Sullivan's Travels. 1941. USA. Written and directed by Preston Sturges. 90 min.
With Joel McCrea, Veronica Lake, Robert Warwick, William Demarest. After making pictures like Ants in Your Pants of 1939 and Hey, Hey in the Hayloft, the successful director John L. Sullivan wants to capture the plight of the common man and make a movie that “would realize the potentialities of film as the sociological and artistic medium that it is—with a little sex in it.” Yet he’s never known hard times, so he heads out into the world disguised as a hobo to see how the other half lives, and before long he’s joined in his adventures by a down-and-out actress who’s given up on Hollywood. Sullivan’s Travels is a masterful blend of physical comedy and relentlessly clever dialogue—the pratfalls are perfectly timed and the bon mots fly like bullets. One of Sturges’s greatest efforts, the film is dedicated to “the memory of those who made us laugh: the motley mountebanks, the clowns, the buffoons, in all times and in all nations, whose efforts have lightened our burden a little.”