Thursday, November 27, 2014

Sullivan's Travels

"I want this picture to be a commentary on the modern condition, stark realism, the problems that confront the average man."

"But with a little sex."

This is the first Preston Sturges film I have watched and I have to say I had a blast watching it. Sturges' movies have been championed by the likes of Quentin Tarantino, Richard Linklater and the Coen Brothers. The latter being strongly influenced by his screwball comedies through films like Hudsucker Proxy and O Brother Where Art Thou? A play to the title of the movie that Joel McCrea's character is trying to get made.

Screwball comedies were a big thing in the late 30s and 40s. Ernst Lubitsch and Preston Sturges proved to be masters of the form. The former creating classics like Trouble In Paradise and To Be Or Not to Be. The latter making a string of pictures for Paramount.

Sturges started out as a playwright and decided to reinvent himself by writing Hollywood pictures starting with The Great McGinty. He went a step further and  kicked down the door for the writer/director. At the time a writer/director wasn't nearly as common as it is today. A writer could have more say in how his words were presented if he occupied both trades.

The screwball comedy aspect is sublimely balanced out by poignancy. There is a scene that involves convicts watching a cartoon that is as timeless as it is inspiring. The plot being increasingly unpredictable as it unravels. It's a flawless film crackling with energy and great performances.

"There's a lot to be said for making people laugh." There is, Mr. Sturges. And there's not enough that can be said about how you accomplished that with your films.

Go to 7:20 to hear Quentin geek out on Sturges:

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