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 road numbers on the racing locomotive in the opening scene are reversed, indicating the film has been flipped. See more »
You see, sir, rich people and theorists - who are usually rich people - think of poverty in the negative, as the lack of riches - as disease might be called the lack of health. But it isn't, sir. Poverty is not the lack of anything, but a positive plague, virulent in itself, contagious as cholera, with filth, criminality, vice and despair as only a few of its symptoms. It is to be stayed away from, even for purposes of study. It is to be shunned.
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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.
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