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Genius at Work - The Great Preston Sturges,
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This review is from: Preston Sturges Collection [DVD] (DVD)
Wonderful boxset from Hollywood's Golden Age from a man whose films from 1940- 1944 remain timeless entertainments and a working manual for how comedies should be made.
In Alphabetical Order
Christmas In July(1940)
Wonderfully winning comedy(and Sturges' most underrated)stars song and dance man Dick Powell as a office clerk who is tricked into believing he has won$25,000 in a slogan writing competition and proceeds to blow the lot on gifts for the neighbours in his street.Beautifully played and the final scene with William Demarest is an absolute gem.
The Great McGinty(1940) Sturges won the Oscar for best original screenplay in this,his directorial debut.Brian Donlevy,not just a screen heavy,plays a politican who rises through the corrupt system to become Governor only to succumb to honesty when he gets there.Sharpness and warmth in equal measure in this incisive comedy.
The Great Moment(1944)A flop on release and the most atypical of the bunch mixing slapstick and melodrama Great Moment tells the story of WTG Morton the doctor who discovered the anaesthetic.Joel McCrea is fine as the doctor whose life is told in flashback courtesy of his wife(a rather lame Betty Field)However William Demarest(yet again )scores as a family friend and there are several powerful moments and tart dialogue.Awkward at times in tone,this film nevertheless deserves to be better known.
Hail The Conquering Hero(1944)Hilarious wartime comedy has Eddie Bracken,through a misunderstanding ,coming home to a hero's welcome from his home town even though he never properly enlisted.Agroup of serving marines convince him to carry on the charade for "your dear old ma".
Whole cast sparkles especially Raymond Walburn as the stuffed shirt of a mayor in this beautifully finessed comedy.
The Lady Eve(1941)Delightful comedy gives Henry Fonda(as a wealthy young turk with a thing for snakes)and Barbara Stanwyck as a professional con artist two of their best ever roles.Witty without being laugh out loud funny this is screwball comedy at it's most endearing.
The Palm Beach Story(1942)Middling screwball comedy has Claudette Colbert as wife who leaves penniless husband to marry into fortune but who finds that her husband(Joel McCrea)does not give up so easily.Stars are well matched but this comedy flags when it should be fizzing.
Sullivans Travels(1941)Sturges'best known film is a tour de force of satirical brilliance marred only by an abrupt shift in tone towards drama in the final act.Joel McCrea plays a Hollywood Director fed up of making"entertainments"who wants to go out in disguise and experience the real America much to his studio bosses horror.When he meets up with waif and stray Veronica Lake who, when she finds out who he is,points out to him just how much realism can a pampered Hollywood type expect to understand the stage is set for some sparkling dialogue and comic situations,The slapstick motorbike chase is hilarious.Lake was never more appealing and although a limited actress it is hard to believe that 20 years later she was an unrecognised waitress in a New York Diner.
Beautiful set for anyone who loves movies.