A Private War
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View All Sullivan's Travels News
All Critics (32)
| Top Critics (3)
| Fresh (32)
| Rotten (0)
| DVD (5)
Sturges' dialog is trenchant, has drive, possesses crispness and gets the laughs where that is desired.
A dubious proposition, but in Sturges's hands a charming one, filled out by his unparalleled sense of eccentric character.
Sullivan's Travels is a gem, an almost serious comedy not taken entirely seriously, with wonderful dialogue, eccentric characterisations, and superlative performances throughout.
Hard-nosed, farcical, tender, critical, satirical, elitist and populist all at once.
... 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.
a highly satirical piece, poking fun at Hollywood itself and showing how out of touch it can be
It is, quite simply, a dazzling piece of filmmaking.
Not remotely a defense of junk, but it does respect comedy as a force for escapism.
...just not as funny as its choir of supporters have made it out to be.
A delicious tragi-comedy set during the Great Depression.
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.
Its message drags it from the front guard of Sturges's work, but it shines nonetheless.
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.
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.
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!
Oh, this movie was hilarious! Some scenes may get a little too silly, but overall it works. I highly recommend this great screwball comedy.
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