Subject: I have found a DVD that I think you would enjoy
|Preston Sturges - The Filmmaker Collection |
Sullivan's Travels/The Lady Eve/The Palm Beach Story/Hail the Conquering Hero/The Great McGinty/Christmas in July/The Great Moment
Actors: Preston Sturges, June Preston
Genres: Action & Adventure, Comedy, Drama, Mystery & Suspense, Military & War
Studio: Uni Dist Corp. (mca) Release Date: 11/21/2006
Similarly Requested DVDs
Member Movie Reviews
Nathan J. (N8) from LOS ANGELES, CA
Reviewed on 1/17/2010...
Great collection but takes too many CREDITS! It sells on Amazon for $45, so this should be a 3 or 4 credit item!
0 of 3 member(s) found this review helpful.
EXCELLENT REMASTERING OF STURGES CLASSICS
Lowell S. Harris | Tampa, FL USA | 11/27/2006
(5 out of 5 stars)
"With this collection and the addition of "The Miracle Of Morgan's Creek, which was released on DVD by Paramount last year, we have as complete a collection as we can expect from Universal. The mastering of "The Palm Beach Story" here rectifies a very disappointing job from Universal last year, and the new-to-DVD issues of "The Great McGinty," "The Great Moment," "Christmas In July," and the film Sturges thought was his true masterpiece, "Hail The Conquering Hero," make this release as good as it gets. "Unfaithfully Yours," a Fox picture, has been released on Criterion, and "Sullivan's Travels" and "The Lady Eve" are also Criterion issues. I compared this new remastering of "Sullivan" with the Criterion, and despite a slightly to moderately better transfer--especially the soundtrack--from Criterion, Universal has held its own, quite an undertaking by itself against what has always been superior work by Criterion.
So to complete your collection, be sure to purchase "Miracle," because it's the finest transfer of any of Sturges's films. I, too, like another reviewer, would have appreciated a clean copy of "The Sin Of Harold Diddlebock," also known as "Mad Wednesday," as it has languished in the public domain for a long time.
Universal still doesn't believe in extras and that's a shame. We could have used interviews, documentaries, scripts, and perhaps the many feet that were left on the cutting room floor for "The Great Moment." I recommend the three Criterion Sturges films because of the extraordinary special features that are a hallmark of Criterion. But, again, let's give appropriate credit to Universal for doing its best for us fans and Sturges's masterworks. He pioneered the way for other writer-directors like Billy Wilder, and the appreciation of these films, with its witty satirical situations and urbane dialog, deserves to be passed along to the next film generation. Sturges also accomplished something that we don't see very often today: With Sturges, there's no such thing as a "minor" character; they all possess their own distinct personalities and help to create a complete story with each scene and sequence, supporting or balancing the other characters in the film."
A bargain for Sturges fans though there COULD be some decent
Wayne Klein | My Little Blue Window, USA | 12/10/2006
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Preston Sturges has always had a small following among film fans. That's too bad because he was probably one of the most brilliant writers and directors of his generation. His screwball comedies are brilliant examples of Hollywood filmmaking at their best. The first film I saw by Sturges at UCLA was "Sullivan's Travels" and from that point on nobody could compare to this maverick. This boxed set from Universal collects the rest of Sturges most important work ("Unfaithfully Yours" and "The Miracle of Morgan's Creek" are also available on DVD). Sturges reign at the top was brief but prolific; he produced most of his best films as a writer/director between 1940 and 1948 when he was at Paramount.
Overall the films in the "Preston Sturges Collection" look quite good although "The Great McGinty" looks a bit gritty at times but still looks quite good. Blacks are pretty solid and the condition of the prints look pretty good with Universal clearly putting digital clean up into some of these films. Keep in mind also that the source material varies in age with the oldest film here being 66 years old. "Sullivan's Travels" compares favorably to the Criterion edition although I'd suggest fans keep that edition since "ST" has no notable extras as part of the package. Audio sounds crisp and clear which is important as Sturges' verbal wit is almost as important as the slapstick comedic set pieces that decorate his films like icing on a cake.
Although this isn't a special feature it is a trend in the right direction for Universal. Many of their "tribute" collections have had as many as five films crammed onto one dual layered dual sided disc. "PSC" keeps it to one film per disc which is a big plus preventing problems during the pressing process that plagued some of their previous releases for some fans.
Sadly all we get are five trailers for the films included. Universal should have ported over some of the Criterion material or, at the very least, put together an hour documentary on Sturges career. It would have been pretty simple to do so in collaboration with his estate which has a website up and running full of biographical and trivia information about the great director. Although I'm not a fan of "Mad Wednesday" Sturges last major film as a director/writer made with Harold Lloyd since it is in the public domain it might have behooved Universal to find a decent print or source element, clean it up and include it as an extra here as well. Commentary tracks would have been welcome as there are a number of bright scholars at UCLA, USC and NYU that would gladly have tackled that here. At the very least having a director that does comedy and appreciates Sturges (or that is stylistically similar) would be great. Although he's not the same type of comedy director Mel Brooks or Buck Henry would have provided great commentary tracks (as would Christopher Guest). Ah the world of missed opportunities. If only I ran Universal's vintage film division.
Keep in mind that three of the seven titles here have been released before two of them in superior editions by Criterion. Still, it's hard to argue with the price for this set. I'd suggest keeping your Criterion titles for the extras since Universal has been stingy with anything worthwhile here.
A collection of terrific films at a great price sans much in the way of extras appears celebrating one of the comedic masterminds of film direction from the 20th century. If Sturges hadn't come along film comedy would have been the poorer for it. His films have had a wide ranging impact on a variety of comedy writers/directors/actors through exposure in revival houses and television. This great collection of some classic (and one not so classic) Sturges films is worthwhile for fans. Between this, the Criterion releases and Paramount the bulk of his best material is available finally on DVD.
Synopsis of the film's plots below (whic don't do their comedy elements justice I might add).
Beginning with Sturges "The Great McGinty" with Brian Donlevy (who reprises the role briefly in "Sullivan's Travels" in an amusing cameo) is one of the best political satires of the era as well. Donlevy plays Daniel McGinty who rises to the top in politics due to his connections and the corruption of the political machine. McGinty eventually becomes Governor but along the way develops a conscience when he falls in love with the woman he married to help propel him to power. Its a brilliant, cynical and dark comedy that makes no apologies nor does it try and take the Capra's more sentimental optimism.
1940 was one of Sturges most prolific periods. He also wrote and directed "Christmas in July" with Dick Powell, Ellen Drew and Sturges regular William Demarest. Adapted from his own play Sturges "Christmas in July" is set during The Depression with Dick Powell playing Jimmy McDonald a naïve character who keeps trying to make his big splash by winning $25,000 in a advertising contest for coffee. He believes he has won and he and girlfriend are offered promotions and become minor celebrities. Of course this is Sturges not Frank Capra so the wit is more cynical.
"The Lady Eve" presented Sturges with a rare opportunity--he gets two top notch stars Henry Fonda and Barbara Stanwyck who take to their comedic roles as if they were born to play them./ Jean Harrington (Stanwyck) just wants to land wealthy shy guy Charles Pike (Fonda) because of the money but ends up falling in love anyway but with a healthy dose of--yes--sly sarcasm at the heart of the film. It's not Sturges most accomplished as its clear the elements of the plot were used before for other screwball comedies but it's more about what Sturges does with the material than the material itself that matters here.
"Sullivan's Travels" has always been my favorite film by Struges. Film director John Sullivan (A very funny Joel McCrea) has had it with making over-the-top comedies. He wants to make SERIOUS films about humanity's plight but has no clue how to as he was born with a silver spoon in his mouth. So he becomes a hobo wandering the camps that are occupied by the disenfranchised. What he discovers though is that escape and hope are just as valuable as making films raising social issues. Veronica Lake plays his love interest and with her sweeping hair created a craze. It's brilliant, sarcastic, satirical and a moving drama all within the scope of a comedy. It's one of Sturges' outstanding achievements and definitely still one of the 100 Greatest Films of All Time.
McCrea appears again in "The Palm Beach Story" another of Sturges brilliant great screwball comedies that plays with the conventions of the genre. Tom and Gerry (Joel McCrea and Claudette Colbert) are up to their eyeballs in debt. Tom's an inventor with impractical creations. Gerry decides to leave him and find a rich beau John Hackensacker (Rudy Vallee) while Tom tries to collect his wife Hackensacker's sister Centimillia -what a name--(Mary Astor) FALLS for him. It's a rollicking screwball with some of the funniest sequences from any film. Although this wasn't my favorite Sturges comedy for a long time I've come to realize it's probably one of his best.
"The Great Moment" is an odd drama/comedy focusing on a dentist/ inventor (McCrea again) who comes up with anaesthesia during the 19th century. The film chronicles the dentists attempts to protect his invention and profit from it while others push him to release its secret to the public for the greater good. Of course the greater good in this case is for a company to exploit the invention without paying him a penny. It's an odd film and very uneven. We'll never know what Sturges truly intended here as the film was taken away from him and recut by the studio prior to release. It's one of the few Sturges films that I hadn't seen before (I did catch portions of the film on TV though throughout the years but never saw the whole film) and it's not among his best but does have some sparkling passages in it. Needless to say audiences were a bit baffled at the time and the film flopped at the box office.
Finally we have Eddie Bracken as the lead in "Hail the Conquering Hero" the last film that Sturges made for Paramount. Bracken plays Woodrow a man who is forced to masquerade as a hero. Discharged from the military during World War II Woodrow never sees any action and hasn't told anyone back home that he is a civilian again. Convinced by a group of Marines to pretend he served he is greeted as a hero suddenly honored by his home town for his service. Again Sturges uses an absurd situation to act as both social critic and humorists roles that he was born to assume.
Miracle of Morgan's Creek Sold Separately
Richard E. Hourula | Berkeley, CA. United States | 01/29/2007
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Let's get the negatives out of the way: 1) Mysteriously, "Miracle of Morgan's Creek" is not included in this set; 2) There are no special features to speak of.
That's one big and one small quibble and now that they're out of the way I am delighted to heartily endorse and cheerfully recommend this most wonderful collection of films.
Preston Sturges (for whom the term mercurial may have been coined) had a short and absolutely brilliant career as a successful writer-director. From "The Great McGinity" (1940) and "The Great Moment" (1944) -- the presence of the adjective "great" in both titles seems appropriate -- Sturges produced the films inthis collection and the one notably excluded. He had a scattering of successes a few years later but his brief brilliantly shining moment had all but flickered.
Be that as it may we do have this absolute treasure of seven films, some available on DVD for the first time. They combine high brow social satire with bawdy slapstick -- not just in the same picture, sometimes in the same scene!
Political corruption in "McGinity" con artists in "The Lady Eve" the role of film in society "Sullivan's Travels" heroism in "Hail the Conquering Hero" and more are all subjects of Sturges' fun. And the stars do come out. Barbara Stanwyck, Joel MCrea, Henry Fonda, Claudette Colbert, Veronica Lake and Brian Donleavy appear along with Sturges' regularly featured ensemble players. And what an ensemble, highlighted by the redoubatle William Demarest.
There's not a clunker in this reasonably priced set. What you get is some of the best films of the early 1940's replete with memorable scenes (Stanwyck seducing Fonda in "Eve" the dialogue between MCrea and his producers at the beginning of "Sullivan's" the Ale and Quail Club in "Palm Beach.) What you don't get...okay so I can't get over the omission of "Morgan's" sue me.
be that as it may we do have this absolute tresure some availbe on DVD for the first time. They combine high brow social satire with bawdy slapstick -- not just in the same picutre, in the same scene!
Political corruption in "McGinity" con artists in "The Lady Eve" the role of film in society "Sullivan's Travels" herois in "Hail the Conquering Hero" and more are all subjects of Sturges fun. And teh stars do come out. barbara Stanwyck, Joel MCrea, Henry Fonda, Claudette Colbert, Veronica Lakeand Brian Donleavy appear along Sturges' regualry featured ensemable players.
There's not a clunker in this reasonably priced set. What you get is some of the best films of the early 1940's repleete with memorable scences (Stanwyck seducing Fonda in "Eve" the dialogue between MCrea and his producers at the eginning of "Sullivan's" the Ale and Quail Club in "Palm Beach.) What you don't get...okay so I can't get over the ommission of "Morgan's" sue me."