Preston Sturges wrote and directed this message comedy about a Hollywood director who joins the homeless and finds an undiscovered actress.
Two men fight on top of a train to the death as the film ends. John Sullivan (Joel McCrea) says he wants to make serious pictures too, but producer Lebrand (Robert Warwick) and says he is better at comedies and has no hard experience. Sullivan says he wants to make "O Brother, Where Art Thou?" Sullivan dresses as a bum and pays his wife. His butler (Robert Greig) warns him that poverty is dangerous. Publicity agents Jones (William Demarest) and Casalsis (Franklin Pangborn) like the idea and offer to help. Sullivan begins with only a dime but is followed by a mobile home. Sullivan gets a ride on a hot-rod with a kid, who drives fast. Sullivan tells those following he will meet them in Las Vegas in two weeks. Sullivan chops wood and is locked in a bedroom by a woman. He falls into a rain barrel and hitches a ride to Hollywood.
A broke actress (Veronica Lake) buys him breakfast and wants to go home. Sullivan gets his car to help her and says he was a director. They are put in jail; but his butler and valet (Eric Blore) get them out. Sullivan tells the girl who he is and takes her to his home. She pushes him in his pool. She asks to go with him and dresses as a boy. The butler and valet take them to a hobo camp, where they hop a freight train. Sullivan sneezes, and she is hungry. They jump off and are given donuts. They go to the mobile home and eat. Sullivan has a cold and is told to stay in bed.
Sullivan and the girl join the hobos again, eating, showering, and sleeping with them. Sullivan's boots wear out. Jones says that Sullivan is going to hand out $5 bills to tramps. Sullivan tells the girl that he married for tax reasons and can't get a divorce. Sullivan hands out money and is knocked out and robbed. The thief is run over by a train. A card is found in his shoe, and Sullivan is reported dead. The producers fail to console the girl. Sullivan finds himself on a train, and in a freight yard he assaults a railroad goon. Dazed Sullivan pleads guilty and is sentenced to six years hard labor. At the prison camp the guard slugs him. Sullivan woks on the chain gang and reads of his death. The guard orders the trustee (Jimmy Conlin) to put Sullivan into the sweat box. He confesses to the murder of Sullivan to get his picture in the paper. The girl tells him that his wife married his business manager. Sullivan plans to marry and tells the producers that he wants to do a comedy so he can make people laugh.
In this Hollywood fantasy that explores the homeless
lifestyle the happy ending seems to let Sullivan out of prison
without explanation. The message that comedies help the poor survive
their miserable treatment is rather superficial.