Monday, May 5, 2008


The great Preston Sturges directed some of the wittiest films ever made. He reinvented comedy for Hollywood. This trailer is from a film retrospective of his work at Bryn Mawr Film Institute, and a reminder that "he's still the guy to beat."

I saw a brand new comedy this weekend. My girlfriend Wendy and I sat in the darkness, waiting for laughs. We sat there like Vladimir and Estragon, albeit with Diet Coke. Time slowed down to a near standstill. The movie was "Baby Mama" starring Tina Fey and Amy Poehler, two very funny people. What happened? Hollywood has recently discovered the hilarity of pregnancy -- wanted, unwanted, too old, too young, with surrogate mothers -- and this is the latest in a half dozen. What ever happened to originality?

Preston Sturges was original -- and funny. If you want a good laugh, skip all the formulaic, market-tested comedies out there, and rent "Sullivan's Travels." It tells the story of a Hollywood director who is sick and tired of making mindless fluff. He dreams of moving among the real people, and making a great film of social significance -- and it's hilarious. By the way, the film he dreams of making is called "Oh, Brother Where Art Thou." Years later, the Coen Brothers honored Sturges in a film of this name. With a little sex in it.

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