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Sullivans Travels

Joel McCrea , Veronica Lake , Preston Sturges    Unrated   DVD
4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (51 customer reviews)
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Writer-director Preston Sturges's third feature, 1941's Sullivan's Travels, remains the antic auteur's most ambitious screen effort. Having added the producer's stripe to his duties, Sturges combines breezy romantic comedy, arch Hollywood satire, and social essay into a single, screwball story line.

The titular pilgrim is John L. Sullivan (Joel McCrea), an Ivy League grad who's enjoyed a meteoric rise as the director behind escapist movies like Ants in Your Pants of 1938, but is now determined to raise his sights toward more exalted, serious-minded cinematic art. His proposed breakthrough, portentously titled O Brother, Where Art Thou?, elicits a studio response closer to "Oh, brother," given the director's utter lack of first-hand experience on the wrong side of the tracks.

Instead of capitulating, Sullivan sets off disguised as a tramp, ready to meet life's crueler lessons face-to-face--albeit followed at a discreet distance by a motor home filled with studio handlers and reporters. His ludicrous odyssey may give the boy director no real insight, but it gives Sturges the chance to inject some reliably fine gags and a romantic subplot featuring the luminous Veronica Lake. It's at this juncture that Sturges the writer's darker objective throws a jolting shift in tone. Suffice it to say that just when a comic, upbeat denouement seems imminent, Sullivan travels instead from the sunlit California of the comedy's early reels toward a darker, relentlessly downbeat world influenced more by the social realism of the movies the hero desperately wants to make. By the final reel, Sturges has flirted with real tragedy, turning his conclusion into a meditation on his own seemingly carefree, dizzily comic art. --Sam Sutherland

Special Features

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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Customer Reviews

Most helpful customer reviews
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars "Sullivan's Travels" - A Life Changing Experience July 31 2003
By 5
Format:DVD
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! Between "Sullivan's Travels", "Lust For Life" and Hermann Hesse novels, my character was set. Ah, youth! Oh, brother, where art thou?
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5.0 out of 5 stars exceded expectations of quality June 14 2014
By rob
Format:DVD|Verified Purchase
Brilliant copy, new and in box. Was a bit slow ariing, 7 days instead of express. Well worth the wait
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5.0 out of 5 stars A Preston Sturges classic Jan. 1 2014
Format:DVD|Verified Purchase
Another classic flic, "O Brother, Where Art Thou?" drew inspiration from this Preston Sturges film. Funny and self-aware with interesting characters.
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4.0 out of 5 stars Sullivan's Travels Dec 16 2013
Format:DVD|Verified Purchase
Story could also have been entitled "Sullivan's Education". Take movie maker to the people to find out what they want!
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5.0 out of 5 stars Romantic situation comedy? Oct. 22 2013
By bernie TOP 100 REVIEWER
Format:DVD
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?" to soothe his social conscience and make a few bucks on the side.
On his first foray into the world of the forgotten man he barely escapes captivity and encounters The Girl (Veronica Lake). In his attempt to repay her kindness Sully's sojourn is foiled.
Will he complete his plan and/or will he find what he is really looking for?
Aside from the fun of watching the interaction between the different characters we may come away with an insight that can apply to today.

Criterion Collection: I Married a Witch ~ Veronica Lake[Blu-ray] [Import]
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5.0 out of 5 stars A Review for Sullivan's Travels Dec 28 2003
Format:DVD
Directed by Preston Sturges in 1941, this classic screwball comedy with a message is definitely one worth watching. The film opens with famous Hollywood director, John Sullivan, trying to persuade his bosses to let him make a picture about poverty, O Brother, Where Are Thou? His producers proceed to ridicule him about being privileged and that he knows nothing about troubles. They tell him how they had to grow up selling newspapers to get through college and having to support a widowed mother and three sisters and two brothers. Sullivan realizes they have a point and decides to set out to find some trouble. Of course, as soon as Sullivan leaves the office, the bosses confess they were lying about their troubles, adding a bit of comic relief.
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.
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4.0 out of 5 stars A MOVIE THAT COMBINES COMEDY AND DRAMA. July 27 2003
Format:DVD
"Sullivan's Travels" tells the story of director John L. Sullivan (Joel McCrea), who is very famous thanks to his mainstream comedy movies. But now he is tired of making shallow comedies, and decides to start a career of more serious movies. However, Sullivan thinks that because during all his life he has enjoyed special privileges, he doesn't actually know what is the suffering, and he is unable of make a serious social statement in his upcoming film.
So he now decides to hit the road, disguised as a tramp, and live in those conditions for a few months, and to experiment in his own flesh the lack of luxuries. In the road he meets "The Girl" (Veronica Lake), an unemployed actress who knows what is to live in those conditions, so now she decides to help him with his experiment. However, not everything is going to be that easy, because in their adventure they are going to find several obstacles that could make difficult to complete Sullivan's movie.
"Sullivan's Travels" is a very amusing movie, the director Preston Sturges did a good job, he created scenes where the comedy and the drama are mixed together with satisfying results. The movie has interesting situations, because it has an intelligent story and good performances. Also, "Sullivan's Travels" benefits with the presence of the elegant Veronica Lake
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5.0 out of 5 stars One of my all time favorite films May 28 2003
Format:DVD
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 any comedy director has ever gone on in a short period of time. This film contains a great deal more slapstick than his other films, and a great deal more social satire. Sturges doesn't quite mean it as a "message" picture, but in the end it does have overtones of an apologia pro vita sua as a comedy director. Sturges wants to say that he is a comedy director, and he isn't going to apologize for it, because making people laugh in hard times is one of the highest functions of art.
SULLIVAN'S TRAVELS is one of two superb comedies that Joel McCrea made with Sturges, the other being the equally outstanding THE PALM BEACH STORY. As most are aware, McCrea plays director John L. Sullivan, who has made his mark in Hollywood directing lightweight comedies, such as the "Ants in Your Pants" series. But now he wants to make a serious, "meaningful" film: O Brother! Where Art Thou? The studio head points out that Sullivan knows nothing about real life, and conceding his point without giving up his intentions, Sullivan decides to hit the road and live as a hobo in order to discover real life.
Like nearly all Sturges films (at least before his rapid and dramatic decline in late 1944), this film features an absolutely outstanding cast. His best films seem to feature a cast with literally dozens of great character actors, and this is no exception. Most of the Sturges regulars are here, like William Demarest and Robert Warwick, along with a host of others whose faces will be familiar to any Sturges fan, even if the names are not.
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