201 user 68 critic

Popeye (1980)

The adventures of the famous sailor man and his friends in the seaside town of Sweethaven.


Robert Altman


Jules Feiffer (screenplay), E.C. Segar (based on characters by)
2,408 ( 425)
3 wins & 4 nominations. See more awards »





Cast overview, first billed only:
Robin Williams ... Popeye
Shelley Duvall ... Olive Oyl
Ray Walston ... Poopdeck Pappy
Paul Dooley ... Wimpy
Paul L. Smith ... Bluto
Richard Libertini ... Geezil
Donald Moffat ... The Taxman
MacIntyre Dixon MacIntyre Dixon ... Cole Oyl
Roberta Maxwell ... Nana Oyl
Donovan Scott ... Castor Oyl
Allan F. Nicholls ... Rough House (as Allan Nicholls)
Wesley Ivan Hurt ... Swee'pea
Bill Irwin ... Ham Gravy, the Old Boyfriend
Robert Fortier Robert Fortier ... Bill Barnacle, the Town Drunk
David McCharen David McCharen ... Harry Hotcash, the Gambler
Learn more

More Like This 

Toys (1992)
Adventure | Comedy | Drama
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 5.1/10 X  

When Lieutenant General Leland Zevo (Sir Michael Gambon) inherits a toymaking company and begins making war toys, his employees band together to stop him before he ruins the name of Zevo Toys forever.

Director: Barry Levinson
Stars: Robin Williams, Michael Gambon, Joan Cusack
Mork & Mindy (1978–1982)
Comedy | Family | Sci-Fi
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.1/10 X  

A wacky alien comes to Earth to study its residents and the life of the human woman he boards with is never the same.

Stars: Robin Williams, Pam Dawber, Ralph James
Adventure | Comedy | Family
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.6/10 X  

Kermit and his newfound friends trek across America to find success in Hollywood, but a frog legs merchant is after Kermit.

Director: James Frawley
Stars: Jim Henson, Frank Oz, Jerry Nelson
Popeye the Sailor (1960–1962)
Animation | Comedy | Family
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.1/10 X  

The continuing animated adventures of Olive Oyl, Wimpy, Swee'pea and Popeye.

Stars: Jack Mercer, Mae Questel, Jackson Beck
Flubber (1997)
Comedy | Family | Sci-Fi
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 5.3/10 X  

An absent-minded professor discovers "flubber," a rubber-like super-bouncy substance.

Director: Les Mayfield
Stars: Robin Williams, Marcia Gay Harden, Christopher McDonald
Annie (1982)
Comedy | Drama | Family
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.6/10 X  

A young orphan girl's adventures in finding a family that will take her.

Director: John Huston
Stars: Aileen Quinn, Albert Finney, Carol Burnett
Adventure | Comedy | Family
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7/10 X  

When eccentric man-child Pee-wee Herman gets his beloved bike stolen in broad daylight, he sets out across the U.S. on the adventure of his life.

Director: Tim Burton
Stars: Paul Reubens, Elizabeth Daily, Mark Holton
Pete's Dragon (1977)
Animation | Adventure | Comedy
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.4/10 X  

An orphan boy and his magical dragon come to town with his abusive adoptive parents in pursuit.

Directors: Don Chaffey, Don Bluth
Stars: Sean Marshall, Helen Reddy, Jim Dale
Faerie Tale Theatre (1982–1987)
Adventure | Comedy | Family
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8.4/10 X  

A miscellany of numerous classic fairy tales' adaptations.

Stars: Shelley Duvall, John Achorn, Patrick DeSantis
Hook (1991)
Adventure | Comedy | Family
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.8/10 X  

When Captain James Hook kidnaps his children, an adult Peter Pan must return to Neverland and reclaim his youthful spirit in order to challenge his old enemy.

Director: Steven Spielberg
Stars: Dustin Hoffman, Robin Williams, Julia Roberts
Fantasia (1940)
Animation | Family | Fantasy
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.8/10 X  

A collection of animated interpretations of great works of Western classical music.

Directors: James Algar, Samuel Armstrong, and 10 more credits »
Stars: Leopold Stokowski, Deems Taylor, The Philadelphia Orchestra
Animation | Adventure | Family
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.5/10 X  

The magical inhabitants of a rainforest fight to save their home, which is threatened by logging and a polluting force of destruction called Hexxus.

Director: Bill Kroyer
Stars: Samantha Mathis, Christian Slater, Robin Williams


Buff sailor man Popeye arrives in an awkward seaside town called Sweethaven. There he meets Wimpy, a hamburger-loving man; Olive Oyl, the soon-to-be love of his life; and Bluto, a huge, mean pirate who is out to make Sweethaven pay for no good reason. Popeye also discovers his long-lost Pappy in the middle of it all, so with a band of his new friends, Popeye heads off to stop Bluto, and he's got the power of spinach, which Popeye detests, to bust Bluto right in the mush. Watch as Popeye mops the floor with punks in a burger joint, stops a greedy taxman, takes down a champion boxer, and even finds abandoned baby Swee'pea. He's strong to the finish 'cause he eats his spinach. Written by Dylan Self <robocoptng986127@aol.com>

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis


He's a man's man! He's a ladies man! He's a family man! He's a sailor man! See more »


PG | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

View content advisory »

Did You Know?


Popeye's arrival in Sweethaven and Popeye getting into a fight with the gang at the burger bar, when the gang insults him is a nod to the western genre. See more »


When Popeye finds his pappy tied to the chair hanging from the ceiling in Bluto's ship, he takes his pipe out of his mouth before he hugs his pappy. Seconds later, the pipe is back in his mouth. See more »


Popeye: Friendly here. A little scary too. I think I'll spend a year.
See more »

Crazy Credits

The film begins in black-and-white, showing a vintage Paramount logo and the opening credits for the 1930s Paramount-Fleischer Studios Popeye cartoons. However, an animated Popeye appears and sees this is the wrong opening. The movie then cuts to full color, and the opening credits continue. See more »

Alternate Versions

A recent television version is altered in at least one way. Bluto's song "I'm Mean" is eliminated from the soundtrack as he trashes the Oyls' family home waiting for Olive Oyl. See more »


Referenced in The Cinema Snob: Pieces (2011) See more »


He's Large
Music and Lyrics by Harry Nilsson
Performed by Shelley Duvall and Chorus
See more »

User Reviews

Newspaper comic strip makes for outdated but charming film.
18 January 2000 | by SanDiegoSee all my reviews

Highly underrated film version of the original comic strip. That's right, Popeye's purpose was to sell newspapers long before he hit the theaters as an animated short subject star, and this movie brings to life those characters such as Rough House the cook and Bill Barnacle the town drunk that appeared in the Thimble Town Theater strip (and then later, Popeye comic strip). It also brings along some of the subject matter usually handled in daily newspaper comics such as tariffs and land barons. Perhaps this is why Robert Altman, not a director known for family films, was brought onto the project. (Screenwriter Jules Pfeifer incidently started out as a comic strip writer before venturing into adult film projects such as Carnal Knowledge and Oh! Calcutta.) The problem is that the film should have been made, could have been made, in the early forties. The audience would have at least understood the subject matter (For example, the delightful Blondie film series is now great nostalgic slapstick fun but younger audiences don't have enough understanding of WW2 family life to appreciate it fully). Most audiences who watch the live action version of Popeye are expecting the cartoon series of the fifties (or egad, the 70's!). The contemporary newspaper crowd (who is the usual intended target of Altman) grew up with Popeye on TV, not in the comic strip, not on the silver screen sandwiched between newsreels of battleships and the latest W.C. Fields comedy! Would they even understand the appropriateness of sweet sea chanties? Some sort of concession was made by having the actors mimic the characters as portrayed in the film cartoons. They do a really good job with it too. Robin Williams has the under-his-breath mumble, the hick-upy laughter, the stance, walk, bulging arms that do helicopter blade turns in a fight. Shelly Duvall (a former Robert Altman protege) pegs Olive Oyl perfectly, especially with her waving of arms and pretzel twisting of legs as she tries to turn around in confusion. Just watch her walk out of a room and it seems like your watching a cartoon. Together, Williams and Duvall have real chemistry and are a delight. Swee'Pea is one of the most enduring infants ever (and so little is ever said about him). His facial expressions are just magical (and without today's computer generated effects!). Incidently, he's Robert Altman's grandson. I don't know how many takes it took to get some of those reactions, but it was well worth it. Finally, to answer the harshest critics, was the plot slow and unfunny? Yes to both. The production values, sets, actors, and songs were excellent. The script could have worked under the direction of someone more suited to family-style slapstick comedy which was Paramount's (and Disney's) intention. The pratfalls were too pedestrian, seeming like rehearsals (remember the dance scene from Speilberg's own flop 1942?). Though the film really has heart, the pace of all the comedy bits failed. Acrobats were hired to play many of the non-speaking townsfolks and it looks it. This film needed a director who understood the comedy timing of slapstick routines (from Buster Keaton to Jerry Lewis). Then it could have been the laugh fest it's audience wanted instead of a sweet film with heart and charm. It's a time capsule buried in 1930, unearthed in 1980, and misunderstood in the year 2000. Perhaps Popeye's answer to film historians would be this: "I yam what I yam and that's all that I yam."

11 of 15 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you? | Report this
Review this title | See all 201 user reviews »

Frequently Asked Questions

This FAQ is empty. Add the first question.






Release Date:

12 December 1980 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

Popeye See more »

Filming Locations:

Malta See more »


Box Office


$20,000,000 (estimated)

Opening Weekend USA:

$6,310,520, 14 December 1980

Gross USA:


Cumulative Worldwide Gross:

See more on IMDbPro »

Company Credits

Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs


Sound Mix:



Color | Black and White (prologue)

Aspect Ratio:

2.39 : 1
See full technical specs »

Contribute to This Page

Recently Viewed