February 11, 2000 |
Mad Wednesday - also known as The Sin of Harold Diddlebock (1946) - is less a film than an interstellar event. Directed by the supremely talented Preston Sturges and starring silent comedy giant Harold Lloyd, this slapstick film brought Lloyd out of retirement and imagined his character in The Freshman (1925) 20 years later. Caught in a dead-end job, the eternally boyish Lloyd goes on a bender ("You bring out the artist in me," enthuses his bartender) and gets out of his rut. It is by no means a masterpiece; in fact, it was almost universally panned upon release.
August 28, 1987 |
Unfaithfully Yours (1948) is a high-fidelity comedy about an uncommon orchestra conductor (Rex Harrison) who suspects that his rather common wife (Linda Darnell) is conducting a low-fidelity affair with his male secretary. While he's in concert performing three very different pieces of music - regretful Rossini, melodramatic Tchaikovsky, vengeful Wagner - he imagines three possible scenarios: of regret, melodrama and revenge. This last great film from writer/director Preston Sturges is the 1940s' most sophisticated comedy.
January 24, 1993 |
Between 1940 and 1944, Preston Sturges let spring seven of the greatest comedies ever to issue from Hollywood: The Great McGinty, Christmas in July, The Lady Eve, Sullivan's Travels, The Palm Beach Story, The Miracle of Morgan's Creek and Hail the Conquering Hero. This burst of creativity - from a man who spent his boyhood traveling Europe with his glamorous mother and her glamorous friend, Isadora Duncan - gets an insightful examination from Diane Jacobs in Christmas in July - The Life and Art of Preston Sturges (University of California Press, $30)
December 20, 1990 |
Preston Sturges is surely the only Hollywood writer/director to collect an Oscar in the same year he patented a vibrationless diesel engine. It is fitting that the man whose movies were like perpetual-motion machines intimately knew the mechanics of internal combustion. A successful playwright (Strictly Dishonorable), screenwriter (The Power and the Glory, Remember the Night) and writer/director (The Lady Eve, The Miracle at Morgan's Creek), Sturges has always been a film-society and video- emporium favorite, second only to Alfred Hitchcock in popularity.
February 10, 1995 |
Joel McCrea stars as John L. Sullivan, the Steven Spielberg of his day, in Sullivan's Travels, one of the greatest of Preston Sturges' social comedies and one of the greatest films to emerge from Hollywood in the 1940s - or in any decade, for that matter. Playing a hugely successful moviemaker whose frothy box office hits had titles like So Long, Sarong, McCrea's Sullivan gets the bug to do something serious, something that addresses the suffering of humankind. But his studio bosses give him a big harrumph, telling him he has no personal knowledge of human hardship whatsoever.
August 1, 1986 |
Joel McCrea tries to keep his shirt on and get his estranged wife Claudette Colbert's dress off for most of The Palm Beach Story (1942), a dizzy Preston Sturges social satire in which the rich get richer and the poor get lucky. McCrea is an unsuccessful inventor abandoned by Colbert because she wants all the things that money can buy. Rich playboy Rudy Vallee woos Colbert with his bankbook, while his sister Mary Astor woos McCrea with hers and McCrea in turn woos back Colbert with woo-woo.
July 29, 1991 |
Summer is the season Hollywood flies its airhead entertainments - mindless escapisms guaranteed to lighten your pocket without getting anywhere near your brain. So it's a little surprising to find a few films inviting their audiences to seriously self-assess. A couple of cinematic reality checks hit the fan this week and next: William Hurt turns up as "The Doctor" (scheduled to open here Friday), who is abruptly reduced to an impatient patient, stricken with throat cancer.
December 3, 1993 |
True, The Revolt of Job sounds like an episode from the Bible. But in fact it is an improbably lyrical account, based on a real-life story, of a childless Jewish couple in Hungary, circa 1943, who adopt a Christian child and raise him for the year before they are dragged off to the concentration camps. The film's director, Imre Gyongossy, was that obstreperous, wild child whose life was transformed by this loving couple. And his film is a moving tribute to the adoptive parents who gave him warmth, affection and spiritual sustenance.
June 23, 2013 |
Sunday One by one. In the drawings in her Endangered Species Project , artist Sarah Kaizar is meticulously detailing the 1,115 species identified as being at risk, from toads to birds to butterflies to clams. An exhibit of her work is on display, paired with nature paintings by Yeoun Lee , at 3rd Street Gallery on 2nd Street , 58 N. Second St., to next Sunday. Admission is free. Call 215-625-0093. His and hers. Jason Robert Brown's two-person musical, The Last Five Years , looks at a marriage from two perspectives.
October 29, 1992 |
"Those aren't lies. Those are campaign promises. They expect 'em. " - William Demarest In "Hail the Conquering Hero" Some things never change. Take politics, for example. Right now, we're down to the nitty-gritty of a big election year. So much has been said, so much has been written, so much has been refuted. But Hollywood has been onto the mud-slinging and grandstanding for decades. This year's Bob Roberts is a superb example of how movies look at political tricks and triumphs, but the notion that winning elections and running government can be an unscrupulous business is found in any number of films out on video.