Christmas in July: The Life and Art of Preston Sturges

Diane Jacobs, Author University of California Press $45 (525p) ISBN 978-0-520-07926-7
The writer and director of such classics as The Lady Eve , Sullivan's Travels , The Great McGinty , Hail the Conquering Hero and The Miracle of Morgan's Creek , Sturges (1898-1959) led a fabled, boom-or-bust life, as frenetic and full as one of his movies. His eccentric mother, Mary Desti, owned a perfume house (the Maison Desti) and traveled extensively with her best friend and one of Sturges's artistic influences, dancer Isadora Duncan. His adoptive father was a staid, reassuring Chicago stockbroker. After achieving an overnight success as a playwright, Sturges went to Hollywood and became one of the first writers who directed his own work. At his height of popularity, he was the third-highest paid person in the U.S., but because he lived lavishly, was generous with friends, dabbled in many money-losing businesses, and never saved, he died penniless--after spending most of the the last decade of his life writing scripts that were never produced. Author of Hollywood Renaissance and a book about Woody Allen, Jacobs offers a detailed account of Sturges's life and work, filling in many of the gaps in Sturges's autobiography that appeared two years ago. Unfortunately, her narrative is too dry for such a witty, colorful subject. Photos not seen by PW. (Oct.)
Reviewed on: 11/02/1992
Release date: 11/01/1992
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