Movie Review – Unfaithfully Yours

Unfaithfully Yours (1948)
Written & Directed by Preston Sturges

At one point in his career, Preston Sturges was the third highest-paid man in America. He knew his value by 1944 at Paramount and began making more demands, throwing his weight around. After some poor business investments in Los Angeles, he started borrowing more money from family and friends. His good friend Howard Hughes even bankrolled Sturges’ venture as an independent filmmaker with California Pictures, a pay cut but also a higher level of control that made others in Hollywood envious. With all this success and prominence came a decline in quality and consistency. Sturges worked best when he has a force to butt heads with, but given complete artistic freedom, he began producing subpar work. After a series of flops, Sturges was no longer a creator people sought out, and he would have one more moderate hit before everything came crashing down.

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Movie Review – The Miracle at Morgan’s Creek

The Miracle of Morgan’s Creek (1944)
Written & Directed by Preston Sturges

In 1922, Hollywood was an incredibly sleazy town. How little things change. The studios were dealing with backlash from some risque films and the even more troubling private lives of their stars leaking into the tabloids. To deal with this problem, they enlisted the U.S. Postmaster General William Hays to write up a code of conduct that would get politicians and angry citizens off their backs. Thus, the Hays Code, the first piece of American film censorship, was born. The Code dictated that profanity, sex, or drugs be prohibited from films. Notice no significant rule on violence.

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Movie Review – Hail the Conquering Hero

Hail the Conquering Hero (1944)
Written & Directed by Preston Sturges

Preston Sturges did something delightfully subversive in this film, choosing to make another movie that appears on the surface level to be about patriotism and supporting “our boys” in the war effort. What he did was make a satire upending military hero worship and some of the core ideologies of bourgeoise America. During my viewing, I sat there stunned at how much he was getting away with, convinced that the censors at the time were dumber than I thought. This is a criminally underrated, wholly American movie that most definitely could not be made with today’s sterile corporate Hollywood environment.

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Movie Review – The Palm Beach Story

The Palm Beach Story (1942)
Written by Preston Sturges & Ernest Laemmle
Directed by Preston Sturges

This is the ur-text of screwball comedies, every core element boiled down to its purest essence. There are pratfalls galore, windows getting smashed, and people confusing each other for others. It exists as both an ode to the comedies of mixed-up identities from Shakespeare and commentary on the late stages of the Great Depression. This film will inspire future pictures like Some Like It Hot and Intolerable Cruelty, but it doesn’t put on airs of being profound or world-changing. This is a pure character-centered comedy that understands how important it is to have a diverse variety of roles.

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Movie Reviews – Sullivan’s Travels

Sullivan’s Travels (1941)
Written & Directed by Preston Sturges

Sullivan’s Travels is a masterpiece in my book. It’s a metacommentary on movies that never loses sight that it’s also a slapstick comedy. The film is a reflection of the struggles of the working class, particularly during the Great Depression, but it’s a genuinely endearing love story. Preston Sturges managed to create a film that captures so much about his point in time yet speaks universally to the struggles & victories of our lives today. Yet Sturges made a movie preaching about the annoyance of preaching in film. It’s a beautiful paradox the produced a picture that is one of the best American films ever made.

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Movie Review – The Lady Eve

The Lady Eve (1941)
Written & Directed by Preston Sturges

Preston Sturges may not be a name you know, but the influence of his work is still felt in movies to this day. He began his career as a screenwriter and successfully transitioned into directing, he’s considered the first person to do this. His characters show a sharp wit yet also execute a pratfall in the same scene, Sturges found humor in seeing bright people “hoisted by their own petard.” While the screwball comedy came about in the 1930s, it was Sturges who formed and refined the key tropes that made it up. The Coen Brothers are one obvious continuation of Sturges’s work, but even Pixar has cited the writer-director as someone they look to when developing their films.

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