Criterion Collection: Sullivan's Travels [DVD]  [Region 1] [US Import] [NTSC]
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It's when the situation turns bad, and from then on, that the film doesn't do as well as his brilliant-and-hilarious-all-the-way-through Hail the Conquering Hero and Miracle of Morgan's Creek. Sullivan's Travels goes for a big change of tone and goes out of its way to get "deep dish" despite Sturges intending the film as an answer to films that he perceived as too much so. And Joel McRea is just too Gary Cooper-stolid (his sneezes can't make up for this) compared for instance to what Eddie Bracken in the aforementioned movies could brought to the material.
Sullivan's Travels has the reputation as Sturges' best film, which is a shame, because it is the formal changes of tone that impresses more than much of the content. Hail the Conquering Hero, Miracle of Morgan's Creek and also the Palm Beach Story and Christmas in July, on the other hand, are Sturges at the top of his game in the wit and intelligence of his writing throughout.
Sturges has been extremely well served by Diane Jacobs' biography, a really excellent relating of Sturges' story, well above the nevertheless reasonable standard of the usual biographies of directors or stars.
John L. Sullivan (Joel McCrea) is a director, known for light comedies. His films made him very rich, but he aspires to do something more serious. He ultimately comes with an idea for a drama about people living on the margins and in order to "learn trouble first-hand", disguises himself as a tramp and gets on the road, without a penny in his pocket, to the greatest despair and concern of his producer, his agent - and also his butler. In one of his first forays he meets a failed actress (Veronica Lake), who left Hollywood after some bad experience, pennyless and bitter. We never know her name - she is even credited simply as "The Girl". And then the film really begins.
The most important precision to give about this film is that it is definitely NOT a comedy or at least it is not only a comedy. It certainly has comic moments and there is romance and romantic comedy in it too - but there is also A LOT of drama in it, sometimes very, very tough. There is also social criticism in it, quite obviously, but also quite a lot of reflection, on poor people, rich people, on the (mis)understanding of poor people by the rich people, about the nature of poverty and also, last but not least, about arrogant pretention of highly educated intellectual progressive people who think that they understand the world better than anybody else - when in fact frequently they have not the slightest clue... In fact this film will probably enrage most of "progressive" left wingers...)))
Veronica Lake, one of the most beautiful women who ever lived, is at her most gorgeous in this film and she plays very well.Read more ›
The central pairing here of McCrea’s earnest Sullivan and Veronica Lake’s aspiring young (and unnamed) actress is outstanding as the latter discovers the rebellious film-maker’s external guise as a hobo (as research for his new 'social conscience film’) is a cover for Sullivan’s established Hollywood director. Lake, who (of course) was later best known for roles as a sultry vamp, mixes this quality here with solid comic delivery to make her exchanges with McCrea one of the film’s many highlights.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
sturges again,and it has his stamp,clever,funny,and leaves you thinking.Published 2 months ago by Amazon Customer
I have never tired of watching this film.Funny and serious this Blu ray disc is as good as it gets.Published 3 months ago by Luke Weston
SULLIVAN’S TRAVELS [1941 / 2014] [Blu-ray] Veronica Lake’s on the take . . . and what a ride she takes on him!
Director John L. Read more
This DVD is from my older selection and has two stars in it from the fortees Joel McCrea and Veronica Lake, she is more known from her films with the late Alan Ladd and her peek a... Read morePublished 11 months ago by Shirley Steadman