SULLIVAN’S TRAVELS (BLACK AND WHITE, 1941)
Joel McCrea, Veronica Lake, William Demarest, Robert Warwick, Franklin Pangbom, Porter Hall, Charles Moore, Eric Blore and Byron Foulger
7 and up
John Lloyd Sullivan (McCrea) is a director of escapist and comedy films, with names like Hey, Hey in the Hayloft and Ants in Your Plants of 1939. Suddenly he wants to direct a drama, and now he wants to direct a drama based on a novel on humanity, Oh, Brother, Where Art Thou? When his team points out that he knows nothing of hardship, he heads off as a tramp with only ten cents in his pocket. He soon meets a girl (Lake) and is saved twice by his reputation. Then, when he finds himself really in trouble, when he is left without any money and when his identity is stolen, he finds out the truth behind hardship.
|Still of Joel McCrea in Sullivan’s Travels|
Why it’s good:
Because it just is. Nobody can say much about a Preston Sturges comedy, but the truth is that this romance-drama-comedy is one of his best works.
The beginning is funny, the climax is sad, and in the end things start looking up. While the comedy gives everyone the laughs, the film is about hope and laughter. The message is clear (spoiler!): Who wants to see a sad movie when they can see a happy one?
While the jokes are Preston’s speciality (take for example, the word Amateur describing Sullivan as a tramp), the script is just so different, so much more civic-minded, and definitely better than the rest of his films.
Look for Preston Sturges’ cameo in the film. He is in the foreground when Veronica Lake was reading the newspaper and jumped in the air.
There is romance in the air between Sullivan and the girl.
If you like this…:
Sturges directed many comedies. It includes The Lady Eve (1941) about a heir to a beer company, The Palm Beach Story (1942) about an inventor needy for cash for his big idea, The Miracle of Morgan’s Creek and Hail the Conquering Hero (both 1944) about war, and finally Unfaithfully Yours (1948) about a musician.