Connect with us

Features

Five Of The Best Preston Sturges Movies

Published

on

Five Of The Best Preston Sturges Movies

Preston Sturges made some incredible movies in a very short space of time. Over the course of five years, from 1940-1944, he wrote, produced and directed some of the most memorable movies of the era. Wonderfully satirical and full of sharp, clever dialogue that resonates just as strongly today. He won an academy for The Great McGinty and was nominated twice for scripts in the same year with Hail The Conquering Hero and The Miracle of Morgan’s Creek.

Sturges honed his skills as a scriptwriter in the 1930’s before making his directing debut with The Great McGinty. In his prime he was the only person in Hollywood besides Charlie Chaplin who wrote, produced and directed his own movies.

Despite the popular and critical success of his movies Sturges was too independently minded to keep in with the studio system – Paramount in particular. A partnership with Howard Hughes gave him the independence he craved but the end of the second world war marked a major change in the type of movies audiences wanted to see – erudite, satirical comedy was out and the moody world of film noir was in.

You can see the Sturges influence in modern directors like the Coen brothers and Woody Allen. Here then are our picks of five of his must see movies.

Preston Sturges The Lady Eve

Henry Fonda and Barbara Stanwyck in The Lady Eve.

The Lady Eve (1941)
This is perhaps the perfect movie comedy, with a runaway heiress? Or, in this case, heir?double identities, barbed wit, inspired pratfalls, and the Sturges collection of supporting characters. One could ask for no more. Beer scion Fonda would rather spend his time chasing snakes up exotic rivers than running the family business, until he becomes fascinated with con girl Stanwyck and her crooked pop, Coburn, on an ocean liner. Of course, she falls for Fonda and then loses him when he learns of her occupation. She gets another chance in the guise of visiting royalty and charms everyone at a reception in her honor, including Fonda’s tycoon father Pallette. Our favorite line: after Fonda has most of the formal dinner and drinks spilled on his tux and, finally, on his out-of-season dinner jacket, Pallette intones, “Why don’t you put on a bathing suit!” Well, you have to see it. Academy Award Nomination for Best Original Story.
Cast: Barbara Stanwyck, Charles Coburn, William Demarest, Henry Fonda, Eugene Pallette,

Preston Sturges Sullivan's Travels

Joel McCrea and Virginia Lake in Sullivan’s Travels

Sullivan’s Travels (1941)
Perhaps the greatest of Sturges’s many great comedies, this balances a gimlet-eyed satire of Hollywood with an unsentimental affirmation of the movies’ ability to lift people from their daily lives. When director Joel McCrea tires of the witless comedies for which he has a natural talent, he determines to illustrate on-screen the suffering of the American people in their darkest hour. The studio bosses correctly remind him that he knows nothing about suffering, so McCrea sets out on a mission to acquire firsthand experience of real people’s lives. In his first attempt, the studio flacks and his gentleman’s gentleman make a sham of his sincerity, though he hooks up with waitress and aspiring actress Veronica Lake. But on his next outing, McCrea loses everything: his money, his name, his memory, and his freedom when he’s given the bum’s rush by a railroad cop. But in the work camp, McCrea and his hardened, beaten-down companions revel in a Mickey Mouse cartoon, and the director resolves to find a way back to his calling. The script is fast, twisty, and funny, and Sturges’s usual supporting characters are magnificent.
Cast: Veronica Lake, Joel McCrea, Robert Warwick

Preston Sturges The Palm Beach Story

The Palm Beach Story, Sturges favourite Joel McCrea and Claudette Colbert

The Palm Beach Story (1942)
One of the high points in Sturges’s career is this screwball comedy starring Claudette Colbert and Joel McCrea as a husband and wife whose scheme to finance his inventions leads to a wild excursion to Palm Beach. In a plan that McCrea finds a little too sophisticated, Colbert plans to divorce him and find a rich husband whose money will bankroll his airport design. Into their lives steps the half-deaf “wienie king” – one of Sturges’s most eccentric characters in a filmography loaded with them–as well as billionaire Vallee, his carefree sister Astor and her incomprehensible companion, and a train full of tipsy hunters led by Demarest. The dialogue’s snappy, the situations teeter on the edge of insanity, and the whole is a delight.
Cast: Claudette Colbert, Joel McCrea, William Demarest, Mary Astor, Rudy Vallee

Preston Sturges Miracle of Morgan's Creek

The Miracle of Morgan’s Creek, Porter Hall, Eddie Bracken, Betty Hutton

The Miracle of Morgan’s Creek (1944)
While this celebrated screwball comedy may not rise to the sophisticated heights of his previous masterpieces The Lady Eve (1941) and The Palm Beach Story (1942), Sturges’s familiar blend of fast dialogue and zany slapstick is still apparent. Hutton finds herself pregnant after a night with a soldier she thinks was named “Ratsky-Watsky or something like that” and needs to find a husband, a position that falls to milquetoast bank clerk Bracken. What follows is a chaotic assault on everything sacred in WWII America: motherhood, the military, and family values. The characters of McGinty (Brian Donlevy) and The Boss (Akim Tamiroff), who appear briefly in the 1944 film The Miracle of Morgan’s Creek, were the central characters in the 1940 film The Great McGinty, Preston Sturges’s directorial debut. Academy Award Nomination for Best Original Screenplay.
Cast: Eddie Bracken, William Demarest, Betty Hutton, Diana Lynn

Preston Sturges Hail The Conquering Hero

Eddie Bracken in Hail The Conquering Hero

Hail the Conquering Hero (1944)
Another comic gem from writer-director-producer Sturges. At the start of WWII, Eddie Bracken eagerly enlists in the service only to be soon discharged for his chronic hay fever. His hometown lays out the red carpet when he’s mistakenly credited with bravery at Guadalcanal. The Sturges gang’s all here, with particularly hilarious showings by Demarest and Pangborn. Academy Award Nomination for Best Original Screenplay.
Cast: Eddie Bracken, William Demarest, Franklin Pangborn

Advertisement












Latest

Acts of Violence (2018, Cole Hauser, Bruce Willis)Acts of Violence (2018, Cole Hauser, Bruce Willis)
Movies3 mins ago

Acts of Violence (2018, Cole Hauser, Bruce Willis)

In action thriller Acts of Violence, when his fiancee is kidnapped by human traffickers, Roman and his ex-military brothers set...

Wrecked: Last Meal (tbs 4 Sep 2018)Wrecked: Last Meal (tbs 4 Sep 2018)
Episodes11 mins ago

Wrecked: Last Meal (tbs 4 Sep 2018)

Last Meal: On the eve of The Hunt, Martha offers to the survivors’ one last meal of their choosing —...

L'Âge d'Or (1930, Gaston Modot, Lya Lys)L'Âge d'Or (1930, Gaston Modot, Lya Lys)
Movies16 mins ago

L’Âge d’Or (1930, Gaston Modot, Lya Lys)

No easily identifiable narrative can be found in Bunuel’s classic Surrealist film L’Âge d’Or, which is still shocking all these...

Hit the Floor (VH1 - BET 2013, Kimberly Elise, Taylour Paige) Hit the Floor (VH1 - BET 2013, Kimberly Elise, Taylour Paige) 
TV20 mins ago

Hit the Floor (VH1 – BET 2013, Kimberly Elise, Taylour Paige)

In drama series Hit The Floor Ahsha Hayes enters the wild world of professional basketball when she tries out for the...

Sophie's Choice (1982, Meryl Streep, Kevin Kline)Sophie's Choice (1982, Meryl Streep, Kevin Kline)
Movies30 mins ago

Sophie’s Choice (1982, Meryl Streep, Kevin Kline)

Set in New York in 1947, Sophie’s Choice is an emotionally wrenching account of a young writer’s obsession with a survivor of...

The Barkleys (NBC 1972, Joan Gerber, Julie McWhirter)The Barkleys (NBC 1972, Joan Gerber, Julie McWhirter)
TV1 hour ago

The Barkleys (NBC 1972, Joan Gerber, Julie McWhirter)

Inspired by the classic 70’s sitcom All in the Family (a show that questioned everything about the sitcom genre, turning...

The Lady Eve (1941, Barbara Stanwyck, Henry Fonda)The Lady Eve (1941, Barbara Stanwyck, Henry Fonda)
Movies1 hour ago

The Lady Eve (1941, Barbara Stanwyck, Henry Fonda)

The Lady Eve is perhaps the perfect movie comedy, with a runaway heiress – or, in this case, heir –...

Episodes2 hours ago

Sun, Sea And Selling Houses Episode 18 airs 23 Aug on Channel 4

Sun, Sea and Selling Houses, the overseas property show, continues it’s run. In this episode, Linda and Manuel Rodriguez help...

Singin' in the Rain (MGM 1952, Gene Kelly, Donald O'Connor)Singin' in the Rain (MGM 1952, Gene Kelly, Donald O'Connor)
Movies12 hours ago

Singin’ in the Rain (MGM 1952, Gene Kelly, Donald O’Connor)

Singin’ in the Rain is one of the classic musicals of all time, a stellar cast, led by Gene Kelly, Donald...

Previews

TV