Oscar winning actor Kevin Spacey took a break from his run on Broadway to host Grand Classics, introducing the Preston Sturges classic Sullivan's Travels.
The evening was sponsored by Land Rover.
"I got involved from the very beginning because the idea of asking various artists or people in entertainment or film or theater to pick a film that they particularly like and ask a group of people to come and see it... offers me an opportunity to show a movie that most people don't know by a filmmaker who many people may have never heard of. His name was Preston Sturges... he started out as a playwright in New York and had a big success on Broadway...
And then Hollywood came calling and he got a contract at Paramount Pictures and he wrote screenplays... but he really, really wanted to control his own movies... he wrote a screenplay for a film called The Great McGinty and he offered it to Paramount for a dollar in exchange that he could direct the movie and he did. And it became one of the greatest hits he ever had. ...[Sullivan's Travels] is a film about Hollywood ...Joel McCrea stars in the movie... Its one of the first movies that Veronica Lake was in... when she accepted the movie, she failed to tell Preston that she was 5 months pregnant so Edith Head... had to design costumes that hid the fact that she was in fact, in full-bloom and she is beautiful in the movie and extraordinary to look at... It was not unusual in any Preston Sturges movie to hear a character say the most eloquent line of dialogue you've ever heard and then turn and fall flat on their face. He was a man who believed in comedy and believed in its power..."
Sullivan's Travels (1941), written and directed by Preston Sturges, is deemed to be the finest movie-about-a-movie ever made. Sullivan's Travels also marks one of Veronica Lake's first performances as a leading lady. The film title is an homage to Gulliver's Travels, a novel that shared a similar theme about a journey of self-discovery. Almost sixty years after Sullivan's Travels' theatrical release, the Coen brothers made O Brother, Where Art Thou?, named for the film that Joel McCrea's character wanted to make.
In Sullivan's Travels, frustrated film director John Sullivan (Joel McCrea) is tired of making shallow, meaningless comedies for the studios and decides that he wants his next film to be socially responsible. After the studio makes clear to Sullivan that he knows nothing about human suffering, he strips himself of all life's unnecessary luxuries and takes on the life of a hobo. While 'researching' his next film, McCrea's character encounters the stunning Veronica Lake, and gets into more trouble than he could ever have imagined.