Sullivan's Travels (1941)

  • Adventure, Comedy, Drama
  • 1h 27m

Writer-director Preston Sturges’ 1941 film Sullivan’s Travels is a wry, satirical, but not entirely unsentimental comedy, with a downright postmodern view of the Hollywood system. It’s a film which dares to ask the question “what’s the matter with Capra?”.

Sullivan (Joel McCrea) is a successful, privileged, and naive director of fluffy films and racy comedies. Creatively dissatisfied, he decides that he wants to make a socially conscious film about the troubles of the downtrodden poor, titled O Brother, Where Art Thou? When his producers’ point out to him that he can’t understand the issues faced by those in poverty, Sullivan borrows a tramp’s outfit from the wardrobe department and sets off with a single dime in his pocket to experience the realities of 1940s America. Much of the film’s comedy comes from the fact that, try as he might, Sullivan can’t shake off the studio bus full of security personnel, producers, and secretaries who follow his every move. There is a screwball element to the comedy too, when Sullivan runs into a beautiful woman; an incredible, luminous performance from Veronica Lake.

Sullivan’s Travels’ influence is wide-reaching; clearly the Coen Brothers lifted the title of their 2001 film O Brother, Where Art Thou? from it, and it’s easy to see something of the film in Billy WIlder’s (much more cynical) masterpiece Sunset Boulevard. Orson Welles, too, had been a vocal fan of Sturges’ earlier work. The fact that Sturges was lampooning Hollywood as early as 1941 is a remarkable thing, but so too is the fact that Sturges is also one of the most eloquent proponents for the populist nature and communal experience of cinema. One of the film’s most memorable sequences involves a crowd, sitting in the dark, laughing together at Disney cartoons. An essential, irresistible film.


Preston Sturges






United States


NBC Universal

You may also like

Top Gun (1986)
  • Action, Adventure
  • 1h 51m
Jaws (1975)
  • Adventure, Drama
  • 2h 4m
Mr. Klein (1976)
  • Crime, Drama
  • 2h 3m
Roman Holiday (1953)
  • Comedy, Romance
  • 1h 58m
The Deer Hunter (1978)
  • Drama, War
  • 3h 3m
Bill Douglas Trilogy
  • 3 films
Dune (1984)
  • Action, Adventure
  • 2h 17m
My Man Godfrey (1936)
  • Comedy, Drama
  • 1h 34m
Sunset Boulevard (1950)
  • Drama, Film Noir
  • 1h 50m
The Big Lebowski (1998)
  • Crime, Black Comedy
  • 1h 57m
The Blair Witch Project (1999)
  • Horror, Mystery
  • 1h 28m
Nosferatu (1922)
  • Horror
  • 1h 35m
The City Of Lost Children (1995)
  • Fantasy, Science Fiction
  • 1h 52m
The Outsiders: The Complete Novel (1983)
  • Crime, Drama
  • 1h 54m
A Man Called Adam (1966)
  • Drama, Music
  • 1h 44m
Passport to Pimlico (1949)
  • Comedy
  • 1h 24m
Saturday Night Fever (1977)
  • Drama, Musical
  • 2h 2m
Nosferatu the Vampyre (1979)
  • Horror
  • 1h 47m
Do the Right Thing (1989)
  • Comedy, Drama
  • 2h 0m
The Servant (1963)
  • Drama
  • 1h 56m
The Princess Bride (1987)
  • Adventure, Drama
  • 1h 50m
The Masque of the Red Death (1964)
  • Horror
  • 1h 29m
White Christmas (1954)
  • Comedy, Musical
  • 2h 0m
The Third Man (1949)
  • Film-Noir, Mystery
  • 1h 33m
Big Night (1996)
  • Drama
  • 1h 47m
E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial (1982)
  • Adventure
  • 1h 55m
The Railway Children (1970)
  • Drama
  • 1h 49m
Whisky Galore! (1949)
  • Comedy, Crime
  • 1h 20m
Escape from New York (1981)
  • Action, Adventure
  • 1h 39m