Sullivan's Travels (1941)
Adventure / Comedy / Drama / Romance
Directed by Preston Sturges
Joel McCrea as John Lloyd Sullivan
Veronica Lake as The Girl
Robert Warwick as Mr. LeBrand
William Demarest as Mr. Jones
Franklin Pangborn as Mr. Casalsis
Porter Hall as Mr. Hadrian
Byron Foulger as Johnny Valdelle
Margaret Hayes as Secretary
Robert Greig as Burroughs, Sullivan's Butler
Eric Blore as Sullivan's Valet
Torben Meyer as The Doctor
Victor Potel as Cameraman
Richard Webb as Radio Man
Charles Moore as Colored Chef
Almira Sessions as Ursula Kornheiser
Sullivan is a man with a big heart who has achieved success, yet is an oblivious director of fluff films. He decided he wants to make a movie on the problems of the oppressed homeless. His producers are not satisfied when he decides to dress like a homeless man with no money in his pocket to see what it feels like for them. He is shocked when he goes through the experience.
Sullivan's Travels trailer
John L. Sullivan is a young, successful Hollywood director, but he is fed up with only producing shallow and meaningless comedies. He wishes to make a social statement with his next film that deals with real human suffering, titled “O Brother, Where Art Thou?”. He decides to get firsthand experience of what it’s like to live on the streets of America , so he dresses as a hobo and hits the road. However, Sullivan’s studio insists on following him everywhere, turning his project into a publicity stunt. They give him a luxury van, complete with a butler, valet, physician, reporter, and photographer. Wanting to travel alone, he persuades them to leave him be and meet up with him later. He hitchhikes, but manages to end up at the same place he started.
Frustrated, Sullivan wanders into a diner and meets a beautiful failing actress. She buys him breakfast, and in return for her favor, he gives her a ride in his car. His servants report the car stolen, and Sullivan and “The Girl” are arrested. After they are bailed out, The Girl dresses like a man and together they hop on a freight train, living like true hoboes. They drift through the streets, eating at soup kitchens and sleeping in homeless shelters.
When Sullivan finally decides his experiment is complete, The Girl wants to stay with him, but he explains that he has a wife that he only married by advice of his manager to lower his income taxes. That night, he strolls through the streets handing out thousands of dollars worth of five dollar bills to the needy. One man, however, attacks Sullivan, stealing his clothes and identification, knocking him unconscious, and throwing him in a train boxcar headed out of the city. The robber dies shortly after, when he is hit by another train. When his body is found, everyone assumes it is Sullivan’s.
Meanwhile, Sullivan wakes up the next day in another city, at an unknown train station with no memory of who he is or why he is there. Confused, he assaults the railroad worker who discovers him, and is arrested and sentenced to six years in a labor camp. He regains his memory , but is beaten by a worker when he speaks out of turn. He must remain with the other prisoners, but learns that laughter is an important part of their lives when they are allowed to attend a showing of a Mickey Mouse cartoon.
He finds an article in the newspaper of his death, and comes up with an ingenious plan to get out of his sentence. Sullivan confesses to his own murder, and is featured on the front page . The Girl recognizes him, and gets him released from the labor camp. As his wife married his business manager as soon as she presumed him dead, Sullivan is now able to marry The Girl. As well, he dumps his idea of producing a film about human misery, and is determined to make a comedy that will make people laugh.