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.
We enjoy the occasional award show, but Oscar night is our favorite because of the history and tradition associated with it. The Academy Awards debuted way back in 1927; 2015 marks the 87th presentation of these storied statuettes.
As we post this, the chances are pretty good that you are prepping your home prior to the arrival of guests for your Oscar party or perhaps making a batch of guacamole (hopefully, you’re using Boris Karloff’s recipe) to take to a friend’s Academy Awards gathering. If so, we’ve got the perfect hour’s worth of listening to accompany those chores.
The 17th Academy Awards ceremony, held on March 15, 1945, at Grauman’s Chinese Theatre, was the first to be broadcast nationally on the radio (on the Blue Network, the precursor to ABC) and also the first to feature clips from the various nominated pictures. And what pictures they were! Double Indemnity, Going My Way, Lifeboat, Gaslight and The Miracle of Morgan’s Creek are just a few of the classic pictures that were nominated for the top awards that year.
Host Bob Hope was in top form that night, and the proceedings came off in a mere 66 minutes. And you, dear reader, can experience that magical evening anew by clicking the link below.
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.