Where’s the next Preston Sturges?

In the late 1930’s and for most of the 1940’s, one man blazed like a nova of talent, streaking across the sky and burning out just as quickly.  Preston Sturges started out as as a writer of Broadway plays and was lured to Hollywood as a script doctor but even in a town where writers like Steinbeck, Chandler and O’neill found work, Sturges was able to rise above, attaining a position where, as a writer, he was able to negotiate to direct his own screenplay (The Great McGinty).  What came after was a win streak unparalleled to this day for a writer/director: Christmas In July, Sullivan’s Travels, The Lady Eve, Miracle of Morgan’s Creek, Hail the Conquering Hero, all truly great films and box office hits.  He faltered with The Great Moment and Sin Of Harold Diddlebock but came back to give us the sublime Unfaithfully Yours, then faded into relative obscurity.  The fact is any writer/director would give up his firstborn for even one of these true classics, let alone six in a row.  When I think about the wasted opportunities Sturges had into the 1950’s until his untimely death in 1959, it makes his success all the more poignant.  So, the question is…where is the new Preston Sturges?  Billy Wilder?  He mixed his genres too much.  Woody Allen?  Too inconsistent and no box office.  Judd Apatow?  Those aren’t classics!    If you can think of someone, let me know.  Until then, I’ll dig out my Sturges collection and keep an eye on the horizon.

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