Director: Robert Altman
Screenwriters: Jules Feiffer, E.C. Segar

Institute History

  • 1991 Sundance Film Festival


Popeye is one of Altman's most entertaining and enjoyable films. In it he transforms the island of Malta into the colorful comic-strip town of Sweethaven, where goodalways triumphs and evil is doomed to a bad end. Robin Williams plays Popeye, a character described by screenwriter Jules Feiffer as the only honest man in a world filled with adorable thieves, "in a barrage of verbal asides, puns, corny remarks and "mispronunciations." It seems as if Shelley Duvall has been waiting all her life to play Olive Oyl, a role she turns into "a combination of Stan Laurel and Mae West." Paul Dooley is a perfect Wimpy, not too bright and obsessed by food, and Paul Smith's Bluto is a burly, blustering bully. Harry Nilsson's clever, lively songs help keep the film moving at breakneck speed. Ultimately Popeye is a story of one man's search for family and community; when Popeye finds his place in the world, we share his happiness and sense of achievement. Many Altman fans feel Popeye is his warmest and most accessible film.

— Barbara Bannon

Screening Details

As you use our Online Archives, please understand that the information presented from Festivals, Labs, and other activities is taken directly from official publications from each year. While this information is limited and doesn't necessarily represent the full list of participants (e.g. actors and crew), it is the list given to us by the main film/play/project contact at the time, based on the space restrictions of our publications. Each entry in the Online Archives is meant as a historical record of a particular film, play, or project at the time of its involvement with Sundance Institute. For this reason, we can only amend an entry if a name is misspelled, or if the entry does not correctly reflect the original publication. If you have questions or comments, please email [email protected]