Monday, November 2, 2009

O Preston, Where Art Thou?

Preston Sturges had a short tenure as a Hollywood "golden" boy lasting little more than a decade, getting screenplay and director credits in over a dozen films, but his must see movies interestingly span a period of 2 years.  He reinvented the screwball comedy style of the thirties for a newer generation.

"The Lady Eve" (1941) Barbara Stanwyck stars as a con artist who is bested by her mark played by Henry Fonda.  She then attempts to pose as another high society heiress (apparently, a wig was all it took back then to become unrecognizable) just for a chance to beat the mark that bested her earlier, she falls for him and true love triumphs.

"Sullivan's Travels" (1941) When a Hollywood director (Joel McCrea) known for his shallow comedies, tries to get the green light for a meaningful drama of the downtrodden, he leaves his posh life behind (but never TOO FAR behind) and rides the rails to rediscover the common man.  He connects with a down and out Veronica Lake, who attempts to help him through his adventure without really knowing his real identity.

"The Palm Beach Story" (1942)  A story of marriage, and deception. Joel McCrea (again) stars with Claudette Colbert star as two sets of twins who hijack the wedding so that each can marry the other.  If this sounds confusing, I'm not surprised. Even with the confusion, this one is a great comedy full of kookie charactersand rapid fire wit that needs to be seen to really be appreciated.

Notable Exceptions: "Hail the Conquering Hero"  Eddie Bracken plays a man returning home with a little more fanfare than expected.  The stories that he told his mother about his assignment to combat are greatly exaggerated, especially since he was rejected by the marines for chronic hayfever, have gotten around town.  Now, instead of coming clean to his mother that he had been working in the San Diego shipyards, he is urged by a few marines, who out of respect for his dead father, (a WWI Marine hero) accept the hero's welcome.

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