Preston Sturges biography

Preston Sturges

Playwright, Film director

1898 – 1959

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Who was Preston Sturges?

Preston Sturges, originally Edmund Preston Biden, was an American playwright, screenwriter and film director born in Chicago, Illinois. In 1941 he won the Academy Award for Best Original Screenplay for the film The Great McGinty, his first of three nominations in the category.

Sturges took the screwball comedy 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. A tender love scene between Henry Fonda and Barbara Stanwyck in The Lady Eve was enlivened by a horse, which repeatedly poked its nose into Fonda's head.

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 and Ethan Coen, Robert Zemeckis, and Woody Allen, along with prolific The Simpsons writer John Swartzwelder: "Many of [Sturges'] 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 and The Great McGinty or the way an apparently classical comedy such as Unfaithfully Yours shifts into the realm of multiple and hypothetical narratives.

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Born
Aug 29, 1898
Chicago
Also known as
  • Edmund Preston Biden
Parents
Spouses
Children
Nationality
  • United States of America
Profession
Died
Aug 6, 1959
New York City
Resting place
Ferncliff Cemetery

Submitted
on July 23, 2013

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