In life, writer/director/actor Preston Sturges was an interesting man, to say the least. A not-so-successful inventor in his early years (although he did invent a "kissproof" lipstick for his mother's cosmetic company) and a playwright who enjoyed some success, he eventually made his way to Hollywood and screenwriting, where he found great success. The films that bear his directorial credit are also distinctive — marked by memorable characters, madcap situations and brilliant social and political commentary — no doubt influenced by the colorful life he led. If you like rom coms that gallop along with snappy dialogue and plenty of absurdity, Preston's your man. Don't try to follow plotlines too closely. Suspend your disbelief and enjoy the wild and witty ride this January as the Humboldt County Library's Based of the Book Movie Series presents four classic Preston Sturges comedies on Tuesdays at 6:30 p.m. (free).
On tap first is the The Miracle of Morgan's Creek (1943) on Jan. 8. Tame by today's standards but controversial at the time, this film finds party girl Trudy married and pregnant — with no recollection of how either went down — after a soldier send-off party. Good intentions and hilarity ensue. Hosted by Jan Ostrom.
Next up is The Palm Beach Story (1942) on Jan. 15, 6:30 p.m. It's a screwball romantic comedy about a married couple on the outs over finances. Wife decides help hubby's hobbies by divorcing him and marrying a millionaire for his money. Hosted by Journal arts and features editor Jennifer Fumiko Cahill (herself, a screwball romantic comedy).
Then comes The Great McGinty (1940) on Jan. 22. This satire of political corruption landed Sturges a Best Writing, Original Screenplay Oscar and established him as one of the first writer/directors in film, setting him on course to write/direct seven highly successful films in the 1940s. Hosted by Bob Doran.
Finally, catch Hail the Conquering Hero (1944) on Jan. 29. Small-town boy leaves for the Marines and comes back a "hero," when in reality he was kicked out of boot camp. Sentimental and funny, this is considered one of Sturges' finest. Hosted by Journal contributor Gabrielle Gopinath.