Five Screenplays by Preston Sturges
The publication of Five Screenplays by Preston Sturges is a real treat for anyone with more than a passing interest in screenwriting. Preston was quite simply one of Hollywood’s greatest writer-directors, and the scripts included here give clear evidence as to why.
Five Screenplays by Preston Sturges is much more than an anthology of classic forties film scripts. This rather heavy compilation reaches a class that other published collections of scripts don’t even approach. In all honesty, it does for scripts what The Norton Shakespeare does for the Bard. Each script is prefaced with a well researched academic essay. The essays meticulously examine the original sources for each script, and relying on papers from the Sturges Library, trace the development of each story through its various drafts. As a writer of dramatic work, this kept sending me back to the introduction after finishing each script. The story development that occurs between each draft follows something akin to a story arch. It’s indispensable insight and analysis for a writer who is going to complete more than one draft of anything.
There is also an excellent thirty page introduction by Brian Henderson, which outlines Preston’s rise and examines his work. It also serves to illustrate the dynamics of the world in which he worked.
And let’s not forget the scripts themselves. Included are scripts for some of the finest films Hollywood produced in the early forties: The Great McGinty (1940), Christmas In July (1940), The Lady Eve (1941), Sullivan’s Travels (1942) and Hail The Conquering Hero (1944).