Friday, April 27, 2018

"There's a lot to be said for making people laugh"

At the beginning of a film review in the current Weekly Standard, John Podhoretz describes another, older, film — one of my favorites by one of my favorite directors.
In 1941, Preston Sturges wrote and directed a movie called Sullivan's Travels about a successful director of cinematic fluff who longs to make a serious artistic statement called O Brother, Where Art Thou? "I want this picture to be a commentary on modern conditions!" he tells the head of his studio. "But with a little sex," the studio chief cautions. For complicated reasons, Sullivan ends up a falsely convicted felon working on a chain gang. One night he and his fellow convicts are allowed to see a Mickey Mouse short. He watches as they howl with joy and learns at that moment the great value of his supposedly trivial work. "There's a lot to be said for making people laugh," Sullivan concludes. "Did you know that's all some people have?"
I think this is the best of the thirteen Sturges films but I've very much enjoyed others. One site lists eight as "essential": “The Great McGinty” (1940), “Christmas in July” (1940), “The Lady Eve” (1941), “The Palm Beach Story” (1942), “The Miracle of Morgan’s Creek” (1944), “Hail the Conquering Hero” (1944), “Unfaithfully Yours” (1948) (which I haven't seen) and, of course, "Sullivan's Travels."