Sullivan’s Travels (1941)

PRESTON STURGES

Bil’s rating (out of 5):  BBBBB

USA, 1941.  Paramount Pictures.  Screenplay by Preston Sturges.  Cinematography by .  Produced by Preston Sturges.  Music by , . Production Design by Hans Dreier, .  Costume Design by .  Film Editing by .

One of my favourite comedies ever made is this terrific Preston Sturges masterpiece. It tells the tale of a conscientious filmmaker () who decides that Depression-era audiences no longer want to be insulted with happy, feelgood fluff and so options the rights for a Steinbeckian novel called ‘O Brother, Where Art Thou?’ (which is where the Coen Brothers got their title for 2000 musical). Before he can make it, though, he needs to research the story it tells about a wandering hobo and so packs up his hanky and stick and takes to the road. Unfortunately, the studio RV travelling just six feet behind him isn’t helping him learn anything real about the life he is researching, until he and his new travelling companion ( at her very best, a role she rightly said later was her favourite) are separated from their support line and end up without identification and riding the rails with a bunch of other drifters, surviving by their very wits. Brilliant screenplay and marvelous social message, this is one of the most enjoyable films to come out of the golden age of Hollywood.

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