RICHLAND — Link Americana and movies and the first name that pops to mind is Frank Capra.
The annual holiday showing of It’s a Wonderful Life has kept Capra in the forefront. Fans of the genre hold another in equal awe. Preston Sturges.
This week’s Battelle Film Club presentation is Sullivan’s Travels, a 1941 classic starring Joel McCrea and Veronica Lake. Sturges opens his movie with a dedication to those in the medium who make us laugh. Then he proceeds to do just that.
McCrea plays a popular director tired of making comedies and musicals. He wants to do deep, dark drama. Having never experienced trouble, the director — much to the chagrin of the studio bigwigs — decides to don the dress of a tramp, and with 10 cents in his pocket, go out and find trouble.
That trouble leads to Lake’s character and some outstanding comedy.
Some of the bits between the peripheral characters and McCrae contain quick one-liners brilliantly executed by men and women who no doubt learned their craft in live performance or vaudeville.
Sturges also pays homage to the era of silent film with a couple of wonderfully staged and executed scenes. The biggest laugh of all comes during a scene in which a chain gang visits a church to see a movie.
He also mixes some heavy drama into all that mirth. It helps make the point that laughter is — indeed — what keeps us sane.
Mr. Movie rating: 5 stars
Not rated — probably PG. It plays one time — 8 p.m. Friday, Nov. 19 — at the Battelle Auditorium.
5 stars to 4 1/2 stars: Must see on the big screen
4 stars to 3 1/2 stars: Good film, see it if it's your type of movie.
3 stars to 2 1/2 stars: Wait until it comes out on video.
2 stars to 1 star: Don't bother.
0 stars: Speaks for itself.