Whatever Happened to Preston Sturges
Preston Sturges made seven successful film comedies, the first of which was released in 1940 and the last in 1944. Throughout that time, he was one of America’s best-known directors. “Lubitsch and Hitchcock, each with the stamp of a great personality on his work, are names not half as familiar to the American public,” Vogue said of Sturges when Hail the Conquering Hero, his final hit, was released.
Then the bottom fell out of his career, and after 1949 he never again worked in Hollywood. For years the movies that had made his reputation—crazy comedies with wild plots involving political graft, imprisonment on a chain gang, one-night-stand pregnancies, and false war heroics—were neglected, and even after home video gave them a second life, his reputation failed to return to its early heights.
About the Author
Terry Teachout is COMMENTARY’s critic-at-large and the drama critic of the Wall Street Journal. Satchmo at the Waldorf, his first play, runs through November 4 at Long Wharf Theatre in New Haven, Connecticut.