Parents' Guide to

Sullivan's Travels

By Charles Cassady Jr., Common Sense Media Reviewer

age 12+

Brainy Hollywood classic about importance of comedy.

Movie NR 1941 94 minutes
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Sullivan's Travels was an instant hit when it opened, despite (or maybe because of) the infamous Japanese sneak attack on Pearl Harbor dominating headlines. Even though grounded in 1930s Depression-era anxieties, hobo camps and issues, the film still charms today -- maybe even more so, considering how much range of emotion writer-director Preston Sturges evokes, from hilarity to horror, while staying PG-restrained under the old-school Hollywood censorship system.

Mature tweens and up with an interest in classic film will be captivated from the first frame (an over-the-top fake death scene) to the stirring Negro-spiritual performance at the end that heralds Sullivan's epiphany about the basic need to laugh, no matter how bad things get. Rapid-fire dialogue and zinger observations still hit the target. Sturges, himself a director of brainy comedies, thought his fellow filmmakers were going a bit overboard with seriousness and preaching, and here he masterfully defends the universal human condition that responds to comedy. It's a must-see for movie lovers yesterday, today, and tomorrow.

Movie Details

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