Saturday, November 28, 2009

Preston Sturges: Master of the Cockeyed Caravan, Part 2

Going Hollywood
In 1932, Sturges went to Hollywood and signed on with Universal as a writer. From the get-go, his writing wasn’t a hit with the studio bosses and his scripts were rejected. On his own, Sturges wrote a screenplay called The Power and the Glory, which he sold to the Fox studios for a fee and a percentage of the gross. During his time as a freelancer, he also wrote the screenplay for The Great McGinty, but no one was interested. It was during this freelance period that Sturges decided he wanted to be a director. Again, no one was interested in his services.

Studio musical chairs
After more writing positions at several other Hollywood studios, including MGM and Columbia, Sturges found himself back on the Universal lot. Assigned to write the screenplay for the Claudette Colbert vehicle, Imitaion of Life. With the success of this film, Sturges was on his way to a successful career as a screenwriter where he found he was in demand by the likes of Sam Goldwyn and Paramount studios. It was at Paramount that he would have his most enduring success.

A Paramount experience
At Paramount, Sturges wrote the screenplay for Remember the Night starring Fred MacMurray and Barbara Stanwyck. In spite of the fact that Sturges didn’t like the script changes made by director Mitchell Leisen, the film was an enourmous success. With his stock rising, Sturges was able to finally sell The Great McGinty script for $10, with the understanding that he would not only be the film’s writer, but its director as well. Film history was about to be made.

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