Sullivan's Travels Reviews

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Super Reviewer
½ August 15, 2007
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.
Mr Awesome
Super Reviewer
April 10, 2013
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.
Super Reviewer
½ July 14, 2007
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!
Super Reviewer
½ September 5, 2010
Oh, this movie was hilarious! Some scenes may get a little too silly, but overall it works. I highly recommend this great screwball comedy.
Super Reviewer
June 16, 2010
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.
bbcfloridabound
Super Reviewer
December 25, 2009
This is about the best Black & White Movie I have seen in sometime. Veronica Lake was nothing short of great and beautiful, her acting couldn't be touched by any other actress in this film. She was a beautiful lady. This movie starts out and one wonders if they are in for a slow boring film, but within 15 minutes it picks up and what we have is a wonderful story for the 1941 time frame. Joel McCrea plays a big time movie producer who is going to put out a movie about hard times, but what does he know about hard times, so he goes on the road as a hobo, meets Veronica Lake and she joins him on his quest. All in all it makes for a pretty good movie, worth the rental, if your a Pre 1960 film collector this one needs to be in it, no big name stars but an excellent movie overall. 4 Stars
Super Reviewer
July 8, 2007
John 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!"
Super Reviewer
June 14, 2008
Scratch anything I've said before, Veronica Lake is THE poster girl for adorability. Preston Sturges sure knows how to pick his leading ladies. Very, very good satire with a solid message and well-timed transitions. I love films that show versatility.
Super Reviewer
½ December 17, 2007
The way "Sullivan's Travels" shifts effortlessly back and forth in tone, from light to dark and back again, is hugely impressive. The Coen brothers borrowed more than just the title of the project Joel McCrea's film director is desperate to make, "O, Brother, Where Art Thou"; the figure of the artist, struggling against the Hollywood studio system to make a universally important statement, is clearly echoed in "Barton Fink". It's not my favourite Sturges movie but it's still delightful. Veronica Lake is adorable in this.
jjnxn
Super Reviewer
½ June 16, 2007
Humor and sorrow mixed perfectly. Veronica Lake radiates star quality and talent, what a sad waste.
Super Reviewer
November 5, 2006
A great, great film. It starts off silly and light-hearted then eventually switches gears and gets genuinely ugly. And if you can take your eyes off Veronica Lake you've got serious problems...
Super Reviewer
September 19, 2011
I think the film Sullivan should've made after the end is the Coen Brothers version of O Brother, Where Art Thou?
Super Reviewer
½ February 21, 2007
I don't know much about the Coen Brothers to know if they claim Preston Sturges as a major influence on their work, but there seems to be a connection. They seem to be continuing the tradition of Hollywood outsiders making movies their own way, freely mixing comedy, drama, dark twisted moments, and a little romance. After all they made Oh Brother, Where Art Thou?, the movie that never gets made in this film.

I think I've only seen one other Sturges film, The Great McGinty, and I noticed social issues seem to be a favorite theme. He pokes fun at the Hollywood machine. There is lots of great dialog, some of which I didn't appreciate till I saw the clips again in a special feature doc. There are quite a few laughs, but it turns at times to thoughtful drama and a touch of romance. Then it also deals with the darker side of society, the danger of giving charity to the poor too freely, the treatment of chain gang prisoners, and a particularly grisly death for the time when this movie was made. The movie cautions against taking the art and social power of moving pictures too seriously.
PantaOz
Super Reviewer
July 12, 2014
This clichéd American comedy written and directed by Preston Sturges is trying to be too many things at once. It is classified as a comedy, has few elements of a drama and adventure, but mainly wants to be a satire about a movie director, played by Joel McCrea, who longs to make a socially relevant drama! The title is supposed to be a reference to Gulliver's Travels, the famous novel by Jonathan Swift about another satirical journey of self-discovery. I am not as impressed as most of the people who saw this movie, but it must be significant when it was selected for preservation in the United States National Film Registry by the Library of Congress as being "culturally, historically, or aesthetically significant."

The story of John L. Sullivan (Joel McCrea), a popular young Hollywood director fresh from a string of very profitable, but shallow comedies, tells his studio boss, Mr. Lebrand (Robert Warwick), that he is dissatisfied and wants his next project to be a serious exploration of the plight of the downtrodden, to be based on the socially-conscious novel O Brother, Where Art Thou? by Sinclair Beckstein. Of course, Lebrand prefers that he directs lucrative comedy instead. Idealistic Sullivan refuses to give in, and decides to go out in the world to "know trouble" first-hand as a tramp so he can return and make a film that truly depicts the sorrows of humanity. People close to him openly question the wisdom of his plan. With only 10 cents in his pocket, Sullivan dresses as a hobo and takes to the road. However, no matter how hard he tries, somehow he always ends up back in Hollywood. Luckily, in time of trouble, he meets a young failed actress (Veronica Lake, credited only as "The Girl") who had enough of Hollywood is contemplating quitting the business...

I understand why Sullivan's Travels was not as immediately successful at the box office as earlier Sturges films such as The Great McGinty and The Lady Eve, and also received a mixed critical reception - it is clearly divided into separate parts which I call the Yo-yo story (which helps the character to feel like a yo-yo, going back to the riches and then back to the street). At the time the reputation of the movie wasn't great and my biggest complaint even now is that lacks down to earth quality and sincerity which made the director's other three pictures a really enjoyable experience. But, it is good for relaxation and entertainment without too much thinking!
Super Reviewer
½ January 7, 2014
Its an interesting argument for comedy as the best form of escapism, especially since the film is anything but escapist. That finale is quite touching.
Super Reviewer
½ November 8, 2006
Good, but not a great classic movie like it could have been.
Super Reviewer
June 23, 2010
One of the best scripts that ever came out of Hollywood, Sullivan's Travels proves Preston Sturges was one of a kind.A perfect mix of comedy, drama and social commentary, this film is a must-see for anyone who really loves movies!
Super Reviewer
January 11, 2009
It's an okay film
Super Reviewer
½ September 11, 2007
"Where are we?"
"I don't know. Hollywood, I s'pose."
littlecharmer1959
Super Reviewer
August 29, 2008
Highly enjoyable film by Preston Sturges. There's witty dialogue and a great performance from McCrea, not so great a performance from Lake, but she still steals every scene with that beauty of hers.
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