Stuart KlawansDec 25, 2022
Crooked, But Never Common
The Films of Preston Sturges
Columbia University Press 2023
In a burst of creativity unmatched in Hollywood history, Preston Sturges directed a string of all-time classic comedies from 1939 through 1948--The Great McGinty, The Lady Eve, Sullivan's Travels, The Palm Beach Story, and The Miracle of Morgan's Creek among them--all from screenplays he alone had written.
Stuart Klawans' Crooked, But Never Common: The Films of Preston Sturges (Columbia UP, 2023) pays close attention to Sturges' celebrated dialogue, but also to his films surprisingly intricate structures, marvelous use of a standard roster of character actors, and effective composition of shots. Klawans goes deeper than this, though, providing compelling readings of the underlying personal philosophy depicted in these films, which for all their seen-it-all cynicism nonetheless express firmly-held values, among them a fear for conformity and crowd-mentality, a dread of stasis, and a respect for intelligence, whether of a billionaire or of a Pullman porter. This is a book that will return you to these great films with new eyes.
Andy Boyd is a playwright based in Brooklyn, New York. He is a graduate of the playwriting MFA at Columbia University, Harvard University, and the Arizona School for the Arts.