Preston Sturges
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Preston Sturges (; born Edmund Preston Biden; August 29, 1898 – August 6, 1959) was an American playwright, screenwriter, and film director. In 1941, he won the
Oscar Oscar, OSCAR, or The Oscar may refer to: People * Oscar (given name), an Irish- and English-language name also used in other languages; the article includes the names Oskar, Oskari, Oszkár, Óscar, and other forms. * Oscar (Irish mythology), ...
for
Best Original Screenplay The Academy Award for Best Original Screenplay is the Academy Award for the best screenplay not based upon previously published material. It was created in 1940 as a separate writing award from the Academy Award for Best Story. Beginning with the ...
for the film ''
The Great McGinty ''The Great McGinty'' is a 1940 political satire comedy film written and directed by Preston Sturges, starring Brian Donlevy and Akim Tamiroff and featuring William Demarest and (in her final screen appearance) Muriel Angelus. It was Sturges's fir ...
'' (1940), his first of three nominations in the category. Sturges took the
screwball comedy Screwball comedy is a subgenre of the romantic comedy genre that became popular during the Great Depression, beginning in the early 1930s and thriving until the early 1940s, that satirizes the traditional love story. It has secondary characteristi ...
format of the 1930s to another level, writing dialogue that, heard today, is often surprisingly naturalistic, mature, and ahead of its time, despite the farcical situations. It is not uncommon for a Sturges character to deliver an exquisitely turned phrase and take an elaborate pratfall within the same scene. Prior to Sturges, other figures in Hollywood (such as
Charlie Chaplin Sir Charles Spencer Chaplin Jr. (16 April 188925 December 1977) was an English comic actor, filmmaker, and composer who rose to fame in the era of silent film. He became a worldwide icon through his screen persona, the Tramp, and is consider ...
, D. W. Griffith, and
Frank Capra Frank Russell Capra (born Francesco Rosario Capra; May 18, 1897 – September 3, 1991) was an Italian-born American film director, producer and writer who became the creative force behind some of the major award-winning films of the 1930s ...
) had directed films from their own scripts; however, Sturges is often regarded as the first Hollywood figure to establish success as a screenwriter and then move into directing his own scripts, at a time when those roles were separate. Sturges famously sold the story for ''The Great McGinty'' to
Paramount Pictures Paramount Pictures Corporation is an American film and television production company, production and Distribution (marketing), distribution company and the main namesake division of Paramount Global (formerly ViacomCBS). It is the fifth-oldes ...
for $10, in return for being allowed to direct the film. He was also the screenplay writer and director of ''
The Lady Eve ''The Lady Eve'' is a 1941 American screwball comedy film written and directed by Preston Sturges and starring Barbara Stanwyck and Henry Fonda.
'' (1941), ''
Sullivan's Travels ''Sullivan's Travels'' is a 1941 American comedy film written and directed by Preston Sturges. A satire on the film industry, it follows a famous Hollywood comedy director (Joel McCrea) who, longing to make a socially relevant drama, sets out to ...
'' (1941), and ''
The Palm Beach Story ''The Palm Beach Story'' is a 1942 screwball comedy film written and directed by Preston Sturges, and starring Claudette Colbert, Joel McCrea, Mary Astor and Rudy Vallée. Victor Young contributed the musical score, including a fast-paced variati ...
'' (1942), each considered to be classic comedies. In 1944, Sturges received two Academy Award nominations for Best Screenplay - for ''
The Miracle of Morgan's Creek ''The Miracle of Morgan's Creek'' is a 1944 American screwball comedy film written and directed by Preston Sturges, starring Eddie Bracken and Betty Hutton, and featuring Diana Lynn, William Demarest and Porter Hall. Brian Donlevy and Akim Tamir ...
'' and ''
Hail the Conquering Hero ''Hail the Conquering Hero'' (1944) is a satirical comedy-drama film written and directed by Preston Sturges, starring Eddie Bracken, Ella Raines and William Demarest, and featuring Raymond Walburn, Franklin Pangborn, Elizabeth Patterson, Bill ...
''.


Early life

Sturges was born in
Chicago (''City in a Garden''); I Will , image_map = , map_caption = Interactive Map of Chicago , coordinates = , coordinates_footnotes = , subdivision_type = Country , subdivision_name ...
,
Illinois Illinois ( ) is a U.S. state, state in the Midwestern United States, Midwestern United States. Its largest metropolitan areas include the Chicago metropolitan area, and the Metro East section, of Greater St. Louis. Other smaller metropolita ...
, the son of Mary Estelle Dempsey (later known as Mary Desti or Mary D'Este) and travelling salesman Edmund C. Biden. His maternal grandparents, Catherine Campbell Smyth and Dominick d'Este Dempsey, were immigrants from
Ireland Ireland ( ; ga, Éire ; Ulster Scots dialect, Ulster-Scots: ) is an island in the Atlantic Ocean, North Atlantic Ocean, in Northwestern Europe, north-western Europe. It is separated from Great Britain to its east by the North Channel (Grea ...
, and his father was of
English English usually refers to: * English language * English people English may also refer to: Peoples, culture, and language * ''English'', an adjective for something of, from, or related to England ** English national ide ...
descent. When Sturges was three years old, his eccentric mother left America to pursue a singing career in Paris, where she annulled her marriage with Preston's father. Returning to America, Dempsey met her third husband, the wealthy
stockbroker A stockbroker is a regulated broker, broker-dealer, or registered investment adviser (in the United States) who may provide financial advisory and investment management services and execute transactions such as the purchase or sale of stocks an ...
Solomon Sturges, who adopted Preston in 1902. According to biographers, Solomon Sturges was "diametrically opposite to Mary and her bohemianism". This included her close friendship with
Isadora Duncan Angela Isadora Duncan (May 26, 1877 or May 27, 1878 – September 14, 1927) was an American dancer and choreographer, who was a pioneer of modern contemporary dance, who performed to great acclaim throughout Europe and the US. Born and raised in ...
, as the young Sturges would sometimes travel from country to country with Duncan's dance company. Mary also carried on a romantic affair with
Aleister Crowley Aleister Crowley (; born Edward Alexander Crowley; 12 October 1875 – 1 December 1947) was an English occultist, ceremonial magician, poet, painter, novelist, and mountaineer. He founded the religion of Thelema, identifying himself as the pro ...
and collaborated with him on his magnum opus '' Magick''. As a young man, Sturges bounced back and forth between Europe and the United States. As Sturges spent much of his childhood and youth in France, he ended up fluent in French and a
Francophile A Francophile, also known as Gallophile, is a person who has a strong affinity towards any or all of the French language, French history, French culture and/or French people. That affinity may include France itself or its history, language, cuisin ...
who always considered France his "second home". In 1916, he worked as a runner for New York stock brokers, a position he obtained through Solomon Sturges. The next year, he enlisted in the
United States Army Air Service The United States Army Air Service (USAAS)Craven and Cate Vol. 1, p. 9 (also known as the ''"Air Service"'', ''"U.S. Air Service"'' and before its legislative establishment in 1920, the ''"Air Service, United States Army"'') was the aerial war ...
, and graduated as a lieutenant from Camp Dick in
Texas Texas (, ; Spanish language, Spanish: ''Texas'', ''Tejas'') is a state in the South Central United States, South Central region of the United States. At 268,596 square miles (695,662 km2), and with more than 29.1 million residents in 2 ...
without seeing action. While at camp, Sturges wrote an essay, "Three Hundred Words of Humor", which was printed in the camp newspaper, becoming his first published work. Returning from camp, Sturges picked up a managing position at the Desti Emporium in New York, a store owned by his mother's fourth husband. He spent eight years (1919–1927) there, until he married the first of his four wives, Estelle De Wolfe. Sturges' 1928 turn to playwriting was accidental. While on a date with a young actress of certain renown, the actress informed Sturges that while she had pretended to find him witty and charming, she actually considered him a bore. "The only reason I'm going out with you, sir, is for the same reason that a scientist embraces a guinea pig; I just like to try my situations out on you to see how they turn out." She claimed that the dramatic research was for a play she was writing. Outraged, Sturges told her that if she could write a play, he could write a play, but that his would be better and run longer. Within two months, he had written his first play: '' The Guinea Pig'', only to find out that she wasn't writing a play at all, and that she was surprised and flattered that he had taken her ravings so seriously.


Career


From Broadway to Hollywood

In 1928, Sturges performed on Broadway in ''Hotbed'', a short-lived play by
Paul Osborn Paul Osborn (September 4, 1901 – May 12, 1988) was an American playwright and screenwriter. Osborn's original plays are '' The Vinegar Tree'', ''Oliver Oliver'', and ''Morning's at Seven'' and among his several successful adaptations, ''On Borr ...
, and Sturges' first produced play, ''The Guinea Pig'', opened in Massachusetts. The play was a success and Sturges moved it to Broadway the following year, a turning point in his career. That same year also saw the opening of Sturges' second play, the hit '' Strictly Dishonorable''. Written in just six days, the play ran for sixteen months and earned Sturges over $300,000, a staggering amount at the time. It attracted interest from Hollywood, and Sturges was writing for
Paramount Paramount (from the word ''paramount'' meaning "above all others") may refer to: Entertainment and music companies * Paramount Global, also known simply as Paramount, an American mass media company formerly known as ViacomCBS. The following busin ...
by the end of the year. Three other Sturges stage plays were produced from 1930 to 1932, one of them a
musical Musical is the adjective of music. Musical may also refer to: * Musical theatre, a performance art that combines songs, spoken dialogue, acting and dance * Musical film and television, a genre of film and television that incorporates into the narr ...
, but none of them were hits. By the end of the year, he was working more in Hollywood as a writer-for-hire, operating on short contracts, for
Universal Universal is the adjective for universe. Universal may also refer to: Companies * NBCUniversal, a media and entertainment company ** Universal Animation Studios, an American Animation studio, and a subsidiary of NBCUniversal ** Universal TV, a ...
,
MGM Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Studios Inc., also known as Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Pictures and abbreviated as MGM, is an American film, television production, distribution and media company owned by Amazon through MGM Holdings, founded on April 17, 1924 a ...
, and Columbia studios. He also sold his original screenplay for ''
The Power and the Glory ''The Power and the Glory'' is a 1940 novel by British author Graham Greene. The title is an allusion to the doxology often recited at the end of the Lord's Prayer: "For thine is the kingdom, the power, and the glory, forever and ever, amen." ...
'' (1933) to
Fox Foxes are small to medium-sized, omnivorous mammals belonging to several genera of the family Canidae. They have a flattened skull, upright, triangular ears, a pointed, slightly upturned snout, and a long bushy tail (or ''brush''). Twelve sp ...
, where it was filmed as a vehicle for
Spencer Tracy Spencer Bonaventure Tracy (April 5, 1900 – June 10, 1967) was an American actor. He was known for his natural performing style and versatility. One of the major stars of Hollywood's Golden Age, Tracy was the first actor to win two cons ...
. The film told the story of a self-involved financier via a series of flashbacks and flashforwards, and was an acknowledged source of inspiration for the screenwriters of ''
Citizen Kane ''Citizen Kane'' is a 1941 American drama film produced by, directed by, and starring Orson Welles. He also co-wrote the screenplay with Herman J. Mankiewicz. The picture was Welles' first feature film. ''Citizen Kane'' is frequently cited ...
''. Fox producer
Jesse Lasky Jesse Louis Lasky (September 13, 1880 – January 13, 1958) was an American pioneer Film producer, motion picture producer who was a key founder of what was to become Paramount Pictures, and father of screenwriter Jesse L. Lasky Jr. Early life ...
had been prepared to customarily pass Sturges' screenplay along to other writers for rewriting, but said, "It was the most perfect script I'd ever seen ... Imagine a producer accepting a script from an author and not being able to make one change." Lasky paid Sturges $17,500 plus 7% of the profits above $1 million. It was a then-unprecedented deal for a screenwriter, which instantly elevated Sturges' reputation in Hollywood – although the lucrative deal irritated as many as it impressed. Sturges later recalled, "The film made a lot of enemies. Writers at that time worked in teams, like piano movers. And my first solo script was considered a distinct menace to the profession." For the remainder of the 1930s, Sturges operated under the strict auspices of the studio system, working on a string of scripts, some of which were shelved, sometimes with screen credit and sometimes not. While he was highly paid, earning $2,500 a week, he was unhappy with the way directors were handling his dialogue, and he resolved to take creative control of his own projects. He accomplished this goal in 1939 by trading his screenplay for ''
The Great McGinty ''The Great McGinty'' is a 1940 political satire comedy film written and directed by Preston Sturges, starring Brian Donlevy and Akim Tamiroff and featuring William Demarest and (in her final screen appearance) Muriel Angelus. It was Sturges's fir ...
'' (written six years earlier) to Paramount in exchange for the chance to direct it. Paramount promoted the unusual deal as part of the film's publicity, saying that Sturges had received just ten dollars. Sturges' success quickly paved the way for similar deals for such writer-directors as
Billy Wilder Billy Wilder (; ; born Samuel Wilder; June 22, 1906 – March 27, 2002) was an Austrian-American filmmaker. His career in Hollywood spanned five decades, and he is regarded as one of the most brilliant and versatile filmmakers of Classic Holl ...
and
John Huston John Marcellus Huston ( ; August 5, 1906 – August 28, 1987) was an American film director, screenwriter, actor and visual artist. He wrote the screenplays for most of the 37 feature films he directed, many of which are today considered ...
. Sturges said, "It's taken me eight years to reach what I wanted. But now, if I don't run out of ideas – and I won't – we'll have some fun. There are some wonderful pictures to be made, and God willing, I will make some of them."


Screenwriting heights

Sturges won the first-ever
Academy Award for Writing Original Screenplay The Academy Award for Best Original Screenplay is the Academy Award for the best screenplay not based upon previously published material. It was created in 1940 as a separate writing award from the Academy Award for Best Story. Beginning with the ...
for ''The Great McGinty''. He also received two screenwriting Academy Award nominations in the same year, for 1944's ''
Hail the Conquering Hero ''Hail the Conquering Hero'' (1944) is a satirical comedy-drama film written and directed by Preston Sturges, starring Eddie Bracken, Ella Raines and William Demarest, and featuring Raymond Walburn, Franklin Pangborn, Elizabeth Patterson, Bill ...
'' and ''
The Miracle of Morgan's Creek ''The Miracle of Morgan's Creek'' is a 1944 American screwball comedy film written and directed by Preston Sturges, starring Eddie Bracken and Betty Hutton, and featuring Diana Lynn, William Demarest and Porter Hall. Brian Donlevy and Akim Tamir ...
'', a feat since matched by Frank Butler,
Francis Ford Coppola Francis Ford Coppola (; ; born April 7, 1939) is an American film director, producer, and screenwriter. He is considered one of the major figures of the New Hollywood filmmaking movement of the 1960s and 1970s. Coppola is the recipient of five A ...
, and
Oliver Stone William Oliver Stone (born September 15, 1946) is an American film director, producer, and screenwriter. Stone won an Academy Award for Best Adapted Screenplay as writer of '' Midnight Express'' (1978), and wrote the gangster film remake '' Sc ...
. (In the second Academy Awards, under a different nomination process, eleven screenplays were considered, including two by
Bess Meredyth Bess Meredyth (born Helen Elizabeth MacGlashen, February 12, 1890 – July 13, 1969) was a screenwriter and silent film actress. The wife of film director Michael Curtiz, Meredyth wrote ''The Affairs of Cellini'' (1934) and adapted ''The Unsuspec ...
, two by Tom Barry, two by
Hanns Kräly Hanns Kräly (January 16, 1884 – November 11, 1950), credited in the United States as Hans Kraly, was a German actor and screenwriter. His main collaborations were with director Ernst Lubitsch, and they worked together on 30 films between 1915 ...
and four by
Elliott J. Clawson Elliott J. Clawson (January 19, 1883 – July 21, 1942) was an American screenwriter. He wrote for more than 80 films between 1913 and 1929. He was born in Salt Lake City, Utah, and died in Vista, California. At the 2nd Academy Awards in 19 ...
.) Though he had a thirty-year Hollywood career, Sturges' greatest comedies were filmed in a furious five-year burst of activity from 1939 to 1944, during which he turned out ''The Great McGinty'', ''
Christmas in July Christmas in July, Christmas in Summer or Christmas in Winter is a second Christmas celebration held around the summer season, mainly during July. It is centered around Christmas-themed activities and entertainment, including small gatherings, se ...
'', ''
The Lady Eve ''The Lady Eve'' is a 1941 American screwball comedy film written and directed by Preston Sturges and starring Barbara Stanwyck and Henry Fonda.
'', ''
Sullivan's Travels ''Sullivan's Travels'' is a 1941 American comedy film written and directed by Preston Sturges. A satire on the film industry, it follows a famous Hollywood comedy director (Joel McCrea) who, longing to make a socially relevant drama, sets out to ...
'', ''
The Palm Beach Story ''The Palm Beach Story'' is a 1942 screwball comedy film written and directed by Preston Sturges, and starring Claudette Colbert, Joel McCrea, Mary Astor and Rudy Vallée. Victor Young contributed the musical score, including a fast-paced variati ...
'', ''The Miracle of Morgan's Creek'' and ''Hail the Conquering Hero'', for each of which he served as both screenplay writer and the director. Half a century later, four of these – ''The Lady Eve'', ''Sullivan's Travels'', ''The Palm Beach Story'' and ''The Miracle of Morgan's Creek'' – were chosen by the
American Film Institute The American Film Institute (AFI) is an American nonprofit film organization that educates filmmakers and honors the heritage of the motion picture arts in the United States. AFI is supported by private funding and public membership fees. Leade ...
as being among the 100 funniest American films. The film critic Ephraim Katz wrote that Sturges films "...parodied with pungent wit various aspects of American life from politics and advertising to sex and hero worship. They were marked by their verbal wit, opportune comic timing, and eccentric, outrageously funny camo characterizations." Film critic
Andrew Sarris Andrew Sarris (October 31, 1928 – June 20, 2012) was an American film critic. He was a leading proponent of the auteur theory of film criticism. Early life Sarris was born in Brooklyn, New York, to Greek immigrant parents, Themis (née Katav ...
wrote, "Sturges repeatedly suggested that the lowliest boob could rise to the top with the right degree of luck, bluff, and fraud." Sarris, Andrew (1968) ''The American Cinema: Directors and Directions 1929-1968'' New York: Dutton Publishing. . p.113 Critic Andrew Dickos wrote that "the touchstone of Preston Sturges' screenwriting lies in the respect paid to the play and density of verbal language" and "establishes the standard of eloquence as one of poetry, of a cacophony of Euro-American vernacularisms and utterances, peculiarly—and appropriately—spoken with scandalous indifference." Sturges' rich writing style has been described as that of "a lowbrow aristocrat, a melancholy wiseguy." His scripts were almost congenitally unable to deliver a single mood. In ''Hail the Conquering Hero'', the series of lies, crimes, and embarrassments all somehow bolster the film's theme of patriotism and duty. Sometimes this attitude could be conveyed in a single line of dialogue, such as in ''The Lady Eve'' when Jean Harrington (Barbara Stanwyck) vows revenge on Charles Pike (Henry Fonda), declaring, "I need him like the axe needs the turkey." In recent years, film scholars such as Alessandro Pirolini have also argued that Sturges' cinema anticipated more experimental narratives by contemporary directors such as
Joel Joel or Yoel is a name meaning "Yahweh Is God" and may refer to: * Joel (given name), origin of the name including a list of people with the first name. * Joel (surname), a surname * Joel (footballer, born 1904), Joel de Oliveira Monteiro, Brazili ...
and
Ethan Coen Joel Daniel Coen (born November 29, 1954) and Ethan Jesse Coen (born September 21, 1957),State of Minnesota. ''Minnesota Birth Index, 1935–2002''. Minnesota Department of Health. collectively known as the Coen brothers (), are American film ...
,
Robert Zemeckis Robert Lee Zemeckis (born May 14, 1952) is an American filmmaker. He first came to public attention as the director of the action-adventure romantic comedy ''Romancing the Stone'' (1984), the science-fiction comedy ''Back to the Future'' film tr ...
, and
Woody Allen Heywood "Woody" Allen (born Allan Stewart Konigsberg; November 30, 1935) is an American film director, writer, actor, and comedian whose career spans more than six decades and multiple Academy Award-winning films. He began his career writing ...
, along with prolific ''
The Simpsons ''The Simpsons'' is an American animated sitcom created by Matt Groening for the Fox Broadcasting Company. The series is a satirical depiction of American life, epitomized by the Simpson family, which consists of Homer, Marge, Bart, Lisa, ...
'' writer
John Swartzwelder John Joseph Swartzwelder Jr. (born February 8, 1949) is an American comedy writer and novelist, best known for his work on the animated television series ''The Simpsons''. Born in Seattle, Washington, Swartzwelder began his career working in adv ...
: "Many of turges'movies and screenplays reveal a restless and impatient attempt to escape codified rules and narrative schemata, and to push the mechanisms and conventions of their genre to the extent of unveiling them to the spectator. See for example the disruption of standardized timelines in films such as ''
The Power and the Glory ''The Power and the Glory'' is a 1940 novel by British author Graham Greene. The title is an allusion to the doxology often recited at the end of the Lord's Prayer: "For thine is the kingdom, the power, and the glory, forever and ever, amen." ...
'' and ''The Great McGinty'' or the way an apparently classical comedy such as '' Unfaithfully Yours'' (1948) shifts into the realm of multiple and hypothetical narratives."Pirolini, Alessandro (2010) ''The Cinema of Preston Sturges: A Critical Study''. McFarland & Co. In 1942, in his review of ''
The Palm Beach Story ''The Palm Beach Story'' is a 1942 screwball comedy film written and directed by Preston Sturges, and starring Claudette Colbert, Joel McCrea, Mary Astor and Rudy Vallée. Victor Young contributed the musical score, including a fast-paced variati ...
'', critic
Manny Farber Emanuel Farber (February 20, 1917 – August 18, 2008) was an American painter, film critic and writer. Often described as "iconoclastic",Grimes, William (August 19, 2008) ''New York Times''Kiderra, Inga (August 21, 2008Obituary: Artist and Crit ...
wrote:
He is essentially a satirist without any stable point of view from which to aim his satire. He is apt to turn his back on what he has been sniping at to demolish what he has just been defending. He is contemptuous of everybody except the opportunist and the unscrupulous little woman who, at some point in every picture, labels the hero a poor sap. That the invariable fairy godfather of each picture is not only expressive of his own cold-blooded cynicism but of typical Hollywood fantasy is an example of how this works. Another phase of his attack is shrouding in slapstick the fact that the godfather pays off not for perseverance or honesty or ability but merely from capriciousness.


Studio battles

Production on these films did not always go smoothly. ''The Miracle of Morgan's Creek'' was being written by Sturges at night even as the production was being filmed in the daytime, and Sturges the screenwriter was rarely more than 10 pages ahead of the cast and crew. Despite box office success for ''The Lady Eve'' and ''The Miracle of Morgan's Creek'', conflict with Paramount's studio bosses increased. In particular, executive producer
Buddy DeSylva George Gard "Buddy" DeSylva (January 27, 1895 – July 11, 1950) was an American songwriter, film producer and record executive. He wrote or co-wrote many popular songs and, along with Johnny Mercer and Glenn Wallichs, he co-founded Capitol Re ...
never really trusted his star writer-director and was wary (and arguably jealous) of the independence Sturges enjoyed on his projects. One of the sources of conflict was that Sturges liked to reuse many of the same character actors in his films, thus creating what amounted to a regular troupe he could call upon within the studio system. Paramount feared that the audience would tire of repeatedly seeing the same faces in Sturges productions. But the director was adamant, stating, " ese little players who had contributed so much to my first hits had a moral right to work in my subsequent pictures." The way Sturges wrote and directed these actors created a succession of what film critic
Andrew Sarris Andrew Sarris (October 31, 1928 – June 20, 2012) was an American film critic. He was a leading proponent of the auteur theory of film criticism. Early life Sarris was born in Brooklyn, New York, to Greek immigrant parents, Themis (née Katav ...
later called "self-expressive cameos of aggressive individualism." Members of Sturges' unofficial "stock company" included: George Anderson,
Al Bridge Alfred Morton Bridge (February 26, 1891 – December 27, 1957) was an American character actor who played mostly small roles in over 270 films between 1931 and 1954. Bridge's persona was an unpleasant, gravel-voiced man with an untidy mous ...
,
Georgia Caine Georgiana Caine (October 30, 1876 – April 4, 1964) was an American actress who performed both on Broadway and in more than 80 films in her 51-year career. Early career Born in San Francisco, California in 1876, the daughter of two Shak ...
,
Chester Conklin Chester Cooper Conklin (January 11, 1886 – October 11, 1971) was an early American film comedian who started at Keystone Studios as one of Mack Sennett’s Keystone Cops, often paired with Mack Swain. He appeared in a series of films with ...
,
Jimmy Conlin Jimmy Conlin (October 14, 1884 – May 7, 1962) was an American character actor who appeared in almost 150 films in his 32-year career. Career Conlin was born in Camden, New Jersey in 1884, and his acting career started out in vaudeville, ...
,
William Demarest Carl William Demarest (February 27, 1892 – December 27, 1983) was an American character actor, known especially for his roles in screwball comedies by Preston Sturges and for playing Uncle Charley in the sitcom ''My Three Sons'' Demarest, w ...
,Demarest appeared in ten films written by Sturges, eight of which he also directed: ''
Diamond Jim ''Diamond Jim'' is a 1935 biographical film based on the published biography ''Diamond Jim Brady'' by Parker Morell. It follows the life of legendary entrepreneur James Buchanan Brady, including his romance with entertainer Lillian Russell, and s ...
'' (1935), '' Easy Living'' (1937), ''The Great McGinty'' (1940), ''Christmas in July'' (1940), ''The Lady Eve'' (1941), ''Sullivan's Travels'' (1941), ''The Palm Beach Story'' (1942), ''The Miracle of Morgan's Creek'' (1944), ''Hail the Conquering Hero'' (1944) and '' The Great Moment'' (1944)
Robert Dudley,
Byron Foulger Byron Kay Foulger (August 27, 1898 – April 4, 1970) was an American character actor who over a 50-year career performed in hundreds of stage, film, and television productions. Early years Born in Ogden, Utah, Byron was the second of four ...
,
Robert Greig Robert Greig (December 27, 1879 – June 27, 1958) was an Australian-American actor who appeared in more than 100 films between 1930 and 1949, usually as the dutiful butler. Born Arthur Alfred Bede Greig, he was the nephew of Australian pol ...
,
Harry Hayden Harry may refer to: TV shows * ''Harry'' (American TV series), a 1987 American comedy series starring Alan Arkin * ''Harry'' (British TV series), a 1993 BBC drama that ran for two seasons * ''Harry'' (talk show), a 2016 American daytime talk show ...
,
Esther Howard Esther Howard (April 4, 1892 – March 8, 1965) was an American stage and film character actress who played a wide range of supporting roles, from man-hungry spinsters to amoral criminals, appearing in 108 films in her 23-year screen career ...
,
Arthur Hoyt Arthur Hoyt (March 19, 1874 – January 4, 1953) was an American film character actor who appeared in more than 275 films in his 34-year film career, about a third of them silent films. Career Born in Georgetown, Colorado, in 1874, Hoyt ma ...
,
J. Farrell MacDonald John Farrell MacDonald (June 6, 1875 – August 2, 1952) was an American character actor and director. He played supporting roles and occasional leads. He appeared in over 325 films over a four-decade career from 1911 to 1951, and directed fort ...
,
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,
Torben Meyer Torben Emil Meyer (1 December 1884 – 22 May 1975) was a Danish-American character actor who appeared in more than 190 films in a 55-year career. He began his acting career in Europe before moving to the United States. Early life Meyer was ...
, Charles R. Moore,
Frank Moran Francis Charles Moran (18 March 1887 – 14 December 1967) was an American boxer and film actor who fought twice for the Heavyweight Championship of the World, and appeared in over 135 movies in a 25-year film career. Sports career Born i ...
,
Jack Norton Jack Norton (born Mortimer John Naughton; September 2, 1882 – October 15, 1958) was an American stage and film character actor who appeared in more than 180 films between 1934 and 1948, often playing drunks, although in real life he was a ...
, Jane Buckingham,
Franklin Pangborn Franklin Pangborn (January 23, 1889 – July 20, 1958) was an American comedic character actor famous for playing small but memorable roles with comic flair. He appeared in many Preston Sturges movies as well as the W. C. Fields films '' Interna ...
,
Emory Parnell Emory Parnell (December 29, 1892 – June 22, 1979) was an American vaudeville performer and actor who appeared in over 250 films in his 36-year career. Early years Born in St. Paul, Minnesota, Parnell trained as a musician at Morningside ...
,
Victor Potel Victor Potel (October 12, 1889 – March 8, 1947) was an American film character actor who began in the silent era and appeared in more than 430 films in his 38-year career. Career Victor Potel was born in Lafayette, Indiana in 1889, and his ...
,
Dewey Robinson Dewey Robinson (August 17, 1898 – December 11, 1950) was an American film character actor who appeared in more than 250 films made between 1931 and 1952. Career Dewey Robinson was born in New Haven, Connecticut, in 1898, and made his B ...
,
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,
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,
Max Wagner Max Wagner (November 28, 1901 – November 16, 1975) was a Mexican-born American film actor who specialized in playing small parts such as thugs, gangsters, sailors, henchmen, bodyguards, cab drivers and moving men, appearing more than 400 ...
and
Robert Warwick Robert Warwick (born Robert Taylor Bien, October 9, 1878 – June 6, 1964) was an American stage, film and television actor with over 200 film appearances. A matinee idol during the silent film era, he also prospered after the introduction ...
. In addition, Sturges re-used other actors, such as
Sig Arno Sig Arno (born Siegfried Aron, 27 December 1895 – 17 August 1975) was a German-Jewish film actor who appeared in such films as ''Pardon My Sarong'' and ''The Mummy's Hand''. He may be best remembered from ''The Palm Beach Story'' (1942) as Toto ...
,
Luis Alberni Luis Alberni (October 4, 1886 – December 23, 1962) was a Spanish-born American character actor of stage and films. Early years Alberni was born in Barcelona, Spain, on October 4, 1886. He acted in stock theater for four years in Marseille ...
,
Eric Blore Eric Blore Sr. (23 December 1887 – 2 March 1959) was an English actor and writer. His early stage career, mostly in the West End of London, centred on revue and musical comedy, but also included straight plays. He wrote sketches for and appe ...
,
Porter Hall Clifford Porter Hall (September 19, 1888 – October 6, 1953) was an American character actor known for appearing in a number of films in the 1930s and 1940s. Hall typically played villains or comedic incompetent characters. Early years Hall wa ...
and
Raymond Walburn Raymond Walburn (September 9, 1887 – July 26, 1969) was an American character actor of stage and screen who appeared in dozens of Hollywood movie comedies and an occasional dramatic role during the 1930s and 1940s. Life and career Born i ...
, and even stars such as
Joel McCrea Joel Albert McCrea (November 5, 1905 – October 20, 1990) was an American actor whose career spanned a wide variety of genres over almost five decades, including comedy, drama, romance, thrillers, adventures, and Westerns, for which he beca ...
and
Rudy Vallee Rudy or Rudi is a masculine given name, sometimes short for Rudolf, Rudolph, Rawad, Rudra, Ruairidh, or variations thereof, a nickname and a surname which may refer to: People Given name or nickname *Rudolf Rudy Andeweg (born 1952), Dutch poli ...
, who both made three films with Sturges, and
Eddie Bracken Edward Vincent Bracken (February 7, 1915 – November 14, 2002) was an American actor. Bracken became a Hollywood comedy legend with lead performances in the films ''Hail the Conquering Hero'' and ''The Miracle of Morgan's Creek'' both from ...
, who did two. The prolonged clashes between Sturges and Paramount came to a head as the end of his contract approached. He had filmed ''The Great Moment'' and ''The Miracle of Morgan's Creek'' in 1942 and ''Hail the Conquering Hero'' in 1943, but Paramount was suffering from a surfeit of films. Indeed, some of the studio's finished movies were sold off to
United Artists United Artists Corporation (UA), currently doing business as United Artists Digital Studios, is an American digital production company. Founded in 1919 by D. W. Griffith, Charlie Chaplin, Mary Pickford, and Douglas Fairbanks, the studi ...
, which needed films to distribute.This included a film Sturges was involved with as producer, ''
I Married A Witch ''I Married a Witch'' is a 1942 American fantasy romantic comedy film, directed by René Clair, and starring Veronica Lake as a witch whose plan for revenge goes comically awry, with Fredric March as her foil. The film also features Robert Benchl ...
''.
The studio held onto Sturges' three films, since he was their star filmmaker at the time, but did not immediately release them. Internally, studio heads expressed serious reservations about them, as did the censors at the
Breen Office The Motion Picture Production Code was a set of industry guidelines for the self-censorship of content that was applied to most motion pictures released by major studios in the United States from 1934 to 1968. It is also popularly known as the ...
. Sturges managed to get ''The Miracle of Morgan's Creek'' released with only minor changes, but ''The Great Moment'' and ''Hail the Conquering Hero'' were taken out of his control and tinkered with by DeSylva. When the revamped ''Hail the Conquering Hero'' had a disastrous preview, Paramount allowed Sturges – who by that time had left the studio – to come back and fix the film. Sturges did some rewriting, shot some new scenes, and re-edited the film back to his original vision, all without pay. He was unable to similarly rescue ''The Great Moment'', however. The historical biography about the dentist who discovered the use of ether for anesthesia ended up being Sturges' only flop during this period. More significantly, it marked the onset of a downturn from which Sturges did not fully recover.Katz, Ephraim (1979) ''The Film Encyclopedia'', New York:Harper & Row. p.1107


Independence and decline

Preston Sturges was a temperamental talent who fully recognized his own worth. He had invested in entrepreneurial projects, such as an engineering company, and The Players, a popular restaurant and nightclub at 8225
Sunset Boulevard Sunset Boulevard is a boulevard in the central and western part of Los Angeles, California, that stretches from the Pacific Coast Highway in Pacific Palisades east to Figueroa Street in Downtown Los Angeles. It is a major thoroughfare in t ...
, projects which were both net losses. At one point the third highest paid man in America – for writing, directing, producing, and numerous other Hollywood projects – he was often known to borrow money (from his stepfather and studio, amongst others). Millionaire
Howard Hughes Howard Robard Hughes Jr. (December 24, 1905 – April 5, 1976) was an American business magnate, record-setting pilot, engineer, film producer, and philanthropist, known during his lifetime as one of the most influential and richest people in th ...
, who had formed a friendship with Sturges, offered to bankroll him as an independent filmmaker. In early 1944, Sturges and Hughes formed a partnership called California Pictures. The deal represented a major pay cut for Sturges, but it established him as a writer-producer-director, the only one in Hollywood besides
Charles Chaplin Sir Charles Spencer Chaplin Jr. (16 April 188925 December 1977) was an English comic actor, filmmaker, and composer who rose to fame in the era of silent film. He became a worldwide icon through his screen persona, the Tramp, and is consider ...
and one of only four in the world, along with England's
Noël Coward Sir Noël Peirce Coward (16 December 189926 March 1973) was an English playwright, composer, director, actor, and singer, known for his wit, flamboyance, and what ''Time'' magazine called "a sense of personal style, a combination of cheek and ...
and France's
René Clair René Clair (11 November 1898 – 15 March 1981), born René-Lucien Chomette, was a French filmmaker and writer. He first established his reputation in the 1920s as a director of silent films in which comedy was often mingled with fantasy. He wen ...
. The status led, again, to widespread admiration and envy among his Hollywood peers. However, this career peak also marked the beginning of Sturges' professional decline as Hughes proved an unstable and mercurial partner. While the startup California Pictures was being created and structured, it was three years until Sturges' next release. That film, a
Harold Lloyd Harold Clayton Lloyd, Sr. (April 20, 1893 – March 8, 1971) was an American actor, comedian, and stunt performer who appeared in many silent comedy films.Obituary ''Variety'', March 10, 1971, page 55. One of the most influential film co ...
vehicle entitled ''
The Sin of Harold Diddlebock ''The Sin of Harold Diddlebock'' is a 1947 comedy film written and directed by Preston Sturges, starring the silent film comic icon Harold Lloyd, and featuring a supporting cast including female protagonist Frances Ramsden, Jimmy Conlin, Raymond ...
'' (1947), for which Sturges had coaxed the silent film icon out of retirement, went over budget and far behind schedule, and was poorly received when it was released. Hughes, who had promised not to interfere in the film's production, stepped in and pulled the movie from distribution in order to re-edit it, taking almost four years to do so. Released in 1950 by
RKO RKO Radio Pictures Inc., commonly known as RKO Pictures or simply RKO, was an American film production and distribution company, one of the "Big Five" film studios of Hollywood's Golden Age. The business was formed after the Keith-Albee-Orpheu ...
, which was by that time owned by Hughes, the retitled ''Mad Wednesday'' was no more successful than Sturges' original version. In the meantime, California Pictures had put another film into production, ''
Vendetta Vendetta may refer to: * Feud or vendetta, a long-running argument or fight Film * ''Vendetta'' (1919 film), a film featuring Harry Liedtke * ''Vendetta'' (1950 film), an American drama produced by Howard Hughes * ''Vendetta'' (1986 film), a ...
''. At Hughes' behest, Sturges had written the script as a vehicle for Hughes' protégé,
Faith Domergue Faith Marie Domergue (; June 16, 1924 or 1925 – April 4, 1999) was an American film and television actress. Discovered at age sixteen by media and aircraft mogul Howard Hughes, she was signed to a contract with Hughes' RKO Radio Pictur ...
.
Max Ophüls Maximillian Oppenheimer (; 6 May 1902 – 26 March 1957), known as Max Ophüls (; ), was a German-French film director who worked in Germany (1931–1933), France (1933–1940 and 1950–1957), and the United States (1947–1950). He made near ...
was hired to direct, but after only a few days of filming, Hughes demanded that Sturges fire Ophüls and take over the direction himself. Seven weeks later, Sturges himself was fired or quit (accounts differ). The promising partnership between the two iconoclasts was dissolved after just one completed picture. As Sturges later recalled, "When Mr. Hughes made suggestions with which I disagreed, as he had a perfect right to do, I rejected them. When I rejected the last one, he remembered he had an option to take control of the company and he took over. So I left." Coming on the heels of the failure of ''The Great Moment'', these further flops, disappointments and setbacks served to tarnish the once stellar reputation of the golden boy of Hollywood. Sturges was left professionally adrift. Accepting an offer from
Darryl Zanuck Darryl Francis Zanuck (September 5, 1902December 22, 1979) was an American film producer and studio executive; he earlier contributed stories for films starting in the silent era. He played a major part in the Hollywood studio system as one of ...
, he landed at Fox where he wrote, directed, and produced two films. The first, '' Unfaithfully Yours'' (1948), was not initially well received by either reviewers or the public, though its critical reputation has since improved. However, his second Fox film, ''The Beautiful Blonde from Bashful Bend'' (1949), was the first serious flop in star
Betty Grable Elizabeth Ruth Grable (December 18, 1916 – July 2, 1973) was an American actress, pin-up girl, dancer, model, and singer. Her 42 films during the 1930s and 1940s grossed more than $100 million; for 10 consecutive years (1942–1951) she reign ...
's career, and Sturges was again on his own. He built a theater at his Players restaurant, but the project did not pan out. Over the next several years, Sturges continued to write, but many of the projects were underfunded or stillborn, and those that emerged did not approach the same success as his earlier triumphs. His 1951 Broadway musical, '' Make a Wish'', underwent extensive rewriting by
Abe Burrows Abe Burrows (born Abram Solman Borowitz; December 18, 1910 – May 17, 1985) was an American humorist, author, and director for radio and the stage. He won a Tony Award and was selected for two Pulitzer Prizes, only one of which was awarded. Ear ...
and ran for only a few months. His next Broadway project, '' Carnival in Flanders'', a musical which Sturges wrote and directed in 1953, closed after six performances. Sturges was having no better luck in Hollywood, where his clout was gone.
Katharine Hepburn Katharine Houghton Hepburn (May 12, 1907 – June 29, 2003) was an American actress in film, stage, and television. Her career as a Hollywood leading lady spanned over 60 years. She was known for her headstrong independence, spirited perso ...
, who had starred in the 1952 Broadway production of the
George Bernard Shaw George Bernard Shaw (26 July 1856 – 2 November 1950), known at his insistence simply as Bernard Shaw, was an Irish playwright, critic, polemicist and political activist. His influence on Western theatre, culture and politics extended from ...
play, ''
The Millionairess ''The Millionairess'' is a 1960 British romantic comedy film directed by Anthony Asquith, and starring Sophia Loren and Peter Sellers. Set in London, it is a loose adaptation of George Bernard Shaw's 1936 play of the same name. Plot By the t ...
'' got Sturges to agree to adapt the script and direct. But she could not get a single Hollywood studio to back the project. A 1953 lien by the
Internal Revenue Service The Internal Revenue Service (IRS) is the revenue service for the United States federal government, which is responsible for collecting U.S. federal taxes and administering the Internal Revenue Code, the main body of the federal statutory ta ...
, with whom he had been having tax problems, cost Sturges the Players nightclub and other assets. Sturges put a brave public face on the situation, writing, "I had so very much for so very long, it is quite natural for the pendulum to swing the other way for a while, and I really cannot and will not complain." However, his drinking became heavy, and his marriage and many of his relationships continued to deteriorate. Sturges began spending more time in Europe, as he had as a young man. His last directorial effort took place there when he wrote and directed ''Les Carnets du Major Thompson'', an adaptation of a popular French novel. The film was released in France in 1955 and two years later in the U.S., under the title ''
The French, They Are a Funny Race ''The French, They Are a Funny Race'' (french: Les Carnets du Major Thompson, lit=The Notebooks of Major Thompson; released in the United Kingdom as ''The Diary of Major Thompson'') is a 1955 French comedy film written and directed by Preston Stu ...
''. It failed to register with critics or the audience. Sturges made four brief onscreen appearances during his career: in two of his own films – ''Christmas in July'' and ''Sullivan's Travels'' – in the Paramount all-star extravaganza ''
Star Spangled Rhythm ''Star Spangled Rhythm'' is a 1942 American all-star cast musical film made by Paramount Pictures during World War II as a morale booster. Many of the Hollywood studios produced such films during the war, generally musicals, frequently with flims ...
'', and, in the years of his decline, in the
Bob Hope Leslie Townes "Bob" Hope (May 29, 1903 – July 27, 2003) was a British-American comedian, vaudevillian, actor, singer and dancer. With a career that spanned nearly 80 years, Hope appeared in more than 70 short and feature films, with 5 ...
comedy '' Paris Holiday'', which was filmed in France and would be the last film he worked on. Two decades earlier, Sturges had been a writer on one of Hope's earliest film successes, '' Never Say Die''. In 1959, Sturges summed up his career:
Between flops, it is true, I have come up with an occasional hit, but compared to a good boxer's record, for instance, my percentage has been lamentable. I fought a draw in my first fight, stupified everyone by winning the championship in my second, got a couple of wins with picture rights, then was knocked out three times in a row. Dragging my weary carcass to Hollywood, I was immediately knocked out again, won a big fight some six months later, then marked time for six years as an ordinary ham-and-beaner, picking up what I could. Suddenly I saw a chance and offered to fight for the world championship for a dollar. To everyone's astonishment, I won that championship and defended it successfully for a number of years, winning nine times by knockout, fighting three draws, losing twice and getting one no-decision in Europe. I have just come over to America for a fight, but it was called off at the last moment, one of the promoters having gone nuts and having to have been locked up. Why I'm not walking on my heels after all this, I don't know. Maybe I ''am'' walking on my heels. It would be surprising if I weren't.


Style and influence

Sturges took the
screwball comedy Screwball comedy is a subgenre of the romantic comedy genre that became popular during the Great Depression, beginning in the early 1930s and thriving until the early 1940s, that satirizes the traditional love story. It has secondary characteristi ...
format of the 1930s to another level, writing dialogue that, heard today, is often surprisingly naturalistic, mature, and ahead of its time, despite the farcical situations. It is not uncommon for a Sturges character to deliver an exquisitely turned phrase and take an elaborate pratfall within the same scene. Such versatility and dexterity can be seen in ''
The Lady Eve ''The Lady Eve'' is a 1941 American screwball comedy film written and directed by Preston Sturges and starring Barbara Stanwyck and Henry Fonda.
'', where a tender love scene takes place between
Henry Fonda Henry Jaynes Fonda (May 16, 1905 – August 12, 1982) was an American actor. He had a career that spanned five decades on Broadway and in Hollywood. He cultivated an everyman screen image in several films considered to be classics. Born and rai ...
and
Barbara Stanwyck Barbara Stanwyck (; born Ruby Catherine Stevens; July 16, 1907 – January 20, 1990) was an American actress, model and dancer. A stage, film, and television star, during her 60-year professional career she was known for her strong, realistic sc ...
, which is enlivened by a horse as it repeatedly pokes its nose into Fonda's head.
John Lasseter John Alan Lasseter (; born January 12, 1957) is an American film director, producer, screenwriter, animator, voice actor, and the head of animation at Skydance Animation. He was previously the chief creative officer of Pixar Animation Studios, ...
cited Sturges as an influence on his work.


Personal life

Sturges married four times and had three sons: *Estelle deWolfe Mudge – married in December 1923, separated in 1927, divorced in 1928 * Eleanor Close Hutton (a daughter of
Marjorie Merriweather Post Marjorie Merriweather Post (March 15, 1887 – September 12, 1973) was an American businesswoman, socialite, and philanthropist. She was also the owner of General Foods Corporation. Post used much of her fortune to collect art, particularly Im ...
) – eloped on April 12, 1930, marriage annulled on April 12, 1932 *Louise Sargent Tevis – married on November 7, 1938, in
Reno, Nevada Reno ( ) is a city in the northwest section of the U.S. state of Nevada, along the Nevada-California border, about north from Lake Tahoe, known as "The Biggest Little City in the World". Known for its casino and tourism industry, Reno is the ...
, separated in April 1946, divorced in November 1947 **son Solomon Sturges IV (b. June 25, 1941) – actor *Anne Margaret "Sandy" Nagle (a lawyer and former actress) – married on April 15, 1951, marriage ended in 1959 with Sturges' death, mother of his two younger sons **Preston Sturges Jr. (b. February 22, 1953) – screenwriter ** Thomas Preston Sturges (b. June 22, 1956) – music executive


Death

Sturges died of a heart attack at the
Algonquin Hotel The Algonquin Hotel is a hotel at 59 West 44th Street in Midtown Manhattan, New York City, United States. The 181-room hotel, opened in 1902, was designed by architect Goldwin Starrett for the Puritan Realty Company. The hotel has hosted numer ...
while writing his autobiography (which, ironically, he had intended to title ''The Events Leading Up to My Death''), and was interred in the
Ferncliff Cemetery Ferncliff Cemetery and Mausoleum is located at 280 Secor Road in the hamlet of Hartsdale, town of Greenburgh, Westchester County, New York, United States, about north of Midtown Manhattan. It was founded in 1902, and is non-sectarian. Ferncliff ...
in
Hartsdale, New York Hartsdale is a hamlet located in the town of Greenburgh, Westchester County, New York, United States. The population was 5,293 at the 2010 census. It is a suburb of New York City. History Hartsdale, a CDP/hamlet/post-office in the town of Greenb ...
. His book, ''Preston Sturges by Preston Sturges: His Life in His Words'', was published in 1990. In 1975, he became the first writer to be given the
Screen Writers Guild The Screen Writers Guild was an organization of Hollywood screenplay authors, formed as a union in 1933. In 1954, it became two different organizations: Writers Guild of America, West and the Writers Guild of America, East. Founding Screenwriter ...
's Laurel Award posthumously. He has a star dedicated to him on the
Hollywood Walk of Fame The Hollywood Walk of Fame is a historic landmark which consists of more than 2,700 five-pointed terrazzo and brass stars embedded in the sidewalks along 15 blocks of Hollywood Boulevard and three blocks of Vine Street in Hollywood, Californ ...
, at 1601 Vine Street.


Filmography


Films


Other film work

*''The Big Pond'' (1930; dialogue) *''Fast and Loose (1930 film), Fast and Loose'' (1930; additional dialogue) *''The Invisible Man (1933 film), The Invisible Man'' (1933; contributing writer) *''
The Power and the Glory ''The Power and the Glory'' is a 1940 novel by British author Graham Greene. The title is an allusion to the doxology often recited at the end of the Lord's Prayer: "For thine is the kingdom, the power, and the glory, forever and ever, amen." ...
'' (1933; screenplay, dialogue director) *''Imitation of Life (1934 film), Imitation of Life'' (1934; contributing writer) *''We Live Again'' (1934; co-screen adaptation) *''Thirty Day Princess'' (1934; co-screenplay) *''The Good Fairy (1935 film), The Good Fairy'' (1935; screenplay) *''
Diamond Jim ''Diamond Jim'' is a 1935 biographical film based on the published biography ''Diamond Jim Brady'' by Parker Morell. It follows the life of legendary entrepreneur James Buchanan Brady, including his romance with entertainer Lillian Russell, and s ...
'' (1935; screenplay) *''Love Before Breakfast'' (1936; contributor to treatment) *''Next Time We Love'' (1936; contributor to screenplay construction) *'' Easy Living'' (1937; screenplay) *''Hotel Haywire'' (1937; original story, screenplay) *''If I Were King'' (1938; screenplay) *''Port of Seven Seas'' (1938; screenplay) *''College Swing'' (1938; contributing writer) *'' Never Say Die'' (1939; co-screenplay) *''Remember the Night'' (1940; screenplay) *''I Married a Witch'' (1942; producer) *''
Vendetta Vendetta may refer to: * Feud or vendetta, a long-running argument or fight Film * ''Vendetta'' (1919 film), a film featuring Harry Liedtke * ''Vendetta'' (1950 film), an American drama produced by Howard Hughes * ''Vendetta'' (1986 film), a ...
'' (1950; uncredited director) *''The Birds and the Bees (film), The Birds and the Bees'' (1956, co-screenplay) *Source:"Preston Sturges"
AFI Catalog, American Film Institute Catalog


Actor

*''
Christmas in July Christmas in July, Christmas in Summer or Christmas in Winter is a second Christmas celebration held around the summer season, mainly during July. It is centered around Christmas-themed activities and entertainment, including small gatherings, se ...
'' (1940) - Man at Shoeshine Stand (uncredited) *''
Sullivan's Travels ''Sullivan's Travels'' is a 1941 American comedy film written and directed by Preston Sturges. A satire on the film industry, it follows a famous Hollywood comedy director (Joel McCrea) who, longing to make a socially relevant drama, sets out to ...
'' (1941) - Studio Director (uncredited) *''
Star Spangled Rhythm ''Star Spangled Rhythm'' is a 1942 American all-star cast musical film made by Paramount Pictures during World War II as a morale booster. Many of the Hollywood studios produced such films during the war, generally musicals, frequently with flims ...
'' (1942) - Himself *'' Paris Holiday'' (1958) - Serge Vitry (final film role)


Adaptations

*Three of Sturges' films, ''Christmas in July'', ''The Great McGinty'' and ''Remember the Night'', were restaged for NBC's ''Lux Video Theater''. *The 1956 George Gobel movie ''The Birds and the Bees (film), The Birds and the Bees'' was a remake of ''
The Lady Eve ''The Lady Eve'' is a 1941 American screwball comedy film written and directed by Preston Sturges and starring Barbara Stanwyck and Henry Fonda.
''. Paul Jones produced both movies. *The 1958 Jerry Lewis vehicle ''Rock-A-Bye Baby (film), Rock-A-Bye Baby'' was loosely based on Sturges' ''The Miracle of Morgan's Creek''. *The 1984 Dudley Moore feature ''Unfaithfully Yours (1984 film), Unfaithfully Yours'' was a remake of Unfaithfully Yours (1948 film), Sturges' 1948 original.


Published screenplays

*''Five Screenplays'' () collects ''
The Great McGinty ''The Great McGinty'' is a 1940 political satire comedy film written and directed by Preston Sturges, starring Brian Donlevy and Akim Tamiroff and featuring William Demarest and (in her final screen appearance) Muriel Angelus. It was Sturges's fir ...
'', ''
Christmas in July Christmas in July, Christmas in Summer or Christmas in Winter is a second Christmas celebration held around the summer season, mainly during July. It is centered around Christmas-themed activities and entertainment, including small gatherings, se ...
'', ''
The Lady Eve ''The Lady Eve'' is a 1941 American screwball comedy film written and directed by Preston Sturges and starring Barbara Stanwyck and Henry Fonda.
'', ''
Sullivan's Travels ''Sullivan's Travels'' is a 1941 American comedy film written and directed by Preston Sturges. A satire on the film industry, it follows a famous Hollywood comedy director (Joel McCrea) who, longing to make a socially relevant drama, sets out to ...
'', and ''
Hail the Conquering Hero ''Hail the Conquering Hero'' (1944) is a satirical comedy-drama film written and directed by Preston Sturges, starring Eddie Bracken, Ella Raines and William Demarest, and featuring Raymond Walburn, Franklin Pangborn, Elizabeth Patterson, Bill ...
'' *''Four More Screenplays'' () collects ''
The Miracle of Morgan's Creek ''The Miracle of Morgan's Creek'' is a 1944 American screwball comedy film written and directed by Preston Sturges, starring Eddie Bracken and Betty Hutton, and featuring Diana Lynn, William Demarest and Porter Hall. Brian Donlevy and Akim Tamir ...
'', ''
The Palm Beach Story ''The Palm Beach Story'' is a 1942 screwball comedy film written and directed by Preston Sturges, and starring Claudette Colbert, Joel McCrea, Mary Astor and Rudy Vallée. Victor Young contributed the musical score, including a fast-paced variati ...
'', '' Unfaithfully Yours'', and '' The Great Moment'' * ''Three More Screenplays'' () collects ''
The Power and the Glory ''The Power and the Glory'' is a 1940 novel by British author Graham Greene. The title is an allusion to the doxology often recited at the end of the Lord's Prayer: "For thine is the kingdom, the power, and the glory, forever and ever, amen." ...
'', ''Remember the Night'', and '' Easy Living''


See also

*List of actors who frequently worked with Preston Sturges


References

Informational notes Citations Bibliography *Dickos, Andrew (2013) ''Intrepid Laughter: Preston Sturges And The Movies''. Lexington, Kentucky: University Press of Kentucky. * Further reading * * *Jacobs, Dianne (1992) ''Christmas in July: The Life and Art of Preston Sturges''. Berkeley, California: University of California Press. *Smedley, Nick and Sturges, Tom (2019) ''Preston Sturges: The Last Years of Hollywood's First Writer-Director''. Intellect, Ltd. *Spoto, Donald (1990) ''Madcap: The Life of Preston Sturges''. New York: Little, Brown. *Ursini, James (1973) ''The Fabulous Life & Times of Preston Sturges: An American Dreamer''. Curtis Books.


External links

*
Timeline
* * * *

at Film Reference

at Senses of Cinema: Great Directors Critical Database

at American Masters
Preston Sturges bibliography
at UC Berkeley Media Resources Center *

at Reel Classics * Films:
James Harvey's essay on ''The Lady Eve''

Todd McCarthy's essay on ''Sullivan's Travels''

Jonathan Lethem's essay on ''Unfaithfully Yours''
{{DEFAULTSORT:Sturges, Preston 1898 births 1959 deaths 20th-century American dramatists and playwrights 20th-century American male writers 20th-century American screenwriters American autobiographers American film directors American male non-fiction writers American male screenwriters American people of English descent American people of Irish descent Best Original Screenplay Academy Award winners Burials at Ferncliff Cemetery Film producers from Illinois Screenwriters from Illinois United States Army Air Service pilots of World War I Writers from Chicago