!

  • Rikkee

    Was Olive Oil a single Mom?