7.9/10
22,621
151 user 102 critic

Sullivan's Travels (1931)

Not Rated | | Adventure, Comedy, Drama | 6 February 1942 (USA)
Trailer
1:51 | Trailer
A director of escapist films goes on the road as a hobo to learn about life, which gives him a rude awakening.

Director:

Preston Sturges

Writer:

Preston Sturges
Reviews
2 wins. See more awards »

Videos

Photos

Learn more

More Like This 

The Lady Eve (1941)
Certificate: Passed Comedy | Romance
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.8/10 X  

A trio of classy card sharks targets the socially awkward heir to brewery millions for his money, until one of them falls in love with him.

Director: Preston Sturges
Stars: Barbara Stanwyck, Henry Fonda, Charles Coburn
Certificate: Passed Comedy | Romance
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.5/10 X  

An inventor needs cash to develop his big idea. His wife, who loves him, decides to raise it for him by divorcing him and marrying a millionaire.

Director: Preston Sturges
Stars: Claudette Colbert, Joel McCrea, Mary Astor
Certificate: Passed Comedy | War
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8.3/10 X  

During the Nazi occupation of Poland, an acting troupe becomes embroiled in a Polish soldier's efforts to track down a German spy.

Director: Ernst Lubitsch
Stars: Carole Lombard, Jack Benny, Robert Stack
Certificate: Passed Comedy
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.4/10 X  

Dan McGinty has great success in his chosen field of crooked politics, but he endangers it all in one crazy moment of honesty.

Director: Preston Sturges
Stars: Brian Donlevy, Muriel Angelus, Akim Tamiroff
Certificate: Passed Comedy | War
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.7/10 X  

Woodrow is discharged from the military for hay fever, but fabricates receiving a heroic honorable discharge before returning home.

Director: Preston Sturges
Stars: Eddie Bracken, Ella Raines, Raymond Walburn
Comedy | Romance | War
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.6/10 X  

After an all-night send-off party for the troops, a small-town girl wakes up to find herself married and pregnant, but with no memory of her husband's identity.

Director: Preston Sturges
Stars: Eddie Bracken, Betty Hutton, Diana Lynn
Certificate: Passed Crime | Drama | Film-Noir
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.5/10 X  

When assassin Philip Raven shoots a blackmailer and his beautiful female companion dead, he is paid off in marked bills by his treasonous employer who is working with foreign spies.

Director: Frank Tuttle
Stars: Alan Ladd, Veronica Lake, Robert Preston
Comedy | Drama | Romance
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8/10 X  

A scatterbrained socialite hires a vagrant as a family butler - but there's more to Godfrey than meets the eye.

Director: Gregory La Cava
Stars: William Powell, Carole Lombard, Alice Brady
Certificate: Passed Comedy | Romance
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.4/10 X  

When the co-workers of an ambitious clerk trick him into thinking he has won $25,000 in a slogan contest, he begins to use the money to fulfill his dreams. What will happen when the ruse is discovered?

Director: Preston Sturges
Stars: Dick Powell, Ellen Drew, Raymond Walburn
The Thin Man (1934)
Comedy | Crime | Mystery
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8/10 X  

Former detective Nick Charles and his wealthy wife Nora investigate a murder case, mostly for the fun of it.

Director: W.S. Van Dyke
Stars: William Powell, Myrna Loy, Maureen O'Sullivan
Comedy | Romance
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.7/10 X  

Unfounded suspicions lead a married couple to begin divorce proceedings, whereupon they start undermining each other's attempts to find new romance.

Director: Leo McCarey
Stars: Irene Dunne, Cary Grant, Ralph Bellamy
Comedy | Drama | Romance
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8.1/10 X  

Two employees at a gift shop can barely stand each other, without realizing that they are falling in love through the post as each other's anonymous pen pal.

Director: Ernst Lubitsch
Stars: Margaret Sullavan, James Stewart, Frank Morgan
Edit

Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
Joel McCrea ... John L. Sullivan
Veronica Lake ... The Girl
Robert Warwick ... Mr. LeBrand
William Demarest ... Mr. Jones
Franklin Pangborn ... Mr. Casalsis
Porter Hall ... Mr. Hadrian
Byron Foulger ... Mr. Valdelle
Margaret Hayes ... 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
Edit

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:

A Happy-Go Lucky Hitch-Hiker on the Highway to happiness! He wanted to see the world . . . but wound up in Lover's Lane! See more »


Certificate:

Not Rated | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

View content advisory »
Edit

Details

Country:

USA

Language:

English

Release Date:

6 February 1942 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

Sullivan's Travels See more »

Edit

Box Office

Budget:

$689,665 (estimated)

Cumulative Worldwide Gross:

$10,249
See more on IMDbPro »

Company Credits

Production Co:

Paramount Pictures See more »
Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

| (TV premiere)

Sound Mix:

Mono (Western Electric Mirrophonic Recording)

Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
See full technical specs »
Edit

Did You Know?

Trivia

The U.S. government's World War II Office of Censorship in New York formally disapproved exporting this film during wartime because of the "long sequence showing life in a prison chain gang which is most objectionable because of the brutality and inhumanity with which the prisoners are treated." This disapproval conformed with the department's policy of not exporting any film that could be turned into enemy propaganda. The department suggested deletions which would have made the picture acceptable under their guidelines; however, the producers declined this opportunity. See more »

Goofs

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

Quotes

John L. Sullivan: [to the girl] Why don't you go back to the car? You look as much like a boy as Mae West.
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 »

Connections

References The Kid (1921) 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 »

User Reviews

 
Reckless, tightrope masterpiece.
14 September 2000 | by the red duchessSee all my reviews

Sturges' most daringly double-edged film, laced with bitter ironies. It is also arguably the most audacious film in Hollywood's (mainstream) history, audacious because it takes the kinds of risks that can so easily fall flat on their face, and right until the final image, as Sturges becomes increasingly ambitious and multi-layered, you wonder how long he can keep it up without getting ridiculous. It never does, but the film is so full of contradictions, tensions, suppressions, clanging lurches in tone - 'Travels' is ostensibly a comedy, and one of Hollywood's best, but the last twenty minutes are truly painful to watch, harrowing and not at all funny.

The overriding source of tension, of course, is the film itself, the plot, and the emotions that are supposed to be elicited. It is very difficult, and frequently impossible to gauge the tone of any one scene. Sometimes this is straightforward, as when information is deliberately withheld from the audience, it is asked to make a judgement, and then shown to be wrong, as in the scenes where the studio moguls claim a background of deprivation (which is historically plausible). This kind of comedy is familiar enough.

But what about the later montage of Sullivan and the Girl experiencing the 'reality' of poverty - are these scenes supposed to be genuine representation of poverty? Are they part of a wider satire on pious films like 'Grapes of Wrath', which dubiously aestheticise poverty - there are a lot of Expressionistic flourishes in this sequence? Are they a kind of abstract purgatory through which Sullivan finds spiritual understanding?

There is a big difference between the representation of poverty in this sequence and the one where Sullivan is attacked and sent to prison. But is one more 'authentic' than the other - the second one bravely rejects the view of 'noble' poverty, shows how it dehumanises people, turns them instinctual and brutal; but it also provides a neat moral, which suggests that if you do somebody wrong, you will be (horribly) punished for it. This realism, therefore, is as contrived as the first. Is this Sturges' point, that the good intentions of realism are always tainted by ideological assumptions, patronising good-will, or motives of elevation. This sense of artifice, of a film comprised of varying self-reflexive modes rather than a plausible narrative, runs through 'Travels', with characters talking about the film they're in as a plot - in direst danger, Sullivan acknowledges the need for a helluva twist which duly arrives, filmed in silent slapstick with barely concealed Sturges contempt (and did his friends seem terribly put out by his death?).

This would seem to uphold 'Travels'' ostensible theme, its celebration of comedy as a sugar with which to sweeten the harshness of reality. This is a very cynical view of comedy, and a highly manipulative, conservative one - distract an unhappy populace from the injustice of their lives. The best comedies - from 'Sherlock Jr' and 'Modern Times' to 'Playtime' and 'The Discreet Charm of the Bourgeoisie' have always been about real life, encouraging their viewers to think harder about the society they live in, much more effectively than so-called naturalism.

'Travels' is no exception. It might be a celebration of comedy, but this is comedy a million miles from 'Ants in your Pants'. What other 40s film still manages to show the brutality of poverty, of the prison system, of race relations, the fate of young women in sexually voracious Hollywood (the Girl's ease with her body in the swimming pool scene speaks volumes), however we choose to read them? When Sullivan's determination at the end to continue making populist comedies is endorsed by the ringing laughter of the world's meek and suffering, the disjunction is grotesque. This is a man, on an airplane, completely removed from reality, surrounded by wealthy toadies. Those happy laughs could so easily be contemptuous guffaws, because what Sullivan wants to do, and Sturges hasn't, is hide the inequalities of capitalism, the system on which Hollywood thrives, and the flaws in which they would be only too happy to cover up with inanity. But to even suggest this is to fall into the 'Capra' trap mocked at the beginning.

This difficulty is what makes 'Travels' such a stunningly modern film - its shifts from sophisticated verbal wit to elaborate slapstick to blatant Carry On-like innuendo (the matronly sister dusting the bedpost after seeing a sweating, shirtless Sullivan work) to tragedy to hallucination and dream to satire foreshadows Melville and the New Wave, while the privileged rich man who cannot escape Hollywood would transmute into the guests who can't leave the house, or can't get dinner in later Bunuel films; or the film that begins with an end. The opening sequence takes off 'Citizen Kane'. The deadpan genderplay is quietly gobsmacking, and Veronica Lake as a (gorgeous) tramp would be alluded to by Jeanne Moreau in 'Jules et JIm'. But the joys are all Sturges', as he democratises comedy (see again that swimming pool sequence); I love in particular those glorious supporting actors: my favourite being the immortal Eric Blore and Robert Greig as Sullivan's servants.


78 of 102 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you? | Report this
Review this title | See all 151 user reviews »

Contribute to This Page

Free Movies and TV Shows You Can Watch Now

On IMDb TV, you can catch Hollywood hits and popular TV series at no cost. Select any poster below to play the movie, totally free!

Browse free movies and TV series



Recently Viewed