Sullivan's Travels (1941)




Critic Consensus: No consensus yet.

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 … More

Rating: Unrated
Genre: Drama, Action & Adventure, Romance, Classics, Comedy
Directed By:
Written By: Preston Sturges
In Theaters:
On DVD: Aug 21, 2001
Paramount Pictures


as John L. Sullivan

as The Girl

as Mr. Lebrand

as Mr. Casalais

as Mr. Jones

as Mr. Hadrian

as Mr. Valdelle

as Secretary

as Secretary

as Sullivan's Butler

as Sullivan's Valet

as The Doctor

as Cameraman

as Radio Man

as Miz Zeffie

as Tough Chauffeur

as Old Tramp

as The Trombenick

as The Mister

as Trusty

as Mrs. Sullivan

as The Mister

as Mr. Carson

as Counterman

as Desk Sergeant

as Preacher

as Counterman

as One-Legged Bum

as Cop in slums

as Railroad Information...

as Harmonica Player

as Desk Sergeant

as Black Preacher

as Entertainer in Air-R...

as Studio Director

as Man at Railroad Shac...

as Public Defender

as Mission Cook

as Yard Man

as Entertainer in Hospi...

as Truck driver

as Harmonica player

as Railroad Clerk
Show More Cast

News & Interviews for Sullivan's Travels

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Critic Reviews for Sullivan's Travels

All Critics (34) | Top Critics (4)

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

Full Review… | June 27, 2007
Top Critic

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

Full Review… | June 27, 2007
Chicago Reader
Top Critic

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

Full Review… | February 9, 2006
Time Out
Top Critic

... the movie road-trips from its scripter's typical cynicality to finding an assured kind of resonance in the third act in the most unlikely of places.

Full Review… | June 12, 2015

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

Full Review… | April 18, 2012
7M Pictures

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

Full Review… | October 19, 2009
Laramie Movie Scope

Audience Reviews for Sullivan's Travels


Preston Sturges knows that every joke has a victim and decidedly makes him go through the hardships of poverty and anonymity for our own amusement.
The chemistry between Joel McCrea and Veronica Lake is the heart of this hilarious and life affirming meta-cinematic exercise.

Pierluigi Puccini

Super Reviewer

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.

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!

Kevin M. Williams

Super Reviewer

Sullivan's Travels Quotes

– Submitted by Kevin R (45 days ago)
– Submitted by Kevin R (45 days ago)
– Submitted by Christopher B (2 years ago)
– Submitted by Christopher B (2 years ago)

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