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Thursday, November 8, 2018

Sullivan's Travels (1941)

A film director (Joel McCrea) is tired of making comedies and wants to make a socially relevant film about the downtrodden who are struggling to survive. So he decides to go undercover as a hobo and live among the homeless. Written and directed by Preston Sturges, this is a greatly admired film which many consider (along with THE LADY EVE) to be Sturges' crowning achievement. I'm not convinced. I enjoyed it alright but it veers dangerously close to CapraCorn territory though thankfully Sturges never gets as sentimental as Frank Capra. Whereas, Capra would squeeze all the mawkish attitude about the "little people" he could, Sturges shows what bastards they could be and even kills one off in a "serves you right" bit of karma. But when he isn't dabbling in Capra territory, Sturges often offers a sly satire of Hollywood pretension. There's a lovely sequence involving a black church that manages to avoid sentiment yet still be heartwarming. With Veronica Lake at her most appealing, William Demarest, Franklin Pangborn, Eric Blore, Margaret Hayes, Robert Warwick, Porter Hall, Esther Howard and Richard Webb. 

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