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Second Takes -- Preston Sturges

August 8, 2009 |  8:00 am


Oct. 2, 1932, Preston Sturges James Curtis, author of the Preston Sturges biography "Between Flops," writes:
 
I was a little taken aback today when I came upon your clutch of articles on Preston Sturges, and was suddenly reminded that he died exactly 50 years ago in that tiny room at the Algonquin Hotel in New York. I began researching my Sturges biography ("Between Flops") 33 years ago when I was received at the hilltop mansion of Rudy Vallee, where Sturges was the subject of conversation between rounds of tennis.
 
I think now of the embarrassment of riches I had in writing that book--Joel McCrea, William Wyler, Billy Wilder, Eddie Bracken, Colleen Moore, Orson Welles, Bill Demarest, three of his four wives--and how today I'm reduced to interviewing the children of those people--and glad to get them. Mr. S., incidentally, turns up in this book I've just finished, in that Spencer Tracy was the star of "The Power and the Glory," the film that supposedly invented the flashback (it really didn't) but does look suspiciously like "Citizen Kane."  
 
The late Earl Felton's comment about Sturges fits him best: "He was too large for this smelly resort, and the big studios were scared to death of him. A man who was a triple threat (writing, directing, and producing!) kept them awake nights, and I'm positive they were all waiting for him to fall on his face so they could pounce on him and devour this terrible threat to their stingy talents... In this, alas, I was right. They pounced, and they got him good. But Preston knew the great days, when he was turning out marvelous pictures... those days when his can glowed like a port light from everyone kissing it!" 
 
    

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