CALIFORNIA | LOCAL
July 27, 2008 |
It all started 10 years ago when middle school student Helen Camarillo walked up to music executive Tom Sturges at a Christmas party for youths and adults interested in mentoring. She told him that she planned to be president of the United States one day. As an ice breaker, it worked. Sturges, a son of legendary screenwriter and director Preston Sturges, asked Helen where she went to school. Foshay Learning Center, she told him, naming a school in a crime-ridden neighborhood in South Los Angeles.
February 10, 1991 |
Preston Sturges was one of the greatest filmmakers in America. Unfortunately, he wanted to be a restaurateur. You can see this in his movies, which contain some of the greatest eating scenes ever filmed. Veronica Lake meets Joel McCrea in an "owl wagon" in "Sullivan's Travels," spends her last dime on his breakfast and foils his attempt at poverty. In the "Palm Beach Story," the Ale and Quail Club eat their way down the coast, wreck the dining car and generally have a hell of a time.
July 13, 1990 |
Preston Sturges' best movies, during the 1940s before studio control put him at odds with himself, are marked by a nervy energy, almost exultancy. Just take a look at an inspired Barbara Stanwyck in "The Lady Eve," which starts the Muckenthaler Cultural Center's summer film series tonight.
July 25, 2010 |
Most filmmakers who had a hand in shaping the language of the art form approached cinema with the mind-set of pioneers, eager to test and prove the medium's expressive potential. Not so Sacha Guitry. The French actor, writer and director who secured his place in the cinematic pantheon with a series of dazzling comedies made in the 1930s turned to film begrudgingly, spoke of it with condescension and maintained a lifelong allegiance to his first and true love, the theater. Guitry was born and raised in Russia, the son of a stage star who was for a time under contract with a French theater company in St. Petersburg.
May 12, 2001
I can't remember the last time I read an article like Patrick Goldstein's column on sex farce in film ("Demise of Sex Farce: The Mystery Is Gone," May 8). But I do remember the first. It was in the '70s, but the article itself was from the '20s, an old, musty periodical that said the "Anything Goes" lifestyle of Jazz Age youth had killed romance and sex because "the mystery is gone." The mystery must have come back, because now we're hearing it's gone again. Every good sex film, from Preston Sturges to the Farrelly brothers, has worked because they understood that the most painful and relatable sexual tension comes not just from wanting sex, but from wanting it with a particular person.
December 23, 2009
Yes, Virginia, there are many Christmas movies out in the cinematic universe other than the old faithfuls "It's a Wonderful Life," "Miracle on 34th Street," "A Christmas Story," "A Christmas Carol" and "Home Alone." "Remember the Night," one of the best Christmas movies you've probably never heard of, has finally arrived on DVD (available at www.tcm.com) and airs at 5 p.m. Thursday on Turner Classic Movies. And like so many holiday films, including "Miracle on 34th Street," which was released in May 1947, the romantic comedy-drama "Remember the Night" came out in January 1940, a full 11 months before the holidays.
July 18, 1992 |
Preston Sturges was a symphony of contradictions. A lowbrow aristocrat, he grew up force-fed on high culture and spent the rest of his life fleeing from it. A man who hated to work, he was responsible for vintage Hollywood's most impressive creative spurt, both writing and directing eight pictures between 1940 and 1944. One of the highest paid professionals in America, he was continually on the verge of bankruptcy.
August 16, 1998 |
Besides the retrospective at LACMA and a birthday tribute on cable's American Movie Classics, the majority of films by Preston Sturges are available on video. STURGES AS DIRECTOR Sturges made his directorial debut in 1940 with the political satire "The Great McGinty" (Universal, $15), for which he won an Oscar for his original screenplay.
October 4, 2009 |
Farber on Film The Complete Film Writings of Manny Farber Edited by Robert Polito Library of America: 824 pp., $40 At this year's Academy Awards, the most incongruous moment came during the "In Memoriam" roll call. Among the distinguished deceased was "Manny Farber, Film Critic." Outside of Martin Scorsese and a few other relative old-timers, I wonder how many members of the academy recognized the name, let alone remembered Farber's 1957 assessment of the complicity between the typical good-housekeeping movie reviewer and Hollywood's distribution of those 13 1/2 -inch statuettes: "His choice of best salami is a picture backed by studio build-up, agreement amongst his colleagues . . . and a list of ingredients that anyone's unsophisticated aunt in Oakland can spot as comprising a distinguished film."
May 8, 2001 |
No one wrote about sex with more breathless comic verve than Preston Sturges, the ringmaster of 1940s screwball comedy. In "The Palm Beach Story," Mary Astor, who plays a ditsy socialite, throws herself at Joel McCrea, the failed inventor of a midair airplane landing strip. (Screwball comedies are full of ditsy socialites and madcap inventors, two characters you don't get to see much of in, say, a Rob Schneider movie).