Sullivan is a successful, spoiled, and naive director of fluff films, with a heart-o-gold, who decides he wants to make a film about the troubles of the downtrodden poor. Much to the chagrin of his producers, he sets off in tramp’s clothing with a single dime in his pocket to experience poverty first-hand, and gets some reality shock.
Plot Keywords: national-film-registry / falling-from-a-train / director / actress / hobo
Taglines: A Happy-Go Lucky Hitch-Hiker on the Highway to happiness! He wanted to see the world . . . but wound up in Lover’s Lane!
Certificate: Australia:PG | Canada:PG (video rating) | Finland:K-16 | Japan:PG-12 (video rating) | Philippines:PG-13 (MTRCB) | Singapore:PG (video rating) | South Africa:PG (video rating) | South Korea:12 | Sweden:15 | Sweden:11 | United Kingdom:A | United Kingdom:PG | United States:Not Rated | United States:Approved | United States:TV-G (TV rating)
Cast: Joel McCrea , Veronica Lake , Robert Warwick , William Demarest , Franklin Pangborn , Porter Hall , Byron Foulger , Margaret Hayes , Robert Greig , Eric Blore , Torben Meyer , Victor Potel , Richard Webb , Charles R. Moore , Almira Sessions , Esther Howard , Frank Moran , Georges Renavent , Harry Rosenthal , Al Bridge , Jimmy Conlin , Jan Buckingham , Robert Winkler , Chick Collins , Jimmie Dundee , George Anderson , Myrtle Anderson , Elizabeth Ashley , Roscoe Ates , Ruth Bias , Ted Billings , Billy Bletcher , Monte Blue , Grace Boone , Ed Brady , Arie Lee Branche , William Broadus , Jess Lee Brooks , Anita Brown , Ruth Byers , Matilda Caldwell , Mark Carnahan , Chester Conklin , Laurence Criner , Frances Curry , Gladys Davis , James Davis , Edgar Dearing , Joan Douglas , A. Downs , Robert Dudley , LeRoy Edwards , Fay Fifer , Elizabeth Gray , Kit Guard , Jester Hairston , Chuck Hamilton , Inez Hatchett , Edward Hearn , Arthur Hoyt , Sheldon Jett , Payne B. Johnson , Bob Kortman , Pearl Lancaster , Cora Lang , Perc Launders , J. Farrell MacDonald , Pat McKee , Esther Michelson , Ray Milland , Frank Mills , Howard M. Mitchell , Bert Moorhouse , Paul Newlan , Artie Overstreet , Emory Parnell , War Perkins , Lon Poff , Gus Reed , Mary Reed , Cyril Ring , Willard Robertson , Paul Robeson , Dewey Robinson , Sheila Sheldon , Irving Smith , Preston Sturges , Madame Sul-Te-Wan , Julius Tannen , Lillian Taylor , Henry ‘Hot Shot’ Thomas , Maggie Thomas , Harry Tyler , Notable Vines , Cheryl Walker , Pat West , Jack Winslow , Bill Wolfe
Company: Paramount Pictures
Country: United States
Released Date: 05 Dec 1941 (Portugal)
Film Location: Paramount Ranch – 2813 Cornell Road, Agoura, California, USA
Runtime: 90 min
Soundmix: Mono (Western Electric Mirrophonic Recording)
Color: Black and White
Aspect Ratio: 1.37 : 1
Camera Obscura » After the opening credits, the film opens with the following statement.
"To the memory of those who made us laugh: the motley mountebanks, the clowns, the buffoons, in all times and in all nations whose efforts have lightened our burden a little, this picture is affectionately dedicated."
With this film, Preston Sturges made one of the smartest and most insightful comedies ever to come out of Hollywood, in which he especially held up the mirror to Tinseltown itself. A Hollywood variation on Gulliver's Travels, it's the tale of Hollywood director John Sullivan (Joel McCrea), tired of making Hollywood Fluff, who wants to branch out with a socially conscious epic, called "O Brother, Where Art Thou", and sets out to research the meaning of poverty. His studio bosses (very funny roles by Robert Warwick and Porter Hall) try to tell him it's a ridiculous idea but Sullivan insists, puts on some hobo clothes and sets out to see what it's like to experience poverty and suffering. The studio soon sees it as potential publicity stunt and sent an entire crew to follow him around during his trip.
Some very enjoyable references to socially conscious movie-making, to Ernst Lubitch in particular, make this particularly fun with some knowledge of the period and the films mentioned, albeit not necessary. And almost worth seeing alone for Veronica Lake's memorable performance as a failed starlet.
According to Sturges, the film did contain a little "message":
"SULLIVAN'S TRAVELS is the result of an urge, an urge to tell some of my fellow filmwrights that they were getting a little too deep-dish and to leave the preaching to the preachers."
By any means, he made a uniquely self-reflective comedy about Hollywood with wonderful characterizations and superlative performances. A brilliant satire with a "message" just as poignant as ever.
Camera Obscura — 9/10
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