Sullivan’s Travels

I heard the news that Lew Wolff was selling his share of the A’s.  There is some hope for some positive change.  I spent the afternoon grading papers, and I gave a brief lecture.  I stopped to get some frozen yogurt before going home to see “Sullivan’s Travels” on Blu-ray.  It’s not my idea of a perfect movie.  It didn’t make me laugh too much, and Joel McCrea’s performance had a few weak moments.  A couple of the supporting actors were very good.  I couldn’t help liking the swimming pool scene, even though it wasn’t original.  I found it hard to believe that a crowd of people could find a simple cartoon so uproariously funny.  I remember Veronica Lake for this movie more than anything else, so it’s odd that her character is credited only as The Girl.  I was surprised to see the height difference between her and Joel McCrea.  She had some of the best lines of dialogue in the movie.  I thought that hitting a person with a rock would have been out of character for Sullivan, but then the script had an autobiographical quality to it, and I wouldn’t really know.  Some of the strong, dramatic scenes happen in the prison.  It felt like “Cool Hand Luke” twenty-five years before that Paul Newman movie.  I thought that even Sullivan in his oblivious state would have known to keep his mouth shut in prison.  The movie made me think of Woody Allen’s “Stardust Memories,” along with a few Frank Capra films.  It was also referenced in “Grand Canyon” and the NUMB3RS television series.  I’ve always found it difficult to relate to the Sullivan character because he was rich and far removed from the real world.  I guess he’s not that different from the Henry Fonda character in “The Lady Eve,” who didn’t know what was going on, either.  I wonder how almost no one has made comedies as well as Preston Sturges did seventy-five years ago.  The sight of Veronica Lake disguised as a boy was funny, as well as her getting on and off the train.  One of the special features was an interview with Sandy Sturges from 2001.  I didn’t know that his wife lived so long.  There was also an American Masters episode on Sturges included.  The print was not so impressive in high definition with scratches and signs of age.  “Sullivan’s Travels” wasn’t a movie that I thought was going to wow me in high definition.  A lot of the attraction was in just watching Joel McCrea and Veronica Lake.  Doing some reading about this movie on IMDB, it seems that McCrea didn’t like working with Lake, and she was pregnant during the filming.  Sturges wanted to use a Chaplin film for the church scene, but he wouldn’t give permission, so Sturges went with the cartoon “Playful Pluto.”  A Chaplin film certainly would have fit in better with the themes of the movie.


Some of the people who died on November 18 include Chester A. Arthur (1886), Marcel Proust (1922), Niels Bohr (1962), Junior Parker (1971), Man Ray (1976), Cab Calloway (1994), Doug Sahm (1999), and James Coburn (2002).  Today is a birthday for Chloe Sevigny (42), Megyn Kelly (46), Owen Wilson (48), and Kevin Nealon (63).

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