Wednesday, January 7, 2015

#525: Sullivan's Travels

1941, TSPDT Rank #214

Sullivan's Travels might be Preston Sturges' most multilayered film: managing to function as a rollicking, convoluted comedy, a work of social commentary, and a personal mission statement all in one film. The plot is vintage Sturges - so chock full of twists and turns that it seems to contain a few different films over the course of 90 swift minutes. But basically it concerns the story of a successful Hollywood director who tries to "get in touch with the common man" in order to make a serious film about social issues, but ends up getting in way over his head in more ways than he could have imagined. Joel McCrea and Veronica Lake are perfectly cast in the two leads: they have impeccable chemistry, and this has to be Lake's most successful and iconic role of all time. Her film noir appearances with Alan Ladd throughout the 1940s are also worth seeing, but in this role she is at her most charasmatic and delightful. It's too bad that she didn't make more films with Preston Sturges - or more films in general for that matter. Overall, Sullivan's Travels is definitely an essential Preston Sturges film - even if films like The Lady Eve, The Palm Beach Story, and The Miracle of Morgan's Creek do a better job of exemplifying the type of out-of-control screwball comedies that Sturges is known for.

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