So, we're up to the fourth of the Fleischer Popeyes, and someone must've decided they didn't like the previous arrangement of the Popeye Theme, because this time around, "I Eats My Spinach" opens with the arrangement we've come to know and love, more or less (the hornpipe introduction goes a bit longer than usual).
We iris out to see Popeye walking down the street, singing his theme song -- and this street looks like Popeye's been mad at it in the past, because there are broken windows and warped doorways. Ahead of him, two roughs are fighting each other, but Popeye just walks right between them without getting hurt. Later, a tiny thief is holding up a big fat policeman, and Popeye walks between them, too! Next, Popeye's walking past a construction site where a big piledriver is in use, and walks right through it -- damaging it beyond repair when it hits him!
Shortly, he arrives at the apartment house Olive Oyl lives in, and calls out her name, followed by throwing a boulder through her window! She comes and looks out, and when she sees Popeye, she calls out, "Oh, sweetheart!" This gets Popeye acting all shy, and a heart comes out of his chest (with an anchor -- he is, after all, a sailor). Olive slides down the drainpipe, landing in a full barrel of rain water, and Popeye invites her to the rodeo.
Naturally, at the rodeo, Bluto -- or rather, "The Great Bluto" is performing. We're kind of going back to the Betty Boop cartoon territory, as the first people we see at the rodeo is a pig selling tickets, with a cow woman (with her children hiding under her dress) buying one. Popeye and Olive arrive, and Olive buys a ticket and walks in, then uses her long legs to pass the ticket over the fence to Popeye, so he can get in, too. Inside, they can't find a seat, so Popeye pulls a row of seats over to make room next to a cat woman and a horse man.
Wimpy is in charge of telling what event is what, and while eating burgers (from an enormous pile of them), he sticks his foot over a bucket of paint (there's a brush tied to his shoe) and slaps paint on a big sheet of paper, announcing the first event is fancy horsemanship. Bluto rides out, standing on top of his horse, which turns into three smaller horses, and then merge back into one again! He then proceeds to slide his way all around the horse without falling off of it (it's kind of hard to describe - see the picture to get an idea of it) and then standing on the horse's outstretched tail. Olive applauds him like crazy, so Bluto rides up to meet her.
When Olive remarks, "Ain't he grand?" Popeye says, "Well, watch me!" and proceeds to hop into the arena and on the horse, riding it backwards! Then, he grabs the horse's tail and pulls on it, turning the horse back to front! Then, he takes the horse to a central ring, where he rides standing on it like a circus performer, and then switches places with the horse! The crowd goes wild for Popeye's stunts, but Bluto just stamps his foot.
The next event is steer wrestling, and a steer is released for Bluto to wrestle. He pulls it to the ground and then, grabbing the horns, twists its head around in circles, but when he lets it go, it spins back, smacking Bluto with the horns in the face. The steer then runs off, but Popeye grabs it, and Popeye and the steer begin wrestling like human wrestlers, with the steer at one point putting Popeye into a scissors hold (briefly changing into scissors, naturally). But then Popeye turns the tables on the bull, and even does some judo-style throws on it until the bull's tail goes straight up and a white flag of surrender is raised. Naturally, the crowd goes crazy for this!
Then, an even bigger, meaner bull comes out, which Bluto catches with a lasso. He ties it up, r starts to... but the bull takes over and ties up Bluto! Popeye laughs over this, and then pulls out a red cape, and starts bullfighting! Bluto gets out of his ropes, and lassos Olive, and goes to get a kiss from her, but she runs off! Popeye doesn't notice this, as he's too busy having fun with the bull, even switching places with the bull holding the cape! But then he hears Olive, and chases after her and Bluto. So we have Olive, Bluto, Popeye, and the Bull running away from the arena!
The bull manages to hit Popeye with his horns, sending Popeye crashing into Bluto, bumping Bluto far enough ahead so that he can grab Olive! But she squirms free and kicks Bluto, sending him spinning (and Bluto somehow transfers the spinning to Popeye, who pulls out just in time to clobber the bull. Then Popeye leaps to where Bluto and Olive are, getting between them, and holding Bluto off with his feet while he gets out his spinach... and we get a very slow version of the Popeye theme, not the fanfare we've been waiting for!
Energized by the spinach, Popeye knocks Bluto aside with one blow, just as the recovered bull is charging straight at them! Popeye hits it once, sending it up to the air, and it falls down as prepared cuts of meat for Popeye's Meat Market! Popeye sings, "I'm Popeye the Sailor Man! (toot! toot!)" and we iris out!
We've come very, very close to a "perfect" Popeye with this one... the transformation punch was saved for the end of the cartoon, the spinach wasn't eaten too soon... but we didn't get the full pay-off for the spinach, no fanfare, no effects... one punch for Bluto, one for the bull, and it's all over. Plus, of course, there's the whole arena full of animals and not humans thing, which bugs the crap out of me when watching Popeye cartoons! So unfortunately, I can only give this three cans of spinach (it would've been four if there'd been people in the arena).