Sullivan's Travels (1941)

Not Rated  |   |  Adventure, Comedy, Drama  |  December 1941 (USA)
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Ratings: 8.1/10 from 17,010 users  
Reviews: 128 user | 108 critic

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 overview, first billed only:
Robert Warwick ...
Mr. Jones
Mr. Casalsis
Porter Hall ...
Mr. Hadrian
Byron Foulger ...
Mr. Valdelle
Margaret Hayes ...
Robert Greig ...
Sullivan's Butler
Eric Blore ...
Sullivan's Valet
Torben Meyer ...
The Doctor
Victor Potel ...
Richard Webb ...
Radio Man
Charles R. Moore ...
Colored Chef (as Charles Moore)
Almira Sessions ...


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 <>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


Veronica Lake's on the take. See more »


Not Rated | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:





Release Date:

December 1941 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Sullivans Reisen  »

Box Office


$689,665 (estimated)

Company Credits

Production Co:

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs


| (TV premiere)

Sound Mix:

(Western Electric Mirrophonic Recording)

Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
See  »

Did You Know?


The movie's poster was as #19 of "The 25 Best Movie Posters Ever" by Premiere. See more »


In the scene where Sullivan is in bed with a cold the girl sits next to him on the bed, she shifts between being at higher level with him and then same level as him from shot to shot. (This happens more than once in same scene.) See more »


John L. Sullivan: I want this picture to be a commentary on modern conditions. Stark realism. The problems that confront the average man!
LeBrand: But with a little sex in it.
John L. Sullivan: A little, but I don't want to stress it. I want this picture to be a document. I want to hold a mirror up to life. I want this to be a picture of dignity! A true canvas of the suffering of humanity!
LeBrand: But with a little sex in it.
John L. Sullivan: [reluctantly] With a little sex in it.
Hadrian: How 'bout a nice musical?
See more »

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 »


References Island of Lost Souls (1932) See more »


Let My People Go
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

A celebration of the healing power of comedy
8 February 2001 | by (Minneapolis, Minnesota) – See all my reviews

As a professional circus clown for twenty years,I think that Sullivan's Travels is the best, most lucid, explanation of what comedy is all about that has ever been made. Sure it's hokey, corny, contrived, and meandering. But so is all great comedy, from Shakespeare to Seinfeld! If you want your comedy to be tightly constructed, meaningful, unambiguous, and logical, then you do not want comedy at all -- you want some stuffy college professor's idea of What is Comedy for a term paper.

The glorious truth is that you cannot domesticate great comedy. It occurs on no regular basis, from no reliable source, and is accountable to no one for what it says and does. Preston Sturges wanted to make that point in Sullivans Travels and he does so exceedingly well with everything from slapstick frolics in the land cruiser to fleas in the bed to hectoring soliloquies about poverty from the butler.

Ten years before Chaplin tried to explain the same thing in his movie Limelight, Sturges tells a tale meant to both hearten and cozen us. It heartens us to know that a cynical, moneygrubbing place like Hollywood will continue to spin out comedies, because they make money. And it cozens us into thinking there is something magical about comedians. Anyone who has ever actually known or been married to a professional funnyperson knows they are by turns grumpy, lazy, tempermental, stubborn, and always insecure. Not the life of the party. But so what? They're clowns, god bless 'em, and that's all that counts.

You'll never understand the craft of humor if you don't watch, and love, Preston Sturges Sullivan's Travels!

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