Sturges, Preston

Sturges, Preston

(stûr`jĭs), 1898–1959, American film director, screenwriter, and producer, b. Chicago as Edmond Preston Biden. Educated in the United States and Europe, he turned to playwriting during the 1920s, penning works that included the hit Broadway comedy Strictly Dishonorable (1929, film 1931). Sturges moved (1932) to Hollywood and began to turn out screenplays, both for dramas and sparkling comedies. He debuted as a director with the screwball comedy The Great McGinty (1940), which he also wrote, and for which he won the best original screenplay Oscar. Sturges satirized many sacred cows in the witty, unsentimental, and stylish movies he wrote and directed during the 1940s. Among them are Sullivan's Travels (1941), widely considered his masterpiece; The Lady Eve (1941); I Married a Witch (1942); The Palm Beach Story (1942); Hail the Conquering Hero (1944); and The Miracle of Morgan's Creek (1944). After the successful Unfaithfully Yours (1948), his career faltered, and his subsequent films were few and undistinguished. After falling into relative obscurity, his romantic comedies were rediscovered in the 1970s, and he is now hailed as one of Hollywood's finest and most influential comic talents.


See his memoirs, ed. by his wife, Sandy Sturges (1990); biographies by J. Curtis (1982), D. Spoto (1990), and D. Jacobs (1992).

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Sturges, Preston (b. Edmund Preston Biden)

(1898–1959) film director, screenwriter, playwright; born in Chicago. Educated in America and Europe, he enlisted in the Air Corps in World War I and later worked in the cosmetics industry, inventing a "kiss-proof" lipstick. He turned to writing plays, and his biggest Broadway hit was Strictly Dishonorable (1929). In 1933 he was in Hollywood, working as a screenwriter, and in 1940 he persuaded Paramount to let him direct his own screenplay, The Great McGinty, which won him the screenwriter's Oscar. Then came a brief run of directorial successes with inventive, freewheeling comedies that combined wit, slapstick, and social concerns, such as Sullivan's Travels (1941) and Hail the Conquering Hero (1944). After 1944 his career went into a precipitous decline, and he spent his last ten years in Paris.
The Cambridge Dictionary of American Biography, by John S. Bowman. Copyright © Cambridge University Press 1995. Reproduced with permission.