Rodeo Romeo is Popeye's 142nd theatrical cartoon, released by Famous Studios on August 16, 1946.  It features Popeye the Sailor as the main protagonist, Olive Oyl as the romantic interest, Badlands Bluto as the main antagonist and a rodeo bull as a secondary antagonist. In addition to featuring the characters in a Western setting (as in Popalong Popeye and Tar with a Star), the cartoon is notable for its use of hallucinatory drugs in its plot.


This cartoon is one of a few (such as Popeye Meets Hercules, Toreadorable, etc.) that are essentially  variations on a theme: Bluto is the headliner at an athletic event conducted in a stadium to which Popeye has taken Olive on a date.  Olive cheers for Bluto, who singles her out of the crowd and makes romantic passes on her despite the presence of her boyfriend. This causes an irate Popeye to jump onto the stadium field and, with the help of some spinach, challenge the star attraction at his own game.

As this cartoon commences, we see Olive Oyl in Western garb, cheering for the performer, while a sullen Popeye exclaims, "Phooey!" Taking a momentary break from his expert stunt riding, Bluto rolls himself a cigarette and utilizes Popeye and his pipe for a lighter, a gag that was repeated in Popalong Popeye.

Having had enough, Popeye vows, "I'll show that cut-rate drugstore cowboy!" He swallows some spinach and proceeds to best Badlands at bareback riding, shooting, and rope tricks. A steaming Bluto retorts, "That ornery varmint is ruining me act!" and fiendishly fills the sailor's spinach can with locoweed. There ensues a series of vignettes of a hallucinatory nature: Popeye mistakes a savage bull for a society matron and attempts to waltz with "her"; Bluto, accidentally ingesting some of his own handiwork, mistakes Olive for a calf that requires roping and branding.

Bluto Cowboy Beef

Bluto spikes Popeye's spinach with loco weed

Olive's cries for help break Popeye out of his drugged stupor and, breaking out a second can of spinach, his punch transforms the bull into a butcher shop display of steaks, roasts, chops and sausage links, surmounted by a Texas Longhorn hat rack. Bluto, seeming to escape his hallucinatory high as the same time as Popeye, fires off a barrage of hot branding irons at the sailor, reminiscent of his horseshoe weapons in The Anvil Chorus Girl, which Popeye flings back at him in a similar fashion. The big man attempts to escape but is struck in the derriere.

In the final scene, a merciful Popeye and Olive deposit a tub of water at the foot of the board fence Bluto had attempted to climb, and the wannabe Rodeo Romeo falls backwards into it.  As he extricates himself we can see that the branding irons have spelled out the words "THE END."


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