CHRISTMAS IN JULY
1940, Universal, 67 min, USA, Dir: Preston Sturges

Preston Sturges’ second feature as director stars Dick Powell as a humble clerk who thinks he’s won a big contest and starts spending like it’s, well, you know. Big problem: He doesn’t know he’s the victim of a practical joke. Typical madcap mayhem with Ellen Drew, Raymond Walburn, William Demarest, Franklin Pangborn and the rest of the Sturges stock company.


EASY LIVING
1937, Universal, 88 min, USA, Dir: Mitchell Leisen

Preston Sturges wrote this Depression-era Cinderella story, in which working girl Jean Arthur's fortunes change after she lucks into possession of a rich woman's coat. As those around her assume that what she wears is an indicator of who she is, Arthur climbs the social ladder and eventually falls in love with Ray Milland - the son of the coat's real owner. Sturges' wit is on full display here, given added elegance by Leisen's beautiful direction.


HAIL THE CONQUERING HERO
1944, Universal, 100 min, USA, Dir: Preston Sturges

When Eddie Bracken is discharged from the military for chronic hay fever, his pals decide to send him home with a reputation as a great war hero. What ensues is a flurry of patriotic fervor, some genuine and some ridiculous, but all of it hilarious in writer-director Preston Sturges' hands. Sturges' incisive view of what defines true heroism during wartime is as spot-on today as it was in 1944, and his direction of an ensemble of gifted character actors is a timeless delight.


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