Genre Guesstimation – Sullivan’s Travels (1941)


The idea behind this feature (Genre Guesstimation) is for me to watch a bunch of new movies (or ones that I haven’t seen many times) from the chosen monthly GG genre in order to expand my knowledge of movies within that particular genre.

This month’s Genre was chosen by Steven of Past, Present, Future in TV and Film and he chose Black and White movies as the Genre for August.  If you want to still submit a movie, the deadline is 25 August. Just send it to me at b&w@movierob.net (if you need a slight extension, let me know)

Let’s see if I felt that this movie would be worthy of being in the company of my others favorite movies in the genre of B&W movies…

Sullivan'sTravels“There’s a lot to be said for making people laugh. Did you know that that’s all some people have? It isn’t much, but it’s better than nothing in this cockeyed caravan.” – John Sullivan

Number of Times Seen – 2 (10 Feb 2005 and 20 Aug 2015)

Brief Synopsis – In order to try and understand his characters more, a movie director pretends to be destitute but things never go as planned.

My Take on it – This is a movie that I had never even heard of until it is mentioned in Grand Canyon (1991) by Steve Martin’s character Davis.  He immediately afterwards mentions my favorite movie quote of all time (“That’s part of your problem: you haven’t seen enough movies. All of life’s riddles are answered in the movies.”) (I’m sure you can understand why I love that quote so much)

For years the idea of watching this lingered in the back of my mind, but I never got around to it.

I watched it finally 14 years later and even managed to doze off a bit along the way because I didn’t find it so entertaining.

Upon rewatching it now, ten years later, I can appreciate more what Preston Sturges was aiming for and enjoyed it much more.

The message of the film is still relevant today 74 years later and having a timeless message helps this somewhat absurd story work.

The problem is that the story doesn’t know whether it wants to be a satire or reflect the serious nature of it all and that is where I think this film falters a bit, but like it’s main character finds its way in the end.

Joel McCrea is great in the title role and feels quite comfortable in it.  Veronica Lake (in one of the few performances that Ive seen of hers) feels totally out of place in her role and doesn’t fit in as either a struggling actress or a bum.

Bottom Line – Interesting message film that is still somewhat relevant today. Lake seems somewhat miscast here but McCrea seems comfortable enough with the role. Movie waivers between being a comedy and a drama and loses its way a bit, but like it’s main character eventually finds its stride. Recommended

MovieRob’s Favorite Trivia – Reportedly, Preston Sturges got the idea for the movie from stories of John Garfield living the life of a hobo, riding freight trains and hitchhiking his way cross-country for a short period in the 1930s. (From IMDB)

Genre Grandeur Worthy? – This one comes very close, but ultimately it isn’t the kind of movie I would find enjoyable to watch over and over again and call one of my favorites.

Rating – Globe Worthy

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2 thoughts on “Genre Guesstimation – Sullivan’s Travels (1941)

  1. Pingback: Genre Grandeur August Finale – All About Eve (1950) – Past Present Future TV and Film |

  2. Pingback: Temporal Top Ten – 1941 | MovieRob

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