Sullivan's Travels

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Sullivan's Travels is a 1941 American comedy film written and directed by Preston Sturges. It is a satire about a movie director, played by Joel McCrea, who longs to make a socially relevant drama, but eventually learns that comedies are his more valuable contribution to society. The film features one of Veronica Lake's first leading roles. The title is a reference to Gulliver's Travels, the famous novel by satirist Jonathan Swift about another journey of self-discovery.

In 1990, Sullivan's Travels was selected for preservation in the United States National Film Registry by the Library of Congress as being "culturally, historically, or aesthetically significant."



John L. Sullivan (Joel McCrea), a popular young Hollywood director fresh from a string of very profitable, but shallow comedies (e.g. Ants in Your Plants of 1939) , tells his studio boss, Mr. Lebrand (Robert Warwick), that he is dissatisfied and wants his next project to be a serious exploration of the plight of the downtrodden, to be based on the socially-conscious novel O Brother, Where Art Thou? by Sinclair Beckstein. Not surprisingly, Lebrand wants him to direct another, more lucrative comedy instead, but the idealistic Sullivan refuses to give in. He wants to "know trouble" first-hand as a tramp so he can return and make a film that truly depicts the sorrows of humanity. His butler (Robert Greig) and valet (Eric Blore) openly question the wisdom of his plan.

Undeterred, Sullivan dresses as a penniless hobo and takes to the road. However, no matter how hard he tries, somehow he always ends up back in Hollywood. Lebrand insists that his staff follow him in a double-decker coach. Neither party is happy with the arrangement; Sullivan eventually persuades his guardians to leave him alone and arranges to rendezvous with them later. When he hitchhikes, he finds himself back where he started.

Then he meets a young failed actress (Veronica Lake, credited only as "The Girl") who is contemplating quitting the business. In return for her kindness to him, Sullivan gives her a lift in his car, without telling his servants; they report the "theft" and the pair are apprehended by the police. Upon their release, the Girl pushes him into his enormous swimming pool for deceiving her about his true identity. However, after considering her options, she becomes his traveling companion.

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