A frustrated former big-city journalist now stuck working for an Albuquerque newspaper exploits a story about a man trapped in a cave to re-jump start his career, but the situation quickly escalates into an out-of-control circus.
A private eye escapes his past to run a gas station in a small town, but his past catches up with him. Now he must return to the big city world of danger, corruption, double crosses and duplicitous dames.
Sullivan is a successful, spoiled, and naive director of fluff films, with a heart-o-gold, who decides he wants to make a film about the troubles of the downtrodden poor. Much to the chagrin of his producers, he sets off in tramp's clothing with a single dime in his pocket to experience poverty first-hand, and gets some reality shock. Written by
Bob Doolittle <Bob.Doolittle@east.sun.com>
The studio boss Mr. LeBrand seems to be based on Sturges' champion at Paramount, production chief William LeBaron; LeBrand's acidic right-hand man Mr. Hadrian seems to be based on Paramount executive producer B. G. "Buddy" DeSylva, who took over as production chief from LeBaron the year Sullivan's Travels was released. The actors in these roles, Robert Warwick and Porter Hall, resemble the two producers. As implied by the scene, Sturges the director had a lot more difficulty working for DeSylva without LeBaron to run interference. DeSylva so infuriated the director by trying to recast and re-cut his films that Sturges finally quit the studio; after a disastrous preview of DeSylva's cut of his final Paramount picture, Sturges returned at no salary to re-cut and re-shoot Hail the Conquering Hero. See more »
When Sullivan and The Girl enter the giant communal sleeping room with the other tramps, the sign on the wall behind them mentions writing a letter to your mother. The sign is still there when the cook comes to wake them up, but in wide shots, the sign moves further left and a different sign is in its place. See more »
In the opening credits, the Paramount logo is depicted as a seal on a package wrapped in brown paper. The package is opened, revealing a book with the title of the movie. The pages are turned to show the credits. See more »
As a TV Producer of "entertainment" shows, I make a point of watching this film at least once a year and giving DVDs of it to all who may disparage what I do.
Preston Sturges achieves the impossible in this movie: he has his cake and eats it too. He makes a perfect film - he manages to make a socially significant statement while wrapping it up in a comedy confection.
His hero, John L. Sullivan (Joel McCrea - a very underestimated actor) is a
succcessful director of frivolous musicals and comedies who, one day, decides he needs to make a Capra-esque "serious"film. His studio chiefs and immediate staff are against it and point out that he is rich and privileged, what does he know about the less fortunate? Sullivan retorts with an ingenious plan:
Sullivan: "You're perfectly right...but I'll tell you what I'm going to do first: I'm going to get some old clothes and some old shoes from wardrobe and start out with ten cents in my pocket...and I'm not coming back till I know what trouble it..I'm going out on the road to find out what it's like to be poor and needy and then I'm going to make a picture about it."
Burrows(his butler): If you'll permit me to say so, sir, the subject is not an interesting one. The poor know all about poverty and only the morbid rich would find the topic glamorous.
Nevertheless, Sullivan does it and unwittingly (and hilariously) discovers the true value comedy has in the lives of those with little else to laugh about...
It's genius. Exquisitely written, directed and acted (Sturges uses his usual ensemble plus the ever watchable Veronica Lake, even here in her most improbable disguises [I met her, professionally, in England in the 70s, she was still a class act and her "rider" demanded her drink of choice - vodka and cranberry juice).
Sullivan's Travels is a true gem of American Cinema. Ten out of ten.
36 of 50 people found this review helpful.
Was this review helpful to you?