HOLLYWOOD'S GOLDEN AGE
(Post 3 of 50)
Disgruntled motion picture director John L. Sullivan decides he wants to make a more social significant film called O Brother, Where Art Thou? Despite the studio's objection, Sullivan decides he wants to live among the poor to get a better understanding of their plight.
Sappy? A bit. Corny? Definitely. Improbable? Certainly.
I don't care. Sullivan's Travel's remains one of my favorite movies from Hollywood's golden age. Joel McCrea as Sullivan and Veronica Lake as his love interest are perfect in the lead roles. But this is writer/director Preston Sturges's film. We see Sturges the writer in evidence in the rapid fire opening dialogue between Sullivan and the studio executives. We see Sturges the director in evidence in the silent scenes where Sullivan and his girl soak in through several scenes without dialogue the plight of the poor. But probably the most famous scene is where chain gang prisoners join members of a black church to watch a Mickey Mouse and Pluto cartoon. There's a lot to be said for making people laugh. Did you know that's all some people have? It isn't much, but it's better than nothing in this cockeyed caravan.
And the Elisha Cook Jr. supporting player award goes to…Eric Blore.
It seems like all Preston Sturges movies have a plethora of great supporting players. Sullivan's Travels has William Demarest, Franklin Pangborn, Porter Hall and Robert Grieg as Sullivan's philosophical valet.
But I'm giving the award to Eric Blore, who plays Sullivan's butler. This role was nothing different for Blore, who Hollywood loved to cast a butler, so he clearly has the buttlin' thing down. He's resourceful, loyal to Sullivan and probably wiser than his boss in a lot of ways. Other films I've seen him in include the Astaire/Rogers classics Swing Time and Top Hat and Laurel and Hardy's Swiss Miss.