Fellow Film Club Members & Movie Buffs:
The theme this month is Road Trip Movies: the journeys continue.
June is here, the sun is reacquainting itself with us, school will be out soon, brides are gathering in clusters in churches & rose gardens, & the movies picked for this month are rife with fun & wisdom. Hopefully, most of you have made an effort to get out to the Grand Cinema and see CHEF, which I enjoyed immensely. First up for our Club screenings, using our new projection equipment, is a classic Preston Sturges comedy, SULLIVAN’S TRAVELS (1941).
Preston Sturges, as a youth worked on stage productions of his mother’s friend, Isadora Duncan–the scarf that strangled her was made by his mother’s company; Maison Desti. After serving in WWI, he tried his hand at inventing, & play writing in 1929. He came to Hollywood as a script writer in 1932. In 1940, he was allowed to both write & direct THE GREAT McGINTY, & it was a success, making a lot of money for the period. He left Paramount during WWII to become independent, but suffered a string of failures. He moved to France, where he filmed his final movie, THE FRENCH; THEY ARE A FUNNY RACE (1955). He died in 1959, alone in NYC while writing his memoirs, entitled THE EVENTS LEADING UP TO MY DEATH.
He only directed 14 films between 1940-1955, fewer even than Stanley Kubrick; including THE LADY EVE (1941), THE PALM BEACH STORY (1942), THE MIRACLE OF MORGAN’S CREEK (1944), & HAIL THE CONQUERING HERO (1944).
Preston Sturges once said, “You can’t go around to theaters handing out cards saying “It’s not my fault”; hell, no–you just go on to the next one.”
The film’s opening dedication: “To the memory of those who made us laugh, the motley mountebanks, the clowns, the buffoons, in all times & in all nations, whose efforts have lightened our burden a little–this picture is dedicated.”
Joel McCrea as John L. Sullivan: “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 beats nothing in this cockeyed caravan.”
The Cinematography was done by veteran lenser John F. Steitz, a genius of sorts, who had 18 patents for photographic processes to his name. Working mostly for Paramount, he shot 163 films from 1916-1960, including THE LITTLEST REBEL (1935), POOR LITTLE RICH GIRL (1936), THE CROWD ROARS (1938), ANOTHER THIN MAN (1940), THIS GUN FOR HIRE (1942), DOUBLE INDEMNITY (1944), GOING MY WAY (1944), THE LOST WEEKEND (1945), THE GREAT GATSBY (1949), SUNSET BLVD. (1950), DETECTIVE STORY (1951), THE McCONNELL STORY (1955), Shooting 20 films with Alan Ladd,
SULLIVAN’S TRAVELS (1941)
Written & Directed by Preston Sturges @ 90 minutes.
The film stars Joel McCrea, Veronica Lake, Franklin Pangborn, Robert Warwick, William Demarest, & Porter Hall.
Synopsis: A successful director of escapist films during the Depression, decides that he wants to make a movie about the common man, the hungry & downtrodden. He sets off in tramp’s garb with a single dime in his pocket to do some realistic research & his misadventures were sobering.
Tagline: From the poster: A Happy-Go-Lucky Hitch Hiker on the Highway to Happiness, after seeing the Real World, ended up on Lover’s Lane.
TRIVIA: Veronica Lake was very pregnant during the filming, & designer Edith Head had to create costumes that hid her condition. Sturges claimed that he got the idea for the film from stories about actor John Garfield, who had lived as a hobo, riding the rails, & hitchhiking across the country as research for his film roles. Ray Milland & Preston Sturges both did unbilled cameos in the movie.
Joel McCrea was the only actor ever considered for the lead role, Sturges wrote it with him in mind. Frances Farmer tested for the role of The Girl, before Veronica Lake was given the part. The character, Sullivan, planned to make a movie entitled OH BROTHER, WHERE ART THOU?–a title later borrowed by the Coen Brothers for one of their films.
Rotten Tomatoes rates this film at an incredible 100% Critic’s approval, & a wonderful 90% Audience approval.
VARIETY wrote: “Sturges’ dialogue is trenchant, has drive, possessed crispness, & gets the laughs when needed.”
Bosley Crowther of the NEW YORK TIMES wrote: “SULLIVAN’S TRAVELS is one of the screens more significant comedic films.”
Steven D. Greydanus of DECENT FILMS GUIDE wrote: “This movie has everything; It’s a screwball comedy & a socially conscious melodrama, as well as an effective satire on both genres–while always remaining a crowd-pleaser.”
So make sure you mark your calendars for this Friday, June 6, 2014, & join us for this marvelous heart-warming dramedy, SULLIVAN’S TRAVELS (1941). We will screen it at the Center for Spiritual Living, the church building we rent, located at 206 North J. Street, on the corner of Division & J Streets, across from Group Health hospital.
Arrive early, around 6:15 p.m., and join many of us downstairs in the kitchen area for fun, fellowship, & snacks. It is permitted, & appreciated, for some people to bring snacks & beverages, including wine, to share with others–but please, remember that no food or drink is permitted upstairs in the sanctuary while viewing the film. Please clean up after yourselves before coming up for the screening.
SULLIVAN’S TRAVELS will screen at 7:15 p.m., & it runs 90 minutes; so the movie will be over before 9:30 p.m. The admission is free, but there is a Donation Box in the sanctuary, & any collected funds helps the Club to pay the rent, and meet other expenses; like our membership cards, post card flyers, & an expensive screening license we pay for in order to show movies to the public. See you at the movies!