Skip to main content

PRESTON STURGES: THE RISE AND FALL OF AN AMERICAN DREAMER

USA, 1990 (MIFF 1990, Documentaries)

Director: Kenneth Bowser

To many film lovers, it is both a source of mystery and disgust that Preston Sturges is not currently recognised by the general public as 'the' great Hollywood comedy director.

During a four-year period at Paramount in the 1940s, Preston Sturges wrote and directed a handful of landmark films. His best-known comedies of the period, such as Sullivan's Travels, The Great McGinty, The Palm Beach Story and The Miracle of Morgan's Creek are blistering satires on American politics, society and moral conventions, as well as, arguably, the most witty and sophisticated comedies ever made.

Apart from his remarkable ability to circumvent the strict moral codes of the time - big-city politics, fertility, marital infidelity and capitalism were chief among his targets - Sturges was to have a significant effect on how films would be made in Hollywood, being the first to direct his own screenplays.

This lively and exhaustively researched documentary, by self confessed Sturges nut Ken Bowser, written by renowned author Todd McCarthy, provides an illuminating and intriguing journey through the remarkable, though short-lived, career of Sturges - writer, director, inventor, husband, father, restauranteur. In many respects, Sturges' life was as packed with irony as the stories that evolve in his films.

Sprinkled with well-chosen clips from various films and interviews, as well as some rare and revealing footage and recordings of Sturges himself, the documentary creates a vivid portrait of this larger-than-life figure, his meteoric rise to fame and later obscurity.
(PKa/TB)

As part of this year's Retrospective, the festival is screening one of Sturges' rarest films, Remember The Night, directed by Michael Leisen from Sturges' script in 1940.

See also...

FRANK CAPRA'S AMERICAN DREAM

Director of the acclaimed Preston Sturges: The Rise and Fall of an American Dreamer (MIFF 1990), Kenneth Bowser's Frank Capra documentary beats a path directly to the core of the life of one of ... More »

BERKELEY IN THE SIXTIES

This film is one of the first comprehensive looks at the student movement of the 1960s as seen from the Berkeley campus. A small student movement becomes a cause celebré when the House Un-American ... More »

LISTEN UP

Listen Up (subtitled The Lives of Quincy Jones), is an informative and invigorating portrait of an unusual American success story, the rise and rise of black musical genius Quincy Jones. Filmmakers ... More »

HOLLYWOOD MAVERICKS

Maverick: 1. An unbranded animal: esp: a motherless calf. 2. An independent individual who refuses to conform with his group. - Webster's Dictionary ... Upon receiving the American Film Institute's ... More »

FOREVER ACTIVISTS! - STORIES FROM THE VETERANS OF THE ABRAHAM LINCOLN BRIGADE

In 1936, 3200 American men and women joined Spain in its fight for democracy against Franco's fascist uprising. For many of them the Spanish Civil War was the first - but certainly not the last ... More »

RESIDENT ALIEN

Marginal victim, superstar, homosexual icon, dandy; which ever way you wish to describe him, Quentin Crisp remains one of the greatest and most fascinating British inventions of the last millenium ... More »

Select a festival
Search The Film Archive
Browse By Director