Irresistible tale of a Hollywood director, tired of making comedies and bent on branching out with an arthouse epic called Brother, Where Art Thou?, who sets out to research the meaning of poverty. Suitably costumed as a hobo and starting down the road, discreetly dogged by a studio caravan ready to record the great man's thoughts and serve his needs, he angrily sends this absurd prop packing; only to realise much later, while sweating out a sentence on a chaingang, that severing the lifeline has left him to all intents and purposes a stateless person. He emerges a wiser and more sober man, having seen his fellow-convicts forget their misery in watching a Disney cartoon. The film has sometimes been read as a defence of Hollywood escapism, but what Sturges is really doing is putting down the awful liberal solemnities of problem pictures and movies with a message. Whatever, Sullivan's Travels is a gem, an almost serious comedy not taken entirely seriously, with wonderful dialogue, eccentric characterisations, and superlative performances throughout.
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