Service guile
Service with a Guile

The Admiral asks for a little air in his tire

Service with a Guile
is Popeye's 138th theatrical cartoon, released by Famous Studios on April 19, 1946. It features Popeye, Olive Oyl, Bluto, and the Admiral. The title parodies Service with a Smile, a 1934 Warner Brothers comedy film about a gas station run by chorus girls.


The cartoon commences with an establishing shot of an impressive gold-colored automobile pulling into Olive Oyl's Service Station. A distinguished-looking Admiral in a white dress uniform and white handlebar moustache (whom Olive mistakes for a doorman) emerges and instructs Ms. Oyl to "just put a little air in this tire" while he steps out to the adjoining cigar store. Meanwhile, Popeye and Bluto happen by on shore leave (amicable Navy buddies at this point who walk together arm-in-arm) and offer to jointly take her rowing. Olive is amenable, following completion of the seemingly simple task at hand.

The amicability between the two sailors begins to deteriorate as they jockey to assist the mechanically-challenged Ms. Oyl. As the two men bicker, the tire begins to over-inflate, which leads to a succession of mishaps. Before long, the tire explodes, sending the trio through a series of impediments and into a clothesline hung with ladies' undergarments, with comical results. Next, Popeye elevates the car on a hoist for a quick repair of the damage. Bluto takes issue with the alacrity with which Popeye completes the job and sabotages him with a grease gun. Popeye skids into the site of a skyscraper conveniently being constructed right next door, hoist and auto in hand, for another series of humorous near-misses with his precious cargo. Finally, Bluto seizes the hoist but allows the car to slip off, smashing it to smithereens as the Admiral emerges from the tobacconist's shop.

A panicky Olive commands Popeye to "fix it quick," so the sailor eats his spinach and is transformed into a "Super-Mechanic." In seconds he rebuilds the shattered vehicle from the chassis up, and it appears in perfect condition as the Admiral makes his return. Seeing this, Bluto butts Popeye out of the way, opens the door for his commanding officer, and proffers a proud salute. But as the Admiral gets in and begins to drive away, the automobile explodes (which leads to the question--did Popeye deliberately set Bluto up?) The blackened commander emerges from the charred wreckage, points a finger at a quivering Bluto, and declares, "When the court-martial gets through polishing you off, you'll be in a pretty scrape!"

As the final scene unfolds, Popeye and Olive float languidly by on their rowing excursion and we see the meaning behind the Admiral's words. Bluto is seated on a scaffold, small scraper in hand, removing the rust from an entire fleet of Naval destroyers. Popeye quips, "Aw, let him rust in peace!"


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