Thursday, August 6, 2009


Writer-director Preston Sturges began writing his memoirs in February 1959 and finished the last chapter on August 6, in his room at the Algonquin Hotel. He died later the same afternoon. He was 60.

He came from the American Midwest, but spent most of his childhood traipsing around Europe with his mother, who ran a string of upmarket perfumeries, and his mother's best friend Isadora Duncan. Preston's mother gave the famous dancer the scarf that got tangled in the spokes of her Bugatti and ended her life. One imagines a brittle upbringing full of madcap adventures and ironic outcomes. Sturges the wise-eyed youth observing the sophisticated open marriages and negotiated romances. This brilliant stuff became the fabric of his plays and screenplays and of the swift sequence of brilliant comedies he directed between 1940 and 1944. Most notably the films The Lady Eve, Sullivan's Travels and The Palm Beach Story, which he made in quick succession in 1941-42. Sturges appears four times in A Book of Ages.

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