Greatest Film Scenes
and Moments

Sullivan's Travels (1941)


Written by Tim Dirks

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Movie Title/Year and Scene Descriptions

Sullivan's Travels (1941)

In writer/director Preston Sturges' brilliant screwball comedy and satire about Hollywood movie-making, with added social commentary about class divisions:

  • the speech of butler Burrows (Robert Greig) about poverty to Hollywood director John L. Sullivan (Joel McCrea), who became tired and disgusted with making escapist comedies: ("Poverty is not the lack of anything, but a positive plague, virulent in itself, contagious as cholera, with filth, criminality, vice and despair as only a few of its symptoms. It is to be stayed away from, even for purposes of study. It is to be shunned")
  • the classic chase scene of the studio's entourage trailing Sullivan
  • Sullivan's first meeting and pairing with The Girl (Veronica Lake) in a diner
  • The Girl dressed as a male hobo, and her wanderings with Sullivan (also dressed as a hobo) across America to experience poverty for themselves - and his predicament when accused of murder and imprisoned in a case of mistaken identity
  • the scene of a presumed-dead and incarcerated Sullivan in a prison farm, and brought to a black church one night to watch a screening of a 1934 Pluto/Mickey Mouse cartoon (Playful Pluto) on a flimsy white sheet - and his laughing along with his fellow, hardened Georgia chain-gang prisoners at the crazy antics when Pluto became stuck on flypaper and attempted to extricate himself but became even more entangled - a relevant image for Sullivan's own situation; he rhetorically asked himself: "Hey, am I laughing?" then suddenly realized that humorous movies, like religion, were the therapeutic solution to the pain of poverty or to the enmity between races
  • Sullivan's inspired return to making film comedies: ("There's a lot to be said for making people laugh! Did you know that's all some people have? It isn't much but it's better than nothing in this cockeyed caravan! Boy!")


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