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Sullivan's Travels (1941)

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No Score Yet...

Average Rating: N/A
Critic Reviews: 3
Fresh: 3 | Rotten: 0

audience

90

liked it
Average Rating: 4.2/5
User Ratings: 8,183

My Rating

Movie Info

In Preston Sturges' classic comedy of Depression-era America, filmmaker John L. Sullivan (Joel McCrea), fed up with directing profitable comedies like "Ants in Your Plants of 1939," is consumed with the desire to make a serious social statement in his upcoming film, "Oh Brother, Where Art Thou?" Unable to function in the rarefied atmosphere of Hollywood, Sullivan decides to hit the road, disguised as a tramp, and touch base with the "real" people of America. But Sullivan's studio transforms his

Aug 21, 2001

Paramount Pictures

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All Critics (33) | Top Critics (4) | Fresh (30) | Rotten (0) | DVD (19)

Sturges' dialog is trenchant, has drive, possesses crispness and gets the laughs where that is desired.

June 27, 2007 Full Review Source: Variety
Variety
Top Critic IconTop Critic

A dubious proposition, but in Sturges's hands a charming one, filled out by his unparalleled sense of eccentric character.

June 27, 2007 Full Review Source: Chicago Reader
Chicago Reader
Top Critic IconTop Critic

Sullivan's Travels is a gem, an almost serious comedy not taken entirely seriously, with wonderful dialogue, eccentric characterisations, and superlative performances throughout.

February 9, 2006 Full Review Source: Time Out
Time Out
Top Critic IconTop Critic

Sullivan's Travels is one of the screen's more 'significant' films.

May 20, 2003
New York Times
Top Critic IconTop Critic

a highly satirical piece, poking fun at Hollywood itself and showing how out of touch it can be

April 18, 2012 Full Review Source: 7M Pictures
7M Pictures

It is, quite simply, a dazzling piece of filmmaking.

October 19, 2009 Full Review Source: Laramie Movie Scope
Laramie Movie Scope

Not remotely a defense of junk, but it does respect comedy as a force for escapism.

February 3, 2009 Full Review Source: eFilmCritic.com
eFilmCritic.com

...just not as funny as its choir of supporters have made it out to be.

January 8, 2007 Full Review Source: Filmcritic.com
Filmcritic.com

A delicious tragi-comedy set during the Great Depression.

April 1, 2005 Full Review Source: Ozus' World Movie Reviews
Ozus' World Movie Reviews

Forgotten for years along with its maker, writer/director Preston Sturges, Sullivan's Travels has only recently enjoyed a comeback and induction into classic status.

March 7, 2005 Full Review Source: Combustible Celluloid
Combustible Celluloid

Its message drags it from the front guard of Sturges's work, but it shines nonetheless.

July 8, 2004
F5 (Wichita, KS)

The genius of this classic opening scene is that Sullivan's Travels is both screwball comedy and socially conscious melodrama — as well as a satire of socially conscious melodrama, and a serious apologetic for crowd-pleasing comedy.

September 12, 2003 Full Review Source: Decent Films Guide
Decent Films Guide

...a plot with more curves than Veronica Lake.

March 10, 2003 Full Review Source: Austin Chronicle
Austin Chronicle

Generally considered Preston Sturges' best film -- almost certainly his most personal.

October 17, 2002 Full Review Source: Mountain Xpress (Asheville, NC)
Mountain Xpress (Asheville, NC)

A full-blooded thesis deriding the boring message film.

August 9, 2002 Full Review Source: Arizona Daily Star
Arizona Daily Star

It's no wonder that the film remains hugely influential to this day.

March 5, 2002 Full Review Source: MovieMartyr.com
MovieMartyr.com

I was impressed by the almost self-referential nature.

February 28, 2002 Full Review Source: Goatdog's Movies
Goatdog's Movies

...it ends up coming down solidly on the side of laughs (thanks to writer/director Preston Sturges), beauty (thanks to Veronica Lake) and self-effacing modesty (thanks to Joel McCrea).

November 6, 2001 Full Review Source: Movieline
Movieline

...a search for the director's meaning in his work and a reassuring statement about Sturges's own understanding of his art.

September 17, 2001
Movie Metropolis

A work of great depth and humanity that also happens to be very funny.

August 16, 2001
Q Network Film Desk

It's a great comedy, with a message that works in context, the flophouses of life's downside contrasting with Hollywood's absurd hedonism.

January 1, 2000 Full Review Source: BBC.com
BBC.com

Audience Reviews for Sullivan's Travels

A wealthy hollywood director gets more than he bargained for when he goes out looking for "trouble" so as to better identify with the common man (and make a better film dramatizing their plight). The director's name is Sullivan (Joel McCrea), and he is more known for goofy slapstick than dramatic human interest. He believes himself to be a noble pursuer of truth and justice, but as his butler Burrows points out, dressing up as a bum and hoboing around is something "only the morbid rich would find glamorous". At first, the studio is intent on following him around (in a giant bus, no less) to document this adventure, but he quickly loses them after making a deal to meet up with them later. Not long after, he's taken in by a girl (Veronica Lake) who buys him a ham-and-egg breakfast as she's on her way east, back home. Sullivan is attracted to her and wants to make a movie with her, only he's still trying to maintain his incognito status, so as a compromise, he goes home and steals his own car so as to give her a ride to whereever she wants to go ("Chicago", she says). After she discovers his ruse, the girl decides to go along with him on his adventure ("How can I be alone if you're with me?" he asks, but to no avail), and the two delve right into the seedy underbelly of America's misfortunes. Riding the rails, sleeping in flophouses, looking for handouts, as if some great and noble purpose could be distilled from abject misery. But as with other martyrs, that nobility is never pure, as they could escape their condition at anytime they so choose, he's never really down and out, he still has his millions waiting for him at home, and so the deception is never fully realized as he knows who he is. Ah, but after he goes back to being Sullivan, and he's clunked over the head and robbed by a hobo and then thrown onto a freight train, well only then does he come to realize the nature of being lowly and without friends. Sullivan comes to realize the irony of socially conscious films is that they do nothing for the people they purport to defend, that watching a film doesn't change anyone's plight. The best a film can hope to do for the lowest rungs of our society is take away the burden of life for a little while, take a person somewhere they've never been before, let them laugh and enjoy themselves, even if it's just for a little while. Throwing their poverty back up in their faces doesn't help them, not even a little bit.
April 10, 2013
Mr Awesome
Devon Bott

Super Reviewer

Sturges' insight about the relevance of humor in a dog-eat-dog world never gets old, mainly because his insight into humanity itself is spot on. And all his mainstays are here: crisp dialogue, vivid and far-reaching portrayals, a wide cross section of society, Hollywood w/o being Hollywood. And Veronica Lake, too!
April 22, 2012
ApeneckFletcher

Super Reviewer

Oh, this movie was hilarious! Some scenes may get a little too silly, but overall it works. I highly recommend this great screwball comedy.
October 3, 2010
ajv2688

Super Reviewer

Great film! This movie had really good shots that conveyed good acting, although over the top with dry wit and humor. Since I think that was the goal of this film, it did a pretty good job of it and I recommend this for anyone who is interested in older classics. I really did like the chemistry between the main characters and that seems hard to create in most films.
June 16, 2010
FireStormStudios

Super Reviewer

    1. The Girl: You've taken all the joy out of life. I was all through with this kind of stuff. I mean, I knew I'd never have it - but there was no envy in my heart. I'd found a friend who'd swipe a car to take me home..., now I'm right back where I started: just an extra-girl having breakfast with a director. Only I didn't used to have breakfast with them. Maybe that was my trouble.
    2. John L. Sullivan: Did they ever ask you to?
    3. The Girl: No
    4. John L. Sullivan: Well then don't pat yourself on the back.
    5. The Girl: Take me with you.
    6. John L. Sullivan: What?
    – Submitted by Christopher B (17 months ago)
    1. The Girl: I'm sorry I pushed you in the water too.
    2. John L. Sullivan: I probably needed it.
    3. The Girl: You certainly did.
    4. John L. Sullivan: Did I?
    5. The Girl: I didn't mind you. In fact, I had kind of a yin for you.
    6. John L. Sullivan: You have?
    7. The Girl: Not in that thing. I liked you better as a tramp.
    8. John L. Sullivan: Well I can't help the kind of people you like.
    – Submitted by Christopher B (17 months ago)
    1. The Girl: Where's the swimming pool, you must have a swimming pool.
    – Submitted by Christopher B (17 months ago)
    1. Mr. Lebrand: Get me a copy of that "Oh brother, where art thou!",I guess I'll have to read it now. Make that two copies! Why should I have to suffer alone?
    – Submitted by Christopher B (17 months ago)
    1. John L. Sullivan: He gets a bit gruesome every once in a while.
    2. Sullivan's Valet: Yes, always reading books, sir.
    – Submitted by Christopher B (17 months ago)
    1. John L. Sullivan: There's a lot to be said for making people laugh. Did you know that's all some people have? It isn't much, but it's better than nothing in this cockeyed caravan. Boy!
    – Submitted by Chris P (3 years ago)
View all quotes (6)

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