Wednesday, March 9, 2011
The Art of the Poster: Sullivan's Travels (1941)
Sullivan's Travels, Preston Sturges' pre-war masterpiece, concerns a movie director (Joel McCrea) who has tired of making light comedies and wants to make a film about the downtrodden forgotten man. So, like William Powell in My Man Godfrey, he goes incognito as a hobo, but finds that no matter what he does, he winds up back in Hollywood. Several plot twists later with the help of The Girl (Veronica Lake), Sullivan succeeds in becoming a hobo only to wind up on a chain gang serving time for manslaughter. Here, he learns the value of laughter and decides that possibly he has been contributing after all. Like any Sturges film, Sullivan's Travels is satiric and sharply observed, though this time the satire informs a powerful social message. Many regard this as Sturges' best film.
In this famous scene, Jesse Lee Brooks leads a congregation in "Go Down, Moses" as the convicts arrive to see a Disney cartoon: