Swimmer Take All
Number 187
Popeye and Bluto in Swimmer Take All.jpg
Lunch with a Punch
Friend or Phony

Swimmer Take All is Popeye's 187th cartoon, released by Famous Studios on May 16, 1952.  It features Popeye as the protagonist, Olive Oyl as his coach and assistant, Bluto as the main antagonist, a race announcer, and an assortment of marine creatures.


The story begins with a view of a banner that reads "Channel Swim Starting Line," and we hear an announcer with a thickly caricatured British accent say, "Ladies and gentlemen, the Channel race for the Piccadilly Golden Cup is about to take place between Popeye the Sailor and his formidable opponent, Bluto!". As the scene pans downward we see a wood pier with a white starting line painted across it, behind which the two contestants grin with confidence. Bluto wears standard black competition briefs while Popeye wears bulky old-fashioned swim attire that resembles bib overalls and reaches down to his ankles, which we later learn is apparently knit out of wool. Bluto proffers a friendly handshake and says, "May the best man win, chum!". Popeye accepts this sportsmanlike gesture and quips, "Thanks, Bluto, and I hopes you comes in second!"  We now see Olive in a rowboat next to the pier, cheering wildly for Popeye. As in the later Out to Punch, and unlike other cartoons, Olive functions here strictly as Popeye's coach, trainer, and cheering section; at no time does she appear attracted to Bluto, nor he to her.

As the race is about to get underway, Popeye jumps the gun and gains a momentary advantage.  But Bluto bends down and pries up the plank on which Popeye is making his mad dash, shoving it out over the water to thwart him as he makes his dive. Bluto then uses the extended plank as a diving board and shouts, "So long, chum!" as he races off towards the French coast.  Olive intercedes first to saw Popeye free, and then again to haul him out of the water and point him the right way after he confusedly starts swimming in the direction of the English shore.

We now observe Bluto floating on his back with his hands folded across his midsection, utilizing his ears as paddles (as the Lifeguard was able to do in Beach Peach), observing to no one in particular, "With that runt out of the race, I'm a cinch to win that loving cup." Just at that moment, Popeye zooms past him, calling out 'Whassamatter, pal, draggin' your anchor?"  An infuriated Bluto snaps out of his languor and exclaims, "Why, that double-crossing water rat!"

Bluto's trickery now springs into high gear.  He passes Popeye in an upright position with his arms folded across his chest ('Look, chum, no hands!'); an "underwater" camera angle then reveals that he is pedaling a unicycle with his feet along the rather shallow bottom. Bluto next pauses to consult a book he has brought along ('How to Speak French') for the proper phrase with which to accept his trophy while Popeye again swims past him to take the lead. Somehow undetected, Bluto grabs a loose thread from the shoulder strap of Popeye's swimsuit, ties it to a fishhook, and tosses it into the water. A fish with teeth grabs the hook and swims away, unraveling the suit in the process and leaving the modest sailor presumably naked.

The next scene shows Bluto again on his back, this time aboard a wood raft with a sail filled with wind from an electric fan. He is singing "Blow the Man Down".  The view switches to Popeye at the bottom of the sea with a pair of knitting needles, reconstituting his bathing suit. A large fish--again with teeth--swallows Popeye whole just as he is completing the job.  We see the shape of Popeye's fist rear back from the fish's tail and smash his way out through the clenched teeth, and suddenly the Sailor Man is back in the race.

He approaches Bluto's raft and calls out, "One side, Blubberhead, you're obstructing the sea lanes!". Once again aroused from his slumber, Bluto reaches into his racing suit and pulls out a can marked "Sneezing Powder". He blows a quantity of the substance into Popeye's face; the resulting sneeze propels Bluto's craft forward.  This happens a second time to Bluto's advantage. On the third attempt, Popeye turns around, and his sneeze propels himself forward, demolishing the raft in the process and catapulting the big man into the ocean's bottom.

From below, Bluto secures a magnet to Popeye's suit as he swims past. This attracts a "magnet mine," which explodes and blows Popeye all the way back to the starting line. We see Bluto on an inner tube, smoking a cigar, restating his recurring theme: "With that runt out of the race, I can take it easy". However, the "Channel Swim Starting Line" banner acts as though it were made of rubber, and flings the diminutive competitor well past Bluto's float. He crashes into the water right in front of Olive's dinghy at a point marked by a sign, "1/2 Mile to Finish Line."

Once again Olive fishes Popeye out of the water and reorients him. Bluto has somehow obtained a small speedboat with a powerful motor and races towards the finish. As Popeye gamely tries to catch up to him, Bluto pulls a handy cord on the side of a vessel marked "cement barge." The side of it opens up, discharging its contents and imprisoning the sailor as it instantly hardens. Prepared for such an eventuality, Olive utilizes a pump and hose to funnel the contents of a spinach can to Popeye's waiting pipe on the sea floor.

The reawakened sailor drills his way out of his concrete prison, and then gives it the type of punch that usually signals Bluto's downfall. The cement mass breaks neatly into small components, which fly from the ocean bed to a small islet and assemble themselves into a perfect lighthouse. He then rockets towards the finish line with such force that his backwash creates a tidal wave. This sweeps Bluto up to the top of the newly-made lighthouse, where we see him in the water-filled lantern attempting to flee from angry swordfish.

Popeye wins the race, but as he climbs out of the water he runs afoul of a tiny nail on the ladder which again wreaks havoc with his knit swimwear. As the episode concludes, we see Olive rowing back towards Britain (with her feet using the oars), and Popeye concealed inside his trophy cup, again knitting his suit back together. He declares, "It was a close race, Olive. I just barely won it!"


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