health claskes for wimmin folk! I'll never understands it, I tells ya
We hold on the storefront so the slow people might be able to get the message. You know, just because Popeye is thin and scrawny doesn't mean he's capable of leading an exercise class. He probably won't even tell them about the spinach! At least, not until about the five minute mark. But this is a movie, and Popeye gets all the customers he can handle. In this case, four. It's free as long as you can fit through the door.
When suddenly... we pan to next door. Gotta hand it to the Fleischers; it's a diagonal pan, not your cheap horizontal job like Hanna Barbera always does. And of course, next door to Popeye is Bluto with his cabaret business. The sign on the glass window says "ladies invited." Now, I don't know much about cabarets, but I figure it's all Bluto can do to make it lady-friendly. Bluto stands out front nervously chomping a cigar, looking enviously over at Popeye's business.
And, of course, here comes Olive Oyl, the olive branch that always ignites passions between Bluto and Popeye. Bluto persuades Olive as nicely as he can that it's in her best interest to go out with him. "Gettin' healthy is the bunk," he says. Hmm! Kinda doesn't sound like Gus Wickie, but according to the IMDb, it apparently is. He hasn't found his stride as Bluto yet. Olive slips past the bowing Bluto and he looks around, mumbling to himself. That's the Bluto we know and love!
Bluto looks in the window of Popeye's Gymnasium, and there's a cross-fade to the gym floor proper. Popeye's leading his four ladies in a simple workout. He waits impatiently for Olive, who's late. "Sorry, professor!" she says. Aww. And so, the workout begins, and the music is, of course, Popeye's theme song. He doesn't sing the lyrics, though, but he does blow his pipe for every fourth beat, and I mean every fourth beat. Popeye has been introduced.
Suddenly, the Roman and Greek gods of ideas metaphorically smite Bluto in the head with their equivalent of lightning bolts. "Ah HAH!" he says, and goes into the locker room of Popeye's Gymnasium... what's that guy up to? He's not... yes he is. Good Lourdes. At 1:50, he's apparently dressed in women's fashion, right down to the high heel shoes, lol. And he's busy preparing the finishing touch: a shave. Damn, he's good. He grabs the worst razor possible, even worse than a Stooge razor and, as quickly as he lathered up his face with shaving cream, he shaves his trademark iconic beard off. Alas, it wasn't a game-changing beard, just a regular old iconic beard.
Actually, that was the second-to-last touch. The finishing touch is a Raggedy Ann head of hair, and Bluto could pass for a member of the East German women's swim team.
The giant she-Bluto struts out to the gym floor proper, and his wooing of Popeye begins. Bluto says "I'd like to JOIN!" The word 'join' is his only attempt at sounding feminine, but never mind. Bluto then flexes his left arm. Popeye seems skeptical. He hasn't been in New York for long, but he's seen his share of the transvestikes, even in the Navy. "You seem pretty strong," he tells Bluto. Bluto giggles, and says "I'm even stronger than you!" That tears it. Popeye doesn't officially suspend class, but class is suspended for his latest pissing match with she-Bluto.
First feat of strength: pull-ups. Bluto does a couple of one-handed... scratch that; one-fingered pull-ups with his left arm. I guess Bluto's a lefty! I never knew that. "Beat that!" he says. And Popeye does... I guess. But say what you will; at least Bluto left the pipes in good shape. Popeye leaves them all wreckety-wrecked.
Next up: some gymnastics! Bluto is much more limber than I ever thought. There's another set of pipes, but these are hanging from the gym's high ceiling. Bluto starts doing... according to Wikipedia, there's no fancy name for it. Bluto grabs onto the bar and starts swinging around. The full 360 degrees no less! And the icing on that particular cake is that Popeye gets kicked in the chin in the process. The second kick sends Popeye flying. Bluto dismounts and the four ladies applaud him. Popeye's in a heap against the wall, covered in small dumbbells. His pipe twirls and trills. He picks himself up off the ground and says... I mean, sez "Too bad she's a lady!" Time for Popeye to take she-Bluto to school, gymnastics-wise. He does the same move, but hangs onto the bar with his chin instead of his hands. Popeye's just a freak of nature, let's face it. When Popeye dismounts, he defies gravity. Foul play!
Third feat: the rope climb to the ceiling. Oh puh-leeze. Popeye wins that one in less than a New York minute. The girls applaud again, but no one knows who for.
Bluto thinks about his next move, and comes up with a dilly. The medicine ball! Of course! Who invents these things, anyway? Between the medicine ball and golf, I'll never understand certain things in this life.
And so, Bluto wails away on Popeye with the medicine ball. Why didn't Bluto think of this ruse before? Popeye can't strike back against a lady! This is why Bluto will always have the first advantage over Popeye in these struggles. Bluto lives by only one rule: the supremacy of Bluto. Anyway, trouncing Popeye with a medicine ball wasn't enough. Popeye ends up near one of those weight-lifting things anchored to the wall, and Bluto punches Popeye six times while lifting weights. Oh, delicious irony. Then, Bluto rips the weights and ropes out of the wall, and they land on Popeye's head. Not so ironic, but still painful.
Has Bluto found the perfect ruse? It would seem so. However, there's a million ways to screw something up, and...
... there's one thing Bluto didn't count upon: that hook hanging from the ceiling. It grabs his wig and he doesn't notice. Bluto's wig floats down next to the passed-out Popeye. The fully conscious ladies, however, they put two and two together. Olive shrieks "IT'S A MAN!" No bonus points for cleverness? Apparently not. Now in panic mode, Bluto runs over to Olive's side. Olive holds her nose on high, points towards the exit, and says "GO!" to Bluto. He does, but he tries to take Olive with him. He almost makes it, too, but Olive's feet get caught in two hoops dangling from the ceiling by ropes. Now, sure, anyone could just pull Olive's feet out of said hoops and head for the exit, but a) that would make the film more expensive, having to have all those outdoor drawings. Take the outdoor scenes in For Better or Worser, for example. Why, they had to do a whole 3-D background just for that! They could've just had the matrimony agency next door to the Justice of the Peace. Wotta time saver!
Oh, right. And b) it's the principle of the thing. Bluto's a strong guy, and he's going to make Olive set her own feet loose by hook or by crook. Or maybe c) Bluto's just hard-headed. Dumb guys get that way in full Flight Mode. Well! Bluto's luck just went from bad to worse, because now Popeye's regained consciousness! Popeye's got the wig conveniently in front of him, so he quickly puts two and two together. "She's a HE!" he says. Just like the Stooges in If a Body Meets a Body... and others, I'm sure. Popeye rolls a dumbbell over to the first aid kit and knocks it open. Good thing that mattress is doubling as a ramp leading up to it! Now, I don't thik I need to tell you what one item is in Popeye's first aid kit.
Unable to extricate himself from the tangle of ropes he's in, the spinach rolls over to Popeye in much the same manner as he just rolled the dumbbell over to the spinach. With the spinach engulfed, Popeye is ready to kick some ass... just as soon as he floats down to the floor. Boy! He must've huffed a bunch of helium down at Coney Island or something.
And so, the gym-themed ass-kicking begins. Oh, I just can't bear to watch for some reason. But I will point out that Bluto takes a bunch of bowling pins off the wall and throws them at Popeye, much like he threw a bunch of horseshoes at Popeye in Shoein' Hosses, and much like he threw the xylophone bars in The Spinach Overture. The guy never learns.
For Popeye's final act of whoop-ass, he punches Bluto up into the air near the basketball hoop. "Get up, you woman impoikulator!" he says. Popeye scores two points, of course. I'm rather surprised that Bluto went through the hoop at all. It must be larger than it looks, or maybe Bluto is sweating pure grease at this point. And so, after all that needless excitement, Popeye gets back to the drudgery of leading his class. The ladies sing "The way to be wealthy is always be healthy..." Of course, most of today's billionaires would say that good health sure is important, but the real way to be wealthy is to either inherit it, or go into computers. But you gotta hand it to Bluto for upping his game. Lord help us all when he starts tampering with the spinach supply...
-so sayeth The Movie Hooligan