The career of filmmaker Preston Sturges—at least in its earlier stages—reads like a fantasy wish fulfillment for frustrated screenwriters everywhere. Exasperated by the inept alterations made to his work by egotistical studio heads, producers, and directors, Sturges attempted a legendary gambit, offering a script to Paramount Studios for just $1—with the provision that he be allowed to direct. The resulting film, 1940's The Great McGinty, was a commercial and critical hit, not only earning him an Oscar for Best Original Screenplay, but the clout to develop his own projects as well. A streak of subsequent successes showcased a cinematic authorship unique to Sturges, marked by unabashedly farcical plots that connected with audiences through magnetic characters and engaging banter. While such traits already defined the screwball-comedy genre, few filmmakers refined the formula with his level of aptitude or consistency. Unfortunately, a series of commercial disappointments and personal misfortunes sent him into exile from the limelight by the mid-1940s. In his brief time of ascendancy, however, he thrived on infusing the screen with madcap mischief, as evidenced by Take-Up Productions' latest collaboration with the Heights Theater, Preston Sturges: Screwball Comet. The six-film series opens with a double-bill of The Great McGinty and Christmas in July (September 26), followed by The Lady Eve (October 3), Sullivan's Travels (October 10), The Palm Beach Story (October 17), and Hail the Conquering Hero (October 24).
Mondays, 7:30 p.m. Starts: Sept. 26. Continues through Oct. 24, 2011