Tar with a Star is Popeye's 166th theatrical cartoon, released by Famous Studios on August 12, 1949. It stars Popeye as the Sheriff, Bluto as "Wild Bill Bluto," an outlaw gunslinger, and Olive Oyl as a dance hall girl. There are also a town official, a pair of gunfighters, four bank robbers, a barkeep, sundry barroom patrons, and a housefly in supporting roles.
The cartoon opens with a picture of tumultuous gunfire in the Old West town of Cactus Corners. The scene shifts to the town's welcome sign, where we witness the population decrease by more than 50% in a matter of moments. Next, we get a look at the establishment of Barry M. Deep, undertaker, apparently doing a land-rush business in this noxious atmosphere.
Presently we see Popeye in his Navy uniform, singing his theme song on horseback. On the outskirts of Cactus Corners, he passes by the town cemetery, with the graves of Sheriffs Peg-Leg, Slim, and Shorty, who had met their respective ends only a day apart. Next to them is an open grave, with a job posting mounted above it which ominously reads, "Sheriff wanted to fill this vacancy." Popeye decides at once that he is "the gob for that job."
Popeye is presented with a badge and a pair of "shooting irons," which he refuses. He proclaims, "I keeps law and order with me fisks!" which is greeted with derisive laughter by the townspeople. But within seconds, Popeye has stopped a gunfight and prevented a bank robbery,all without the aid of a gun. He sets about to reform the habits of the town: the neon sign in the window of the saloon is changed from "whiskey" to "ice cream sodas," and we witness the denizens inside following their new pursuits of playing with a ball-and-jacks and doing needlepoint while the dance-hall girl (Olive) sings a spirited version of "I Got Spurs that Jingle-Jangle-Jingle."
But trouble soon rears its head in the newly pacified town. The most notorious of Cactus Corners' outlaws, Wild Bill Bluto, comes riding his horse right into the saloon, shooting up everything in sight. The bar patrons dive for cover, but Olive Oyl's loudly clattering knees grab the bad man's attention.
Wild Bill stomps right over the "new peace-puss" and introduces himself. Popeye commands him to cease and desist, but Bluto crumples the sailor's tin badge to dust and pummels him into a nearby spittoon. Popeye persists in his attempt to restore order, going so far as to handcuff Wild Bill to prevent further harassment of Ms. Oyl. But Bluto is too strong for Popeye, and slingshots the smaller man right through the roof of the building and straight into the grave that had been prepared in advance for the new sheriff.
Bluto continues his assault on Olive, attacking with a sledgehammer her place of refuge in an iron safe. Popeye, however, hears her screams from his place of interment, ingests his spinach, and shoots like a volcanic eruption back to the scene of his earlier defeat. He dispatches Bluto with a punch, knocking him into a building support post and lighting his long handlebar moustache on fire. But this has only angered the big man, and he soon has both his six-guns blazing away in Popeye's direction. Popeye's empowered fists send the bullets back at Bluto, shearing off the man's trousers and finally doing away with his oversized moustache. Next, the bullets reshape Bluto's ten-gallon hat and puncture it full of holes until it resembles a baby's bonnet. Bluto makes one further attempt to fire his weapons, but a stage-prop flag pops out that reads, "That's all, brother."
Now, Popeye has his vengeance against the man who had almost succeeded in sending him to his grave: A second punch smashes Bluto into the ceiling. When he comes down, he is bereft of his cowboy boots and all his teeth except for one in the middle, and all the trappings of manliness that characterized the brute are swept away. The wood broken free in his collision with the rafters forms a playpen enclosure, his abbreviated pants turn into a diaper, and his socks become baby booties. Bluto begins to bellow exactly like an infant pitching a tantrum.
Finally, Popeye rescues Olive from the safe and gets a big hug. She exclaims, "Love that sheriff!'