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Sullivan's Travels (1941)

Not Rated | | Adventure, Comedy, Drama | 4 December 1941 (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
...
Byron Foulger ...
Mr. Valdelle
...
Secretary
Robert Greig ...
Sullivan's Butler
Eric Blore ...
Sullivan's Valet
Torben Meyer ...
The Doctor
Victor Potel ...
Cameraman
Richard Webb ...
Radio Man
Charles R. Moore ...
Colored Chef (as Charles Moore)
Almira Sessions ...
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

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Veronica Lake's on the take. See more »


Certificate:

Not Rated | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

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Details

Country:

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Release Date:

4 December 1941 (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

Not only was Veronica Lake pregnant during the making of this movie, she was between six and eight months pregnant. Production took place from June 12 to July 22 1941, and her daughter Elaine Detlie was born on August 21, 1941. The only other people involved in the production who knew of her condition were the costume designer, Edith Head, and Louise Sturges, wife of Preston. Miss Head designed costumes to hide the condition. Miss Lake was afraid that she would not be allowed to make the movie if her advanced state of pregnancy was revealed, owing to the physical demands of the role. See more »

Goofs

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 »

Quotes

Burrows: Good morning, sir.
Burrows: I don't like it at all, sir. Fancy dress, I take it?
John L. Sullivan: What's the matter with it?
Burrows: I have never been sympathetic to the caricaturing of the poor and needy, sir.
John L. Sullivan: Who's caricaturing?
John L. Sullivan: 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: 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.
John L. Sullivan: But I'm doing it ...
[...]
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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

Features Playful Pluto (1934) See more »

Soundtracks

Spring Song
(1844) (uncredited)
Written by Felix Mendelssohn-Bartholdy
Played as part of the score when Sullivan starts his experiment
Reprised when he starts a second time
See more »

Frequently Asked Questions

See more (Spoiler Alert!) »

User Reviews

 
Laughter, A Precious Commodity In This Cockeyed Caravan
11 May 2007 | by (Buffalo, New York) – See all my reviews

Sullivan's Travels is a twofer for me, it's my favorite Preston Sturges film and my favorite Joel McCrea one. It's an anti-message film, loaded with humor, with a most sublime message indeed.

Joel McCrea plays director John Sullivan who's tired of making silly comedies and musicals for his studio. He wants to make films of social significance with a message about the troubles in today's world.

Problem is that he doesn't know anything about poverty and unemployment, he's a rich kid who's been to boarding school. So off he sets, several times it turns out, to discover how the other half lives.

That last time he sets out is a bit unplanned and through a combination of circumstances he winds up on a prison chain gang in some southern state. He learns some really profound lessons from that experience.

But that's the serious side of Sullivan's Travels. Before that the film has some really gut splitting funny moments like McCrea learning about the speed of a whippet tank, being accused of stealing his own car. But my favorite is when he falls in the clutches of spinsters Elmira Sessions and Esther Howard. McCrea sets out to learn about poverty and deprivation and the two sisters see him as the answer to some poverty and deprivation they've been suffering for some time. Maybe the chain gang didn't look so bad.

Veronica Lake in her memoirs said that one of the films she enjoyed most was Sullivan's Travels where she plays an disillusioned Hollywood hopeful who befriends the tramp McCrea without knowing who he really is. The following year Lake would be paired with Alan Ladd who was closer to her height. She said McCrea was a kind and decent man and wonderful to work with. The disparity of their height was the source of some amusement and some problems for Preston Sturges. Lake was a tiny thing, it was why she was teamed with Alan Ladd, and McCrea was well over six feet tall. Check the shots of them together, very rarely will you see them standing side by side.

Sturges used a lot of his regular company of players. My two favorites in the supporting cast are Robert Grieg and Edward Blore who are McCrea's butler and valet. Both turn out to be wise men in their warnings to their boss about this folly he is undertaking.

It's been said that Sullivan's Travels is supposed to be the anti-Frank Capra film about messages. I'm not sure Capra saw it that way. If you look at the portion of the film when Sullivan falls into this unfamiliar universe of the chain gang, it's very similar to what George Bailey was experiencing in that parallel universe he was sent to in It's A Wonderful Life. I think Sturges and Capra would find a lot of common ground in the messages of It's A Wonderful Life and Sullivan's Travels.


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