From the very inception of the Famous Studios version of the Bluto character in 1944, this was the role he was destined to play. As a professional bodybuilder Bluto poses and performs feats of strength for an awestruck crowd, sending Popeye into a fit of jealous rage over his own inadequacy. All that phenomenal muscular development packed into scanty posing attire piques Olive's interest and she drops Popeye in a heartbeat like the proverbial hot potato. What woman would not do the same, and what man would not give his eye tooth to be in Bluto's shoes? The creators of Bluto's image had done their homework and crafted their strongman with huge lats, commanding delts, and a tree-trunk neck, all set off by a minuscule waist--a vision of masculine physique perfection that still resonates more than a half-century later. In addition to his looks and confidence, Bluto got all the best lines and made Popeye look like an unwitting chump from start to finish. And we know Bluto could make Olive deliriously happy if he could just help her move past her puritanical fear of her sexual desires.
Alas, it is not to be as once again the little pop-eyed scoundrel cheats with his tawdry can of spinach and brutally finishes off and tortures the far more appealing character. Famous Studios adhered to the contracted formula, but made it fairly transparent which of the male leads they really "liked best." How many of us ever aspired to grow up and be like Popeye?
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