8.1/10
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136 user 113 critic

Sullivan's Travels (1941)

Not Rated | | Adventure, Comedy, Drama | 6 February 1942 (USA)
A director of escapist films goes on the road as a hobo to learn about life, which gives him a rude awakening.

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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
...
...
...
...
Mr. Jones
...
Mr. Casalsis
...
...
Mr. Valdelle
...
Secretary
Robert Greig ...
Sullivan's Butler
...
Sullivan's Valet
...
The Doctor
Victor Potel ...
Cameraman
...
Radio Man
Charles R. Moore ...
Colored Chef (as Charles Moore)
...
Ursula
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Storyline

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>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

Taglines:

The Creator of "Lady Eve" brings you his latest and most lilting laugh-fest! See more »


Certificate:

Not Rated | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

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Details

Country:

Language:

Release Date:

6 February 1942 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Sullivans Reisen  »

Box Office

Budget:

$689,665 (estimated)
 »

Company Credits

Production Co:

 »
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Technical Specs

Runtime:

| (TV premiere)

Sound Mix:

(Western Electric Mirrophonic Recording)

Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
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Did You Know?

Trivia

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 »

Goofs

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 »

Quotes

The Girl: I liked you better as a bum.
John L. Sullivan: I can't help what kind of people you like.
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Crazy Credits

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 »

Connections

References The Wizard of Oz (1939) See more »

Soundtracks

Let My People Go
(uncredited)
Traditional spiritual
Played on the harmonium by Madame Sul-Te-Wan and sung
by Jess Lee Brooks and the churchgoers
See more »

Frequently Asked Questions

See more (Spoiler Alert!) »

User Reviews

The Perfect Film?
4 December 2004 | by (Studio City, CA) – See all my reviews

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.


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