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Sullivan's Travels

By Joe MacLeod | Posted 9/10/2008

Preston Sturges writes and directs this smart, snappy character actor- and dialogue-packed Great Depression-tinged comedy about frothy-movie director John Sullivan (Joel McCrea), who wants his studio to make a movie called O Brother, Where Art Thou?, "a commentary on modern conditions, a true canvas of the suffering of humanity--with a little sex in it." Sullivan never had it tough or ate out of a garbage can, so he decides to hobo it for experience, goes down to wardrobe, picks up some old clothes, and hops a boxcar, not to mention va-va-Veronica Lake as The Girl, here at the height of her monotone delivery and peekaboo golden wavy hairdo powers. The movie studio trails him, chronicling his journey through "the valley of the shadow of adversity," and despite the well-meaning condescension, there is a certain power that shines through the montages of hokey Hollywood setups of Hoovervilles and soup kitchens. Fans of historic black cinema will recognize the preacher welcoming those less fortunate than his humble African-American flock as Jess Lee Brooks, who is uncredited in the movie.

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