Sullivan's Travels (1941)


The absolutely essential Preston Sturges wrote and directed this sly and hilarious Hollywood comedy. Joel McCrea is a movie director who resolves to begin making only serious and meaningful pictures; to learn about the suffering in the world outside the movie studio, he sets out to experience it for himself with a dime in his pocket and a hobo's clothes on his back. While he travels, he learns the real value of entertainment, whether "serious" or not (to illustrate the point, the movie switches from breezy farce to something far more desperate at the two-thirds mark). He also falls in love with Veronica Lake, who defines "sultry" even when she's dressed as a boy. The film may have been something of a manifesto for Sturges, whose own specialty was smart, meaningful pictures, naturally -- the ones that make people laugh.
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Reviews by Bryant Frazer