6 June 2015 | TheLittleSongbird
Not quite spooktacular, but still enormous fun
Whether it is one of Popeye's best or overall classics I am not sure. However for a late Popeye cartoon and especially for a late Famous Studios cartoon(the 50s was a hit and miss period for them where their cartoons were getting repetitive and their budgets getting noticeably smaller) Fright to the Finish is still surprisingly good.
The story, for a Popeye cartoon and for cartoons in general, is pretty standard and ordinary stuff and it does get a little predictable, as funny as the vanishing cream gag is it has been done many times before and much more imaginatively. Thankfully though it does not fall into the trap of getting too repetitive, which was a major problem with some of Famous Studios' output, such as with some of the Herman and Katnip cartoons.
Fright to the Finish's animation is very good however. It's lush and colourful and everything looks smooth and detailed. Some of Famous Studios' late output had rushed-looking animation, but not in Fright to the Finish. The music of Winston Sharples was always one of the best things about the Herman and Katnip cartoons, and it continues to be one of the best things here. So outstanding it is in fact that it gets my vote as the component that makes the cartoon, it is so lively and characterful in rhythm and who can't help love the rich, vibrant orchestration that adds so much to the gags.
Speaking of the gags, they are slapstick in nature and revolve around Popeye and Bluto trying to convince Olive Oyl that the other is the one scaring her. The good news is that the gags are very well-timed and most importantly they are also very funny indeed. Hard to pick a favourite as they are about equal in how effective they are. Fright to the Finish even manages to evoke a spooky atmosphere without being too much, which was wholly appropriate for a Halloween cartoon. The three main characters do a great job carrying the cartoon, with some interesting touches like not showing Popeye eating spinach and making Bluto funnier than usual. Olive Oyl is a good charming character where you can totally see what Popeye sees in her, but it's the entertaining interplay between Popeye and Bluto that really sparkles. Jack Mercer, Mae Questel and Jackson Beck give great vocal characterisations.
In summary, enormous fun if not quite spooktacular. 8/10 Bethany Cox