Aha Moment: Sullivan's Travels
Friday, March 02, 2012
The movie is about a disgruntled director named John Sullivan. Fed up with making frothy comedies, Sullivan decides to research the plight of the common man by living among the homeless. At one point, Sullivan gets mugged by a homeless tramp — but when the tramp tries to escape, he’s trapped on the tracks of a rail yard and mowed down by a train.
The scene is meant to represent how society has failed the common man. But at six years old, Eagan was convinced it was real. “I think what troubled me the most about it was that there was no escape,” he remembers. “That no matter what choice you made in a situation in life, with people, it would be the wrong one.”
Eagan ultimately worked in the film business, but — like Sullivan — grew dissatisfied with the industry. He channeled his love of the movies into film criticism. He marvels at the success of Sturges, a director who managed to create great films despite his own dissatisfactions with Hollywood. “He got knocked down a lot of times, and kept finding a way to progress.”
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Video: A scene from Sullivan’s Travels (1941)