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Sweethaven

Sweethaven

Sweethaven is the name of the town where Popeye and his friends live, according to Robert Altman's 1980 film Popeye. It is depicted as a small seaside village, made of wooden houses with a large port, as opposed to the larger settlement they inhabited in the original comics and cartoons, though still retaining the rustic look of the port featured in the original Thimble Theatre.

Setting

Popeye's Island

Popeye's hometown on an island as illustrated on a map by Bud Sagendorf.

Popeye's hometown originally went unnamed in past incarnations prior to the film, but the most common trait between them was that it was in or near the port as was needed due to Popeye's occupation as a sailor. The town as originally depicted is a humble little locale with a rustic port town, a small district with buildings and a countryside by the sea with little rustic houses where most of the characters resided. The location of the town as explained by Bud Sagendorf was an island in an archipelago that had access to many other strange and unique islands, such as Dice Island, Goon Island, Spinachovia, Demonia and many more. As depicted in the 1980 film, the town is shown to have its own "national" anthem, suggesting that Popeye's hometown may actually be its own island nation, however if this were to be true for the original depiction of Popeye's hometown (as would be fitting due to its seeming disconnection from the rest of the world) it may mean that the island itself is a self-governing insular territory of the United States, which would fit with the portrayal of the characters as US citizens in the comics and cartoons and characters mentioning the island as being part of America while using US currency, as well as the presence of what seems to be a US flag on the Tax Collector's bike in the live-action film. It is also required to be a US citizen to permanently reside in Sweethaven, as seen with Toar who needed to take both a citizenship test and prove to be of value to the country's workforce.

The world of Popeye

The world of Popeye as depicted in the original comics was portrayed as being disconnected from real world events due to its island setting that seemed to be a world all its own with many unique seas and islands that could be accessed from Popeye's hometown. However, real world countries did still exist and would be used as references or visited but it would seem as though major events that happened in the real world, such as crises and wars, did not occur in the Popeye setting, or at least that in Popeye's hometown these situations did not affect them, other than possibly the Great Depression which was only mentioned once. This was rather different in the cartoons by Fleischer Studios where signs of the Great Depression were present and clearly visible in many shorts and later shorts by both Fleischer and Famous Studios even had Popeye get involved in World War II by joining the U. S. Navy. However the comics themselves and later cartoons would avoid referencing any real world events and only limit it to references to real world locations, which like in the original Thimble Theatre kept the world of Popeye as an alternate Earth all its own.

National Anthem

The town of Sweethaven, as depicted in the 1980 film, has its own national anthem which its people sing with great pride. The song of the national anthem was composed by Harry Nilsson. The lyrics are as follows.

Sweet Sweethaven
God must love us
We the people
Love Sweethaven
Hurray hurray Sweethaven
Flags are wavin'
Swept people from the sea
Safe from democracy
Sweeter than a melon tree
Put here for you and me
Sweethaven
Sweet Sweethaven
God must love us
We the people
Of Sweethaven
God must have landed here
Why else would he strand us here
Where the air is nice and clear
Sweethaven even sounds so near
To Heaven
God will always bless Sweethaven
God will always bless Sweethaven
God will always bless Sweethaven

Notable locations

The following is a list of locations in Sweethaven that have been seen or mentioned throughout Popeye media.

Residences and Lodgings

  • Popeye's Home
  • Oyl Residence
  • Poopdeck's Boat
  • Seafarer's Hotel

Businesses

  • Rough House Cafe
  • Geezil's Businesses
  • Wimpy's
  • Castor Oyl Detective Agency
  • Prof. Brainstine (pharmacy)
  • Warbucks Bank & Trust
  • Boat Shop
  • Bait Shop
  • Hardware Store
  • Wimpy Co.

Entertainment

  • Thimble Palace
  • Thimble Theatre
  • Max and Son's Square Gardens
  • Downtown Arena
  • Sweethaven Race Track
  • The Wharf Club
  • Kit Cat Club
  • Pier 29

Others

  • Popeye's Private Pier
  • Church
  • Light House
  • Sweethaven School
  • Offices of Dear Old Uncle Sam
  • Sweethaven Fire Department
  • Sailor's Union Office

Setting history

Thimble Theatre

Popeye's port town

Alice the Goon leaving Popeye's port town in Thimble Theatre.

In the original comic strip by E. C. Segar known as Thimble Theatre, Popeye's hometown originally went unnamed and was portrayed as a humble port town with a large port, a few modern conveniences and rustic houses for the time of the comic's run between 1919 and 1938.

In Bud Sagendorf's revival of the comic, it was regularly portrayed as a humble little town with rustic houses and buildings that occasionally had modern conveniences or buildings to suit a particular story. Popeye and his friends were shown as regularly living in small little rustic houses close to the sea and the town itself according to maps as drawn by Sagendorf was actually an island in an unknown archipelago that was presumably close to America and Spinachovia, and closer still to Ghost Island.

Fleishcer Studios

In the 1933 to 1942 Fleischer Studios cartoons, Popeye's unnamed hometown was prone to frequent redesigns to suit the story of a short, but most commonly among all the shorts was that Popeye was portrayed as living in the rundown part of town near the port in either his ship or an apartment, and rarely later on as living in a modest home in a neighborhood in the countryside. This was used to reflect the difficult times of the Great Depression as well as Popeye's difficulty as a lower class man. The town he lived in was usually portrayed as being a small neighborhood close to the sea or somewhere in the country, but most commonly it was a small city near the port that usually looked rundown.

Famous Studios

Due to the even more episodic nature of the 1942 to 1957 Famous Studios cartoons, Popeye's place of residence saw more constant changes than usual, and the majority of shorts took place while Popeye was on vacation or in certain parts of the US, so no definitive or recurring towns existed within these shorts. However, in the short She-Sick Sailors, a train station is seen that lists the name of the town where they lived in the short as "Bridgeport", however this was only used for that one short.

Popeye's first TV series

In the 1960s Popeye television cartoon, Popeye's hometown also goes unnamed, but is consistently featured to resemble its appearance in the original Thimble Theatre as a small simple town near the port with a few a modern attractions and the characters were regularly portrayed as living in the same recurring houses.

Popeye's first movie

Sweethaven first appeared in the 1980 film Popeye as depicted by Robert Altman. The town is quite rustic in comparison to the modest urban hometown of Popeye and his friends featured in the original Thimble Theatre. Sweethaven was portrayed by the Popeye Village in Malta, which was built for the occasion but still stands as a tourist attraction. Since its debut, the Sweethaven or at least the depiction of the town has been used somewhat regularly in Popeye media.

Popeye and Son

Sweet Haven in Popeye and Son

Sweet Haven in Popeye and Son.

In the 1987 TV series Popeye and Son the town is also identified as Sweethaven notably in the opening animation by the huge sign spelling "SWEET HAVEN" on a hill, not unlike the Hollywood Sign. Again shown as a small seaside town, in this setting later in Popeye's life it is seen to have grown and modernized considerably, resembling the somewhat more urbanized Sweet Haven from the old comics and cartoons, but a bit more so due to the presence of many new attractions meant to appeal to a newer generation of kids.

Popeye's Voyage: The Quest for Pappy

Sweehaven in Popeye's Voyage

Sweethaven in Popeye's Voyage: The Quest for Pappy.

In the 2004 CGI film, Popeye's Voyage: The Quest for Pappy, Sweethaven is shown once again resembling its film incarnation but is now far bigger with even more houses, ports and piers, but is still just as rustic as ever.

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