Classic Hollywood And Preston Sturges "Sullivan's Travels"

1175 words - 5 pages

"The principles which Hollywood claims as it's own rely on notions of decorum, proportion, formal harmony, respect for tradition, mimesis, self-effecting craftsmanship, and cool control of the perceiver's response - canons which critics in any medium usually call "classical" (Maltby). Through the satirizing of film language and it's processes Sullivan's Travels brings about an awareness of it's own ideology within the framework of Classic Hollywood.The film tells the journey of "Sully," a big time Hollywood director of lightweight comedies wanting to experience suffering in the world before creating his first socially conscious film. In the film Hollywood is accurately depicted as a business of entertainment, producing pleasure for as much financial gain as possible. This in a sense was the "Classic Hollywood" style, with it's organized narrative, continuity script, and structured management and divisions of labor. An example of this Hollywood mindset is best understood in the conflict between the artist and the studio. In the film, Hollywood was best represented in Mr. Lebrand as the studio chief who is disinterested in films that teach a moral lesson. The long opening scene in the studio chief's office is a classic Sturges mixture of rapid fire, crisp, driving dialogue and satirical drama. Tired of doing comedies, Sullivan wishes his next film would be more relevant and meaningful "a true canvas of the suffering of humanity":Sullivan: This picture is an answer to Communists. It shows we're awake and not dunking our heads in the sand like a bunch of ostriches. I want this picture to be a commentary on modern conditions, stark realism, the problems that confront the average man.Lebrand: But with a little sexSullivan: A little, but I don't want to stress it. I want this picture to be a document. I want to hold up a mirror up to life. I want this to be a picture of dignity- a true canvas of the suffering of humanity.Lebrand: But with a little sexEven after the Hollywood studio system had passed, much of it's style remained. André Bazin described Hollywood as to be admired for "the richness of it's ever-vigorous tradition, and its fertility when it comes into contact with new elements." Referring in many ways to the sumptuousness of Hollywood in it's sociological approach to production. In essence, "to show American society just as it wanted to see itself" (Maltby). Perhaps this best explains the conclusion of Sullivan's Travels. A cartoon brings Sullivan to realize his attitude toward the poor had been patronizing. He finally comes to appreciate the enterprising power of laughter, and decides to return to his true calling- the making of mindless endearing films that entertain rather than inform. Which justly parallel's the Classic Hollywood outlook on aesthetics, setting limits on innovation as not to jeopardize maximum profits.Having chosen a film director as the main protagonist of his own film, it can be assumed that perhaps the film had...

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