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Sullivan's Travels (The Criterion Collection)


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Product Details

  • Actors: Joel McCrea, Veronica Lake, Robert Warwick, William Demarest, Franklin Pangborn
  • Directors: Preston Sturges
  • Format: Multiple Formats, Black & White, NTSC, Special Edition
  • Language: English (Dolby Digital 2.0 Mono)
  • Subtitles: English
  • Region: Region 1 (U.S. and Canada only. Read more about DVD formats.)
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1
  • Number of discs: 1
  • Rated: Unrated
  • Studio: Criterion
  • DVD Release Date: August 21, 2001
  • Run Time: 90 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (126 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B00005JH9C
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #107,016 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)
  • Learn more about "Sullivan's Travels (The Criterion Collection)" on IMDb

Special Features

  • Preston Sturges: The Rise and Fall of an American Dreamer 76 minute documentary by Kenneth Bowser for the PBS's "American Masters" series
  • New digital transfer
  • Production stills archive
  • Storyboards and blueprints
  • Scrapbook of original publicity materials
  • Archival audio recordings of Sturges
  • Hedda Hopper interview with Preston Sturges
  • Interview with Preston Sturges' widow Sandy Sturges

Editorial Reviews

Product Description

This masterpiece by Preston Sturges is perhaps the finest movie-about-a-movie ever made. Hollywood director Joel McCrea, tired of churning out lightweight comedies, decides to make O Brother, Where Art Thou-a serious, socially responsible film about human suffering. After his producers point out that he knows nothing of hardship, he hits the road as a hobo. He finds the lovely Veronica Lake-and more trouble than he ever dreamed of.

Additional Features

This Criterion Collection DVD uses filmmaker Preston Sturges's best-known film as a springboard to assess the filmmaker's life. For the film itself, there's a sparkling transfer of the comedy and some cagey commentary by modern-day humorists Christopher Guest and Michael McKean (among others). There's just the right number of production stills, backstage photos, publicity materials, and some intriguing storyboards and blueprints of how the film was shot. Even better is the material on Sturges himself. Included are radio segments of Sturges reciting poetry, singing songs, and interviewing Hedda Hopper--the kind of stuff that falls through the cracks on many definitive DVDs. A new interview with Sturges's last wife, Sandy, fills in some key points of the filmmaker's later years. Yet the crown jewel of this disc is the 76-minute documentary that won an Emmy for writer-critic Todd McCarthy (Visions of Light). "Preston Sturges: The Rise and Fall of an American Dreamer" is an entertaining tale of Sturges's intriguing life and how he redefined, forever, the role of the screenwriter in Hollywood. --Doug Thomas

Customer Reviews

This is one of the best films by Preston Sturges.
Dave D.
In addition to being really, really funny, it makes a really good point about Hollywood films and even about life in general.
ehakus
The most successful portions of the film are those in which he satirizes Hollywood with an insider's advantage.
"scotsladdie"

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

33 of 33 people found the following review helpful By Wayne Klein HALL OF FAMETOP 500 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on March 26, 2005
Format: DVD Verified Purchase
Any Preston Sturges film even the lesser ones are worth watching for their snappy dialogue and comedic sequences alone. With "Sullivan's Travels" we catch Sturges at the top of his game. Joel McCrea the everyman of the 40's turns in a terrific performance as the bright but lightweight director John Sullivan (Sully to his friends). Sully wants to make serious pictures after a career of churning out lightweight comedies. His next project "O Brother Where Art Thou" (wittily referenced in the Cohen brothers film of the same name nearly six decades later)will be a socially conscious look at the suffering of the common man. The only problem is that Sully knows absolutely nothing about suffering or hardship. Sully decides to rough it as a hobo and discovers much more than he wanted to about suffering. He meets "The Girl" (Veronica Lake lovely as ever)and discovers more about the world than he ever imagined.

Sturges fell into drama when he became ill and read about creating dramas while recooperating. His first major play "Strictly Dishonorable" became a huge Broadway hit in the 30's. As a child Sturges' mother became "friends" with Isadora Duncan and Sturges was dragged around with the two of them and had a very unconvetional upbringing nicely profiled in the original PBS Emmy winning documentary "Preston Sturges: The Rise and Fall of an American Dreamer". "The Power and the Glory" Sturges first written screenplay earned him over $17,000 in the 30's against the profits of the film by producer Jesse Lasky. Sturges already had made enemies in Hollywood by becoming wildly successful as an independent writer and later director.
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28 of 28 people found the following review helpful By Nix Pix on April 22, 2003
Format: DVD
After a string of B-movies, legendary cool babe, Veronica Lake graduated to the big time in this screwball message picture by director, Preston Sturges. Actor, Joel McCrea is John L. Sullivan, a director of frothy film comedies who desires to make a truly gritty motion picture about the "suffering of humanity". One problem - he doesn't know the first thing about suffrage, having been born with a silver spoon and thrust into a lucrative career with money to burn. So what's a desperate rich guy to do? He decides to impersonate a hobo and ride the rails in search of 'real' life. He finds Veronica Lake and a heap of trouble instead.
For once - a Criterion disc I can actually recommend on every level. First, the DVD quality of this classic film is bar none the most outstanding effort from Criterion thus far. The gray scale is superbly balanced. Blacks are black. Contrast and shadow levels are amazing. Fine details are well represented. There is some minor edge enhancement and aliasing, but it is so slight and infrequent that I really shouldn't be mentioning it at all. There's barely any digital or film grain for a smooth, thoroughly captivating visual presentation. The audio is mono but cleaned up in such a way that one hardly notices its dated shortcomings.
AT LAST - as an extra, Criterion gives us "Preston Sturges: A Life" a thoroughly engrossing, in-depth, full fledged documentary on the man, the making of this movie, as well as a time line documenting Sturges' many other films with a multitude of background material and snippets from each of the movies in Sturges' canon. The documentary is so good, you'll want to watch it twice. Yes, there's also an audio commentary and the usual Lux Radio junket that accompanies most Criterion classic titles. But the documentary is what counts here.
BOTTOM LINE: A MUST HAVE DISC FOR ANY FILM BUFF!
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20 of 21 people found the following review helpful By Ricky Hunter on July 30, 2004
Format: DVD
Sullivan's Travels is one of a group of comedy classics created by Preston Sturges during the early to mid-forties, each and every one a gem. Everyone will have a favourite (my personal weak spot is The Lady Eve) but Sullivan's Travels grows in my affections with every viewing. It is always remarkable to witness how influential the movie is, particularly, but not exclusively, in the works of the Coen brothers. Joel McRae is playing the director who goes looking for the underbelly of America and along the way he finds Veronica Lake. She could not be equaled, from the first moment her famous look is seen in the film until her laughter at the end. She looked like a smoldering noir femme fatale and spoke and acted like a screwball comedienne. It was a style not suited for many pictures but it was a perfect match for Preston Sturges in this one and she does very well by him and vice versa. The change in the movie from comedy to pathos, troubing and too abrupt for some viewers, is beautifully handled and the church sequence with the prisoners and the black parishioners is astonishing and handled with great cinematic skill. Criterion must also be congratulated, again, for the wonderful extras, particularly the documentary on Sturges.
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17 of 18 people found the following review helpful By Mike Stone on September 13, 2002
Format: VHS Tape
I, like many others of my generation I suspect, first came to know of writer/director Preston Sturges' "Sullivan's Travels" via its association with the Coen Brothers' "O Brother, Where Art Thou?" The latter movie took its name from a film-within-the-film from the former. John L. Sullivan, a director of successful lowbrow comedies, unhappy with his lofty lot in life, itches to make a socially conscious drama about poverty called... wait for it... "O Brother, Where Art Thou?" When it's pointed out that Sullivan, borne from the lap of luxury, could not possibly know the first thing about being poor, he decides to raid the movie studio's costume department for a hobo's outfit, and ride the rails in order to gain some life experience.
From these rather high concept beginnings, one would expect to find a straightforward comedy wherein our hero comes to realize that the poor are people too. That movie is here, to be sure, but it's not presented in any conventional manner. In fact, that part of the story is basically covered within the first thirty minutes. Which leaves the discerning audience member, one who's been paying attention all along and is well-versed in cinematic narrative convention, wondering, "Where do we go from here?" It is to Sturges' ultimate credit that this question is answered in due time and with tremendous skill.
The film is mostly a pure comedy, able to dabble in all different kinds of humour, indulging in farce, screwball, verbal wit, and light romance. But Sturges proves a master at mixing tones, as he is also able to dip a toe into harsh drama, straight social commentary, suspense thriller, and bold satire. It's one of the most versatile films I know, in that it takes a bite from every dish at the buffet, allowing them all to digest together perfectly.
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