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Great movies we can’t believe are turning 40 in 2020

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Popeye — yes, the spinach-chowing, massive forearm-flexing sailor man himself — had all the right pieces for a great film, but in the end, they didn’t quite fit. The 1980 comedy was helmed by one of the great directors of all time, Robert Altman, who gave us such classics as M*A*S*H, McCabe & Mrs. Miller, and The Long Goodbye. The score was written by Harry Nilsson, one of the very best songwriters. And the titular character was played by none other than Robin Williams, one of the greatest actors in Hollywood history. And was there ever any actress more perfect for Olive Oyl than Shelley Duvall? The sum of all this talent should’ve been extraordinary, but somehow, they didn’t quite pull it off.

Maybe it was the tone? Because while Popeye was intended to be a family-friendly musical, it has a decidedly dark undercurrent. To the adult viewer, it’s clear that Popeye — with his muttering speech and social confusion — was likely the victim of psychological and physical trauma at the hands of his long-lost father, for whom he’s searching during the movie. That’s some heady stuff for a family seeking fun at the cinema.

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But the impact of Popeye is easy to explain, as it gave us Robin Williams. Yes, this was Williams’ first foray onto the big screen, and while the movie on a whole didn’t entirely come off, it’s impossible not to get swept up in the lead’s silly charm and even to see an undercurrent of the dramatic power he would one day wield.

intro 1584570431Written by: Looper

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