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Martin Scorsese On John Lloyd Sullivan

He picks five characters who laid it all on the line for their artistic vision.

Played by Joel McCrea
Sullivan's Travels (1941)
Director: Preston Sturges

Studio-system director Sullivan doesn't want to make another fluff film, so he hits the road to learn about the plight of the common man. The depth of his commitment to the exercise is tested regularly and comically—before a shock brings him to an utterly unexpected conclusion.

"It was a different kind of world then, in the studios making three pictures a year. The risk he takes is huge. Billy Wilder told me, 'You're only as good as what your last picture did at the box office.' He was right!"

A version of this article appeared in the December 2011/January 2012 issue of Fast Company magazine.