Starring: Joel McCrea, Veronica Lake, Robert Warwick
Director: Preston Sturges
John Sullivan (McCrea) is a director of comedies but longs to be taken seriously as an artistic director of dramas. His decides to stage a stunt and heads off into the world disguised as a hobo, in order to learn about how real people live. On his travels, he meets a young girl down on her luck (Lake) who gets drawn into his plan, but he learns some valuable lessons about life and the gifts of comedy before he finds his way home again.
In this film, Sullivan talks about how he will make an important film based on what he learns on his travels, which he plans to call Oh Brother, Where Art Thou? The Coen brothers called their film after this fictional one as an homage.
Preston Sturges was a masterful director who had quite a few hit films in the 40’s. His films had witty sharp dialogue, wonderful comedic scenes and colourful characters. This film explores the way in which class or social position is signified by outward things like clothing or success, but is not an intrinsic personal value. It’s something that is easily lost. The film also has a wonderful way of skewering the way we see comedy films as being less intellectual or low brow in some way, and shows that the escapism and joy that films bring has a really important and valuable function in people’s lives.
Veronica Lake steals the show in this film and when she’s on screen you won’t have eyes or anything else. It’s one of her best films, and it’s a shame that she did not do more movies in her short career, but she was known to be very difficult to work with. As her career declined, she became an alcoholic, fell into obscurity and died at age 50. Here she is a bright starlet doing fine work which is made all the more poignant by knowing her history.
See It If: you like witty entertaining films with heart. It’s a film with a laughs, romance and a lovely message that is highly recommended.