Here are 10 things you should know about the great screenwriter and director Preston Sturges, born 121 years ago today. From where we sit, he is one of the true giants of cinematic comedy.
The great Preston Sturges would have been 116 today; alas, he made it not much past halfway to that age, dying at 60 in 1959.
But the mark he left of cinematic comedy is indelible and undeniable. He was a much-in-demand screen writer for many years before he ever sat in the director’s chair (among the classic movies he wrote but didn’t direct: The Good Fairy, Easy Living, Remember the Night), and when he finally did began to direct, he upped his game to heights rarely, if ever, equaled.
In a perfect world, you and I could meet for a beer and go see a Sturges comedy tonight. In a theatre with an appreciative audience is the best way to experience his work (as it is, let’s face it, with all funny movies), but since that’s not going to happen, we urge you to cancel your plans and rent any of the aforementioned titles, or any of those below: Sullivan’s Travels, Christmas in July, The Lady Eve, The Miracle of Morgan’s Creek, Unfaithfully Yours, The Palm Beach Story…
You might also pick up his memoir, Preston Sturges by Preston Sturges. His was a life as entertaining and as unlikely as the most outlandish of his pictures, and he tells his story with characteristic panache.
Happy birthday, Mr. Sturges, wherever you may be, and thanks for the laughs.
Dick Powell is the featured star on Monday, August 25, during Turner Classic Movies‘ Summer Under the Stars festival that happens every August. There are any number of pictures airing that day that might be enjoyed, but we noted three particular pictures that feature an appealing diversity of style and genre and demonstrate Powell’s versatility, and so we commend them to you as a collective 4.5 hours well worth watching.
The triple feature kicks off at 8 p.m. ET with the great Preston Sturges comedy Christmas in July (1940), which finds Powell portraying an office clerk who mistakenly believes his entry has been named the winner in a coffee company’s slogan contest. Hilarity, as one might expect, ensues. Next up, at 9:15 p.m., Powell takes a noir turn as Raymond Chandler‘s shamus, Phillip Marlowe, in Murder, My Sweet (1944). Finally, at 11:00 p.m., Powell takes center stage in one of Busby Berkeley‘s more over-the-top musical efforts, Dames (1934).
We say, record the Emmys and watch these three movies on Monday night, but at the very least, fire up the DVR and record this trio of motion pictures for later viewing; you won’t regret it.