The Dissolve

A playground for movie lovers

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“But the embodiment of all that is good about Popeye is [Shelley] Duvall’s Olive Oyl, who only needs the big shoes and the ornate headdress to look exactly how E.C. Segar imagined her in 1919. Tall, thin, and angular, with saucer eyes, full lips, jet-black hair, and a distinctly breathy tone of voice, Duvall was a symbol of the rebel 1970s in that she didn’t fall within the narrow spectrum of what a movie-star should look or sound like. As many have said, she was “born” to play Olive Oyl, but it’s a real performance, too, flighty and distracted, yet sweet to the core, with perfect little “oooooo” sounds whenever there’s trouble (she’s like a Marge Simpson precursor) and a moony romanticism that carries the spirit of the whole production. Her rendition of Harry Nilsson’s “He Needs Me” resurfaced to great effect in Paul Thomas Anderson’s Punch-Drunk Love—which owes much of its intoxicating mixture of violence, discord, and innocence to Altman’s film—but it stands on its own for its abrasive sweetness.”

In this month’s Departures, Scott Tobias offers a re-evaluation of the much-maligned Popeye, a big-budget, family-friendly musical adaptation that somehow fits snugly into director Robert Altman’s career. [Read more…]

“But the embodiment of all that is good about Popeye is [Shelley] Duvall’s Olive Oyl, who only needs the big shoes and the ornate headdress to look exactly how E.C. Segar imagined her in 1919. Tall, thin, and angular, with saucer eyes, full lips, jet-black hair, and a distinctly breathy tone of voice, Duvall was a symbol of the rebel 1970s in that she didn’t fall within the narrow spectrum of what a movie-star should look or sound like. As many have said, she was “born” to play Olive Oyl, but it’s a real performance, too, flighty and distracted, yet sweet to the core, with perfect little “oooooo” sounds whenever there’s trouble (she’s like a Marge Simpson precursor) and a moony romanticism that carries the spirit of the whole production. Her rendition of Harry Nilsson’s “He Needs Me” resurfaced to great effect in Paul Thomas Anderson’s Punch-Drunk Love—which owes much of its intoxicating mixture of violence, discord, and innocence to Altman’s film—but it stands on its own for its abrasive sweetness.”

In this month’s Departures, Scott Tobias offers a re-evaluation of the much-maligned Popeye, a big-budget, family-friendly musical adaptation that somehow fits snugly into director Robert Altman’s career. [Read more…]

Filed under film robert altman Popeye shelley duvall olive oyl Robin Williams harry nilsson

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