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Sullivan's Travels [Blu-ray] [1941]

4.6 out of 5 stars 39 customer reviews

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Product details

  • Actors: Joel McCrea, Veronica Lake, Robert Warwick
  • Directors: Preston Sturges
  • Format: Colour, Full Screen, Mono, Black & White
  • Language: English
  • Subtitles: English
  • Region: Region B/2 (Read more about DVD/Blu-ray formats.)
  • Aspect Ratio: 4:3 - 1.37:1
  • Number of discs: 1
  • Classification: 15
  • Studio: Arrow Academy
  • DVD Release Date: 26 May 2014
  • Run Time: 90 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (39 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 33,103 in DVD & Blu-ray (See Top 100 in DVD & Blu-ray)

Product Description


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 --This text refers to the DVD edition.

Product Description


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, 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, The Miracle of Morgan s Creek). Sullivan s Travels is one of his best: not just hilarious but also truly wise.

Special Features:

  • New high definition digital transfer of the film by Universal Pictures
  • Uncompressed Mono 2.0 PCM Audio
  • Optional English SDH subtitles for the deaf and hard of hearing
  • Audio commentary by filmmaker and Python Terry Jones
  • Preston Sturges: The Rise and Fall of an American Dreamer Kenneth Bowser s acclaimed feature-length documentary portrait from the American Masters series
  • Kevin Jackson on Sullivan s Travels: an appreciation by the writer and broadcaster
  • The Preston Sturges Stock Company: a celebration of Sturges regular character actors and bit-part players
  • Safeguarding Military Information: a Sturges-scripted propaganda short released in the same month as Sullivan s Travels
  • Theatrical Trailer
  • Reversible sleeve featuring original and newly commissioned artwork by Jay Shaw
  • Booklet featuring new writing on the film by screwball comedy expert Peter Swaab, plus archive pieces by Geoff Brown and Preston Sturges, illustrated with original stills and poster designs.
  • See all Product Description

Customer Reviews

4.6 out of 5 stars
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Top Customer Reviews

Format: Blu-ray Verified Purchase
The blu-ray visual quality isn't quite up there with others I've seen from this time, or before, and the documentary accompanying the film is pretty rudimentary: the kind where the stars and relatives speak rather than the cinema studies experts. The viewer is so much better off reading Sturges' beautifully written memoirs (that were finally published quite recently). As for the film itself, the beginning is wonderful: great writing, and hilarious. There is a change of pace as Veronica Lake joins, but if you can shift gears, the scene in the cafe is another to be relished.

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.
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Format: DVD Verified Purchase
I liked this 1941 drama/comedy a lot. It is deservedly considered a classic and it didn't age one bit. Below, more of my impressions, with some limited SPOILERS.

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.
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Format: DVD
Preston Sturgess wonderful satire with Joel McCrea as Sullivan a Hollywood director famous for his comedies who decides he wants to make a serious movie for a change and so disguises himself as a hobo and takes to the road to see the real America but along the way meets sexy Veronica Lake and ends up in prison for a murder rap of which he is innocent.It is there that Sully discovers that making people laugh may be his greatest gift.This is a lovely movie with something important to say about life and the chemistry between McCrea and Lake is a joy .Favourite scene-When Sully is watching a Disney cartoon in prison and looks around to see the look of joy on the prisoners faces at something so innocent- some times laughter really is the best medicine.
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Format: DVD
At its simplest, Preston Sturges’ masterfully inventive 1941 film takes Joel McCrea’s 'frothy comedy’ movie-maker, John L Sullivan, and teaches him the lesson that lofty ambitions to make more meaningful 'message’ cinema will always come off second best to the public’s insatiable desire for laughter and out-and-out comedies. But whilst Sullivan’s Travels does indeed provide much in the way of exuberant slapstick, witty dialogue (courtesy of Sturges himself) and subtle innuendo, its additional elements of a satirical take on Hollywood machinations and genuinely thoughtful social commentary (the latter taking centre stage during the film’s dark final third), taken together, make Sturges’ film almost unclassifiable (certainly for the period), as well as bestowing on the film a reputation which has subsequently influenced many later film-makers, perhaps most notably the Coen brothers with their film O Brother, Where Art Thou? (a part-homage to Sturges’ film).

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.
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