The third and final of the two-reel Popeye color specials, Aladdin and His Wonderful Lamp is nearly always mentioned as the least impressive of the color special series. That it was and that it is. Of course, we're talking about a twenty minute Technicolor cartoon from the 1930s starring Popeye, so you know there is plenty of entertainment value anyway, but it is a comedown from the previous specials.
For starters, it is missing Bluto, who played the villains in the previous two color cartoons. Gus Wickie had died in 1938, but the character of Bluto would be revived the same year as Aladdin, so it wouldn't have been that much of a stretch to write him into this film. Perhaps the Fleischers were having so much success without the Bluto character, they figured this film didn't need him. Or perhaps they just wanted to break away from formula. Whatever the reason, Aladdin was Bluto-less and the villain, known as The Grand Wazir, was a fairly one-dimensional and humorless character.
Animation styles were changing and those amazing quasi-3D shots, so well done in the previous color shorts as well as many a regular Popeye cartoon, were appearing less frequently in Popeye cartoons. So if you watch these specials in order, Aladdin will suffer (hint: when you're in the mood for all three, watch this one first!).
Finally, it may have been a case of going to the well once too often; by the third "Popeye placed into a Middle Eastern adventure" in a row, the law of diminishing returns was bound to kick in. There is little new in this one, and even the trio of monsters conjured up toward the end serve only to remind us of the better monsters found in Sinbad and Ali Baba.
It is Popeye
and therefore it
is well worth watching, especially for a couple of the funniest bits of
dialogue of all the three color specials, including the classic "I
never made love in Technicolor before!".