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This masterpiece by Preston Sturges is perhaps the finest movie-about-a-movie ever made. Hollywood director Joel McCrea, tired of churning out lightweight comedies, decides to make O Brother, Where Art Thou-a serious, socially responsible film about human suffering. After his producers point out that he knows nothing of hardship, he hits the road as a hobo. He finds the lovely Veronica Lake-and more trouble than he ever dreamed of.
This Criterion Collection DVD uses filmmaker Preston Sturges's best-known film as a springboard to assess the filmmaker's life. For the film itself, there's a sparkling transfer of the comedy and some cagey commentary by modern-day humorists Christopher Guest and Michael McKean (among others). There's just the right number of production stills, backstage photos, publicity materials, and some intriguing storyboards and blueprints of how the film was shot. Even better is the material on Sturges himself. Included are radio segments of Sturges reciting poetry, singing songs, and interviewing Hedda Hopper--the kind of stuff that falls through the cracks on many definitive DVDs. A new interview with Sturges's last wife, Sandy, fills in some key points of the filmmaker's later years. Yet the crown jewel of this disc is the 76-minute documentary that won an Emmy for writer-critic Todd McCarthy (Visions of Light). "Preston Sturges: The Rise and Fall of an American Dreamer" is an entertaining tale of Sturges's intriguing life and how he redefined, forever, the role of the screenwriter in Hollywood. --Doug Thomas
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Top Customer Reviews
Director John L. Sullivan [Joel McCrea] is one of Hollywood s hottest talents, with an uncanny gift for getting audiences rolling in the aisles. But he’s dissatisfied: he wants to abandon comedy for Serious Statements, and buys the rights to celebrated social-realist novel “O Brother, Where Art Thou?”
To make his masterpiece as realistic as possible, John L. Sullivan naturally has to understand how the book’s downtrodden characters must have felt, so he takes to the road as a hobo, is taken under the wing of a failed actress [Veronica Lake], and learns several valuable home truths about the importance of not patronising his audience.
Writer-director Preston Sturges had an inspired run in the 1940s, turning out some of the funniest American comedies ever made [‘The Lady Eve,’ ‘The Palm Beach Story’ and ‘The Miracle of Morgan’s Creek’]. ‘SULLIVAN’S TRAVELS’ is one of his best: not just hilarious but also truly wise.
FILM FACT: The film features one of Veronica Lake's first leading roles. The title is a reference to Gulliver's Travels, the famous novel by satirist Jonathan Swift about another journey of self-discovery. In 1990, the 1941 film ‘SULLIVAN’S TRAVELS’ was selected for preservation in the United States National Film Registry by the Library of Congress as being "culturally, historically, or aesthetically significant."
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.Read more ›
Since the bosses feel it would be a liability to them if Sullivan were to travel all alone, they arrange for him to have an entourage following him, writing stories about his travels, and photographing his escapades. Sullivan starts out like a hobo walking alone on the side of the road. A young boy of 13 pulls up and offers him a ride. What next ensues is perhaps the funniest scene in the entire movie. The 13 year old wants to be a tank driver so he sets off like mad, driving insanely fast and wildly out of control. The entourage that has been following Sullivan in a massive bus tries desperately to keep up, hurdling its occupants all over the place. Most funny is the cook who ends up with his head sticking out of the roof of the bus and then falls back down to the floor and gets smacked on the head by the door of the oven. Then a bowl of what appears to be pancake batter falls on his head and he is a royal mess.Read more ›
Most recent customer reviews
Brilliant copy, new and in box. Was a bit slow ariing, 7 days instead of express. Well worth the waitPublished 20 months ago by rob
Another classic flic, "O Brother, Where Art Thou?" drew inspiration from this Preston Sturges film. Funny and self-aware with interesting characters.Published on Jan. 1 2014 by Moira Calder
Story could also have been entitled "Sullivan's Education". Take movie maker to the people to find out what they want!Published on Dec 16 2013 by Robert Matthews
John L. Lloyd 'Sully' Sullivan (Joel McCrea) a successful comedy movie producer gets it in his mind that comedy is shallow and want s to produce a ""O Brother, Where Art Thou? Read morePublished on Oct. 22 2013 by Bernie
Oh, this film is grand! First viewed it at about age 16, formative years & all. Made a great impact. Convinced me to pack off & live life as a hobo. Ah, the rootless life! Read morePublished on July 31 2003 by 5
"Sullivan's Travels" tells the story of director John L. Sullivan (Joel McCrea), who is very famous thanks to his mainstream comedy movies. Read morePublished on July 27 2003 by Alejandro Cortes
One of the great screen comedies, and one in a string of absolutely brilliant comedies that Preston Sturges made in the space of only a few years, unquestionably the hottest streak... Read morePublished on May 28 2003 by Robert Moore
For the life of me, I do not understand why nearly every intelligent film critic thinks this is a great movie. Read morePublished on May 17 2003
After a string of B-movies, legendary cool babe, Veronica Lake graduated to the big time in this screwball message picture by director, Preston Sturges. Read morePublished on April 22 2003 by Nix Pix