Monday, January 26, 2009

Me and Preston

I saw five films in my week in New York. I'm surprised it wasn't more but I was quite busy. As I mentioned in a post on 12.17.8, I was looking forward to the Preston Sturges retrospective at the Film Forum and I managed to watch five of them. So, it was nothing but Preston for me in New York.

Watching a group of films by a writer/director in the span of a couple of days gives you a very vivid look into the work of a person. Sturges had a stock company of character actors (like the great William Demarest--who shows up in all five films) for parts large and small. The actors always play their part beautifully, no matter if they are only in a single scene. It's comforting to see these same faces and hear the same voices over and over.

The films I saw were The Great McGinty, Sullivan's Travels, The Miracle of Morgan's Creek, Hail the Conquering Hero and The Lady Eve. All of them from 1940 to 1944, all of them film prints and all of them comic gold. The films are so good that they have aged very well. These films are still original, witty, smart as a tack, romantic and as funny as any film could be. No one, and I mean no one, now, then or ever has made a string of comedies as high quality as Sturges did in his hey day between the late 1930s to 1944. It was an amazing run that I doubt can be duplicated.

Getting to see The Lady Eve (1941) in a theatre full of laughing, appreciative people was a dream come true for me. The Lady Eve is sheer and utter screwball perfection. I wouldn't change a single thing in it--not the actors, not the script, not the editing, not the pacing. Nothing. The film works so incredibly well as a comedy and romance I almost felt as I was watching it (even though I've seen it a half a dozen times before) that The Lady Eve can't be real and I must be dreaming. How can a film be as perfect as The Lady Eve?

I've always had a thing for Sturges but getting to see five of them in a couple of days has endeared me to his style and class even more. He's now firmly in the top three or four of my all time favorites and challenging for the top spot. Heck, by some remote chance I ever have a son, I might name him Preston, such is my admiration and love for his films.


Anonymous said...

wow - sounds like an amazing experience. wish I'd talked to you before I went to NYC last October. I might go again this fall. I'd love to find a film retrospective of some of the classics. The Lady Eve is always one of my favorites. Cheers - Janet in Seattle

Replicant said...

Janet--The Film Forum always seems to have old films playing and another good theatre for old films is the Walter Reade Theatre.