Written by: Preston Sturges
Directed by: Preston Sturges
Starring: Joel McCrea, Veronica Lake, Robert Warwick
My rating is simple, Watch It, It Depends, Skip it. Read my previous movie reviews!
A director of comedy movies goes on the road as a hobo to learn about life's hardships and experiences a revelation.
This is a fun and meaningful movie, completely cut from the cloth of the classic movies. Sullivan embarks on a journey to learn about life's struggles. The message is on the nose, but it's a common trait from this era. If you want to do something you've got to go out and do it. You can't make something by sitting on the sidelines, and you can't create something you know nothing about.
It's only by trying new things you can find fulfillment and discover your passion.
Sullivan wants to make a drama about suffering instead of his usual comedies, but without any personal struggles, he decides to pose as a hobo and see the grittier side of life. The rich want to be poor and the poor want to be rich.
The title is a reference to Gulliver's Travels, first published in 1726 and often imitated. A man is shipwrecked and discovers a new race of tiny people.
I appreciate that John Sullivan wants his movie, O Brother, Where Art Thou? to be authentic by actually gaining the experience. He's a rich director that has it all, but he's not content with just coasting. He wants to make a movie that's meaningful. He's tired of making comedies.
Of course the production company is worried about their top director embarking on a dangerous journey. This leads to a slapstick sequence where, soon after he embarks on his quest, Sullivan meets a kid with a wooden go cart that defies physics with how fast it travels. The production company tries to follow along in an RV, bouncing its inhabitants around in an effort to keep up.
Despite his efforts to get away, Sullivan keeps ending up in Hollywood. Finally he escapes the city and gets exactly what he desires. He's sentenced to hard labor, but through that has a revelation about what kind of movie he wants to make. He devises a slick solution to get out of the labor camp, confessing to killing himself.
He no longer wants to make a drama. While he admits he hasn't suffered enough to make the movie he wants, he realizes making people laugh is much more important that he ever imagined. While he's right back to where he is in the beginning of the movie making comedies, he's developed a passion for it. He wants to make them.
Joel and Ethan Coen's O Brother, Where Art Thou? (2000) borrows plot elements and the name from the drama Sullivan wanted to make. The Coen's said their movie is what Sullivan would have made after his revelation in Sullivan's Travels.