Sullivan's Travels

Sullivan's Travels

DVD - 2001
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A successful Hollywood director disguises himself as a bum and sets off to see America from the bottom up. In the midst of the brutality and despair, he makes a valuable discovery-- that what the downtrodden need most is laughter.

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miaone
Oct 13, 2017

This is supposed to be the favorite film of Don Eppes, FBI agent and older brother of a math genius in that fine TV series, "Numbers." I've tried twice to like this movie, but I just don't. It's like so many b & w movies, when seen in current times, it's predictable and the characters seem two dimensional. The humor is not funny, but forced. Did grown men really laugh at those dumb cartoons in the 1930's? The plights of poor people are trivialized by the very characters who're are portrayed as trying to understand them. Women and their lives are stereotyped. I could go on but the movie isn't worth it, in my opinion.

c
Charlie68
Jun 19, 2017

A good look into the life of hobos in the thirties.

n
Nursebob
Dec 05, 2014

Preston Sturges’ sparkling satire on class, privilege, and artistic conceit proves to be one of the smartest comedies to emerge from the 40’s with sharp insights that still ring true today. When millionaire director John Sullivan (western mainstay Joel McCrea proving his versatility) decides to helm the definitive film about social inequality and the plight of the poor he is abruptly reminded that his privileged upbringing negates all attempts at empathy with America’s downtrodden despite his fiery rhetoric. So, in an attempt to connect with the lower classes, Sullivan borrows a hobo outfit from the wardrobe department and sets out on the road with ten cents in his pocket. But with a bus full of aides and reporters (not to mention personal physician and chef) keeping pace right behind him Sullivan soon finds that all roads lead right back to Hollywood. Eventually fleeing his studio watchdogs he reluctantly teams up with a disillusioned wannabe actress (an endearing Veronica Lake) and together they discover all the beauty and ugliness life without hope has to offer. Of course his multi-million dollar bank account is only a phone call away rendering their journey somewhat sanitized—until one final Christ-like attempt to help the poor sets Sullivan on a course he could never have imagined, giving him a big fat dose of “reality” in the process. Brimming with witty exchanges and sardonic irony, and just a touch of uplifting slapstick, Sturges’ brilliant film plays with its audience even as it appears to mock itself—one key scene involving convicts shuffling into a backwoods church while an all-black congregation solemnly croons “Let My People Go” is so over-the-top you begin to wonder…are we still watching Sturges’ movie or is this the movie Sullivan intends to make? But then they all sit down to watch a Disney cartoon and the answer becomes readily apparent. Despite a tidy little “happily ever after” ending á la Frank Capra (more irony?) there are still plenty of clever barbs here—and even more treats—to keep you smiling throughout.

m
Monolith
Nov 30, 2014

A very thought provoking & entertaining film. I selected this as one of the select few films my library has starring the delightful (and unfortunately tragic) actress Veronica Lake, and I was pleasantly surprised with the enjoyable content.

roadshowrigoletto Oct 11, 2011

Ah, yes, Veronica Lake. That's about all I have to say on that subject, so let's get something said about the film itself. A thought? I like old cartoons, having a certain affection for the likes of Betty Boop and such, but the laughter of the church audience just seems forced. None of those old cartoons was that funny. It seems that the film is at such great pains to deny the validity of Sullivan's initial premise that it misses opportunities to actually examine the premise. Of course, Hollywood was going to see a value in presenting that which Hollywood does best: comforting illusions. Preston Sturges is pleased with himself? How surprising that is. Oh, and don't think I dislike him for it. It's just human. Of course, there is another film of that era, "My Man Godfrey" that does do what Sturges was reluctant to do.

c
c_anderson
Jan 13, 2011

There is some incredibly funny dialogue, as well as some inspired, silent-film sequences. The third act feels contrived and message-heavy, however.

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