Preston Sturges  

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Kunstformen der Natur (1904) by Ernst Haeckel
Kunstformen der Natur (1904) by Ernst Haeckel

Preston Sturges (August 29, 1898August 6, 1959), originally Edmund Preston Biden, was a celebrated screenwriter and film director born in Chicago.

Sturges took the screwball comedy format of the 1930s to another level, writing dialogue that, heard today, is often surprisingly naturalistic, mature, and ahead of its time, despite the farcical situations. It is not uncommon for a Sturges character to deliver an exquisitely turned phrase and take an elaborate pratfall within the same scene. A love scene between Henry Fonda and Barbara Stanwyck in The Lady Eve was enlivened by a horse, which repeatedly poked its nose into Fonda's head.

Sturges is often credited as the first writer to direct his own script, but this is not true: Charles Chaplin, for instance, was already writing and directing feature-length films by 1921. A few other major directors such as Frank Capra and Howard Hawks also preceded Sturges in making the leap from writing to directing, as did less celebrated figures. However, Sturges may have been the first celebrated Hollywood screenwriter to be promoted as having made the "leap" to directing for publicity purposes. Famously, he sold the story for The Great McGinty to Paramount Pictures for $10, in return for being allowed to direct the film.

Unless indicated otherwise, the text in this article is either based on Wikipedia article "Preston Sturges" or another language Wikipedia page thereof used under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License; or on research by Jahsonic and friends. See Art and Popular Culture's copyright notice.

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