Revisiting the Classics: Sullivan’s Travels

  • Saturday, February 24, 2024 / 2:00 PM - 4:30 PM (PST)
  • Pollock Theater
  • Screening Format: Sony 4K digital projection (90 minutes)
  • With James Hayman (director)
  • Director: Preston Sturges
    Starring: Joel McRea, Veronica Lake, Robert Warwick

Preston Sturges’ satirical comic masterpiece Sullivan’s Travels (1941) follows the journey of successful Hollywood director John L. Sullivan, who embarks on a quest for authenticity and enlightenment to prepare for his upcoming film. Weary of creating frivolous comedies and driven by a desire to understand the struggles of the common man, Sullivan sets out on an odyssey disguised as a poor vagrant, encountering unexpected misadventures and friendship with a struggling young actress played by Veronica Lake. Through Sullivan’s earnest pursuit of authenticity, the film not only satirizes the film industry but also offers a poignant exploration of self-discovery that has solidified its status as an American comedy classic.

Director James Hayman joined moderator Patrice Petro (Dick Wolf Director of the Carsey-Wolf Center) for a pre-screening discussion of the enduring legacy of Preston Sturges’ Sullivan’s Travels.


Director James Hayman is shown standing in an urban area facing to the left side of the frame. He has dark hair and glasses, and is wearing a grey tshirt and black jacket.

Director James Hayman

James Hayman is a multiple Emmy Award nominee who is equally adept at both comedy and drama. He has directed numerous cable and broadcast series, from ABC’s Desperate Housewives to HBO’s groundbreaking series The Sopranos. Hayman has also been the Executive Producing Director for two long-running dramatic series: ABC’s Ugly Betty and CBS’s Judging Amy. He has directed nine pilots in his career, six of which have been picked up to series.

Hayman received a BA in Film from UC Santa Barbara and an MFA from New York University Graduate Film School. He won the Hong Kong award for best cinematography for his work on An Autumn’s Tale. He also photographed the 1988 film Tokyo Pop and the feature film version of Buffy the Vampire Slayer. While working as a cinematographer on the acclaimed television show Northern Exposure, Jim directed the episode “Jules & Joel,” for which he earned a DGA award nomination. In the fifteen years since, Jim has directed numerous pilots, including Dangerous Minds, and To Have and To Hold, as well as many episodes of shows such as ER, Law & Order, and House. He is also known for his work in documentary film. He helped make the film The Man From Hope, which followed Bill and Hilary Clinton through the 1992 campaign. The Man From Hope was showcased at the Democratic Convention that year and later heralded as a strategic aspect of Bill Clinton’s victory in the election.

He is also an accomplished photographer, with shows in Paris, Tokyo, and Florence. His work can be viewed on his website, as well as Instagram.

Patrice Petro, the Dick Wolf Director of the Carsey-Wolf Center, appears against a background of green leaves and pink flowers. She has long black hair and is smiling.

Moderator Patrice Petro

Patrice Petro is Professor of Film and Media Studies, Dick Wolf Director of the Carsey-Wolf Center, and Presidential Chair in Media Studies. She is the author, editor, and co-editor of fourteen books, including Uncanny Histories in Film and Media Studies (2022), The Routledge Companion to Cinema and Gender (with Kristin Hole, Dijana Jelaca, and E. Ann Kaplan, 2017), Teaching Film (2012), Idols of Modernity: Movie Stars of the 1920s (2010), Rethinking Global Security: Media, Popular Culture, and the “War on Terror” (2006), and Aftershocks of the New: Feminism and Film History (2002). She served two terms as President of the Society for Cinema and Media Studies, the largest U.S. professional organization for college and university educators, filmmakers, historians, critics, scholars, and others devoted to the study of the moving image.

 This event is sponsored by the Carsey-Wolf Center.

Revisiting the Classics

What happens when a film becomes a “classic”? The Carsey-Wolf Center’s 2023-24 feature series Revisiting the Classics engages creatively and critically with our filmic past, approaching it with fresh eyes and novel interpretive lenses. Not simply a celebration of the “great works,” Revisiting the Classics will consider how classic texts have shaped the work of contemporary filmmakers, how complicated questions of politics and aesthetics emerge through practices of adaptation and interpretation, and how the changing landscape of film distribution, archiving, preservation, and critique affects the formation of canon and the making of new “classics.”