Film Review: Sullivan’s Travels

Film Review: Sullivan’s Travelsdir Preston Sturges

Bought this for a fiver and watched it with my mum last night. How brilliant! John Sullivan (aka Lemuel Gulliver) is cosseted and enormously successful director of light musical comedies. He’s restless and self-loathing, and wants to make Films with a Message (specifically, a dour-sounding epic called ‘Oh Brother Where Art Thou?’) The studio is, understandably, reluctant, and the early sequence with him in hobo dress being followed by a land yacht containing a cook, personal physician, etc is priceless.

Sturges had a stable of great actors working for him – in this one the chauffeur and the butler almost steal the movie, which is amazing given it stars Joel McCrea and Veronica (that hair!!!) Lake.

This is explicitly a film about films, but not in a chin-stroking wanky metafictional kind of way. We move from screwball to slapstick to ‘cinema verite’ to German Expressionism to gruesome prison flick at a terrific pace. Sturges is at all times completely in control. Amazing.

Preston Sturges led a, well, startling life, well recounted in a bonus doco ‘The Rise and Fall of Preston Sturges’.


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