Max Ophüls, Stuart Heisler, Mel Ferrer, Preston Sturges, Paul Weatherwax – Vendetta (1950)


Max Ophuls’ first American film. Fired by Howard Hughes after falling behind schedule, Ophuls was replaced by Preston Sturges, who had written the script. Sturges was then fired also. Over the next four years, Hughes tinkered incessantly with the project, and an array of writers and directors had their way with it. Finally editor Don Siegel attempted to put the thing together and make sense of it.

So the movie is messy but with stunning sequences. Most sources credit Mel Ferrer with directing the ending, but it’s clear he only shot the leaden coda. The actual climax is a beautifully orchestrated, stunningly lit stalking scene with the principal characters hunting each other through a misty wood. Absolutely beautiful, and if this is what made Ophuls go over schedule, as seems likely, he was right to take the time to get it looking this amazing. Continue reading

Preston Sturges – The Great Moment (1944)


In the winter of 1868, Eben Frost (William Demarest) goes to a Boston pawnshop and redeems a silver medal, inscribed to “Dr. W.T.G. Morton, the Benefactor of Mankind, with the Gratitude of Humanity.” Frost drives to a country farmhouse and gives the medal to Morton’s widow, Elizabeth Morton (Betty Field) who explains to her daughter, Betty (Donivee Lee), that Frost was the first person given anesthesia by her father, Boston dentist Dr. W.T.G. Morton (Joel McCrea.) Continue reading

Preston Sturges – The Lady Eve [+Extras] (1941)


“Criterion” wrote:
A conniving father and daughter meet up with the heir to a brewery fortune—a wealthy but naïve snake enthusiast—and attempt to bamboozle him at a cruise ship card table. Their plan is quickly abandoned when the daughter falls in love with their prey. But when the heir gets wise to her gold-digging ways, she must plot to re-conquer his heart. One of Sturges’s most clever and beloved romantic comedies, The Lady Eve balances broad slapstick and sophisticated sexiness with perfect grace. Continue reading