Director: Preston Sturges
Cast: Joel McCrea, Veronica Lake, Robert Warwick
Release Date: Now Available on Criterion Collection Blu-Ray & DVD
A Review By: Kevin Lovell
Film Rating: 9/10
Disc Rating: 10/10
A director of escapist films goes on the road as a hobo to learn about Life…which gives him a rude awakening.
The 1941 classic ‘Sullivan’s Travels’ follows filmmaker John L. Sullivan (McCrea) who is tired of making meaningless comedies and has his heart set on ‘Oh Brother Where Art Though’ being his next film. The only issue is that he fears he won’t be able to properly represent the hard times of the story on screen having never suffered a hard day in his life. Determined not to give up on the project, Sullivan ventures out on the road with only a dime in his pocket in order to experience hard times for himself, but that is only the beginning of the journey he has just set upon and soon things take a drastic turn from his expected plans. For those who haven’t had the pleasure of the film before, I would highly recommend checking it out. It’s an incredibly fun, funny and moving film, not to mention extraordinarily well done; more than worth a watch.
Fans of ‘Sullivan’s Travels’ will definitely want to make sure to pick up a copy of the Criterion Collection Blu-Ray release to add to their collections. Written and directed by Preston Sturges and starring Joel McCrea, Veronica Lake and other notable stars of the silver screen from back in the day, this timeless classic looks truly phenomenal here on Blu-Ray, surely looking and sounding better than fans had ever imagined thanks to the HD Criterion treatment. The top notch high definition video and audio presentations it provides along with the usual impressive collection of supplemental material including a 75-Minute Documentary and much more (more detailed information regarding the bonus content can be found in the special features section of the technical specification coverage below) make this a must own for any fan of the film or of Sturges, McCrea and Lake’s work.
The Criterion Collection Blu-Ray release of ‘Sullivan’s Travels’ features a full 1080p High Definition presentation representing its original 1.37:1 Aspect Ratio. The following is a quote from inside the releases’ included booklet regarding the video transfer for those who would prefer some additional details:
This new high-definition digital transfer was created on a Spirit DataCine film scanner from a 35mm nitrate fine-grain at Universal Studios in Universal City, California, where the film was also restored.
The video presentation looks fantastic, especially for a film shot so many decades ago. The black and white presentation is sharp, detailed and surprisingly clean, even the fast moving and darker moments hold up admirably and never cause anything occurring on screen to become indiscernible or distorted (aside where intended of course) in any way. While some pops and grain are retained, it in no way negatively affects the viewing experience, if anything it merely compliments it. Criterion once again delivers a truly impressive high definition video presentation here that should have fans of this classic film absolutely thrilled.
The Criterion Collection Blu-Ray release includes a Lossless Linear PCM monaural soundtrack. As with the video details above, the following is a quote from inside the releases’ included booklet regarding the audio transfer for those who would prefer some additional details:
The original monaural soundtrack was remastered at 24-bit from a 35mm magnetic track made from the original 35mm soundtrack negative. Clicks, thumps, hiss, hum, and crackle were manually removed using Pro Tools HD, AudioCube’s integrated workstation, and iZotope RX 4.
This lossless monaural soundtrack sounds quite magnificent for its age, delivering an impressive and surprisingly crisp and clean audio presentation within the sole allotted channel. The wonderful score, action elements and dialogue all sounds fantastic and almost unbelievably detailed, not to mention perfectly balanced considering they are all sharing one channel. Just as with the video presentation, this lossless monaural soundtrack is fantastic and surely the best this movie has ever sounded, it should in no way disappoint.
The Criterion Collection Blu-Ray release of ‘Sullivan’s Travels’ includes an impressive collection of fantastic supplemental material. Included on the Blu-Ray release is an Audio Commentary track recorded by The Criterion Collection in 2001 featuring filmmakers Noah Baumbach, Kenneth Bowser, Christopher Guest and Michael McKean. Also included is a 75 minute Documentary from 1990 titled ‘Preston Sturges: The Rise and Fall of an American Dreamer’; along with a new Video Essay by film critic David Cairns and featuring filmmaker Bill Forsyth titled ‘Ants In Your Plants Of 1941’ (which runs approximately 17 minutes in length); an Interview with the late Sandy Sturges conducted by the Criterion Collection in 2001 (approximately 13 minutes) and some Archival Audio recordings including rare homemade recordings. The three included audio bits are: Sturges Talks to Hedda Hopper – Sturges Recites “If I Were a King” & Sturges Sings “My Love”. Lastly we are treated to the usual included booklet from Criterion, this time featuring an unfolding leaflet style design and including an essay from film critic Stuart Klawans along with full color artwork and more.