Good news, just in time for writer-director Preston Sturges' birthday: Universal is releasing a boxed DVD set of seven Sturges movies on Nov. 21. Some of the films are being released on DVD for the first time in this country, such as Christmas in July and The Great McGinty. Other movies, such as The Lady Eve and Sullivan's Travels, have been available only as pricey Criterion DVDs. The only problem is that the movies aren't being released individually, so if you already own The Palm Beach Story on DVD (like I do) and you want to see the newly released movies, you're forced to double-dip and buy the whole boxed set. Bleah.
The above photo is from the opening credits of The Palm Beach Story, which is probably my favorite Sturges film. So many romantic comedies of the Thirties ended with a wedding, but this movie begins with one, and then the ominous sentence: "And they lived happily ever after ... or did they?" Several years after the screwball wedding in the opening credits, Tom (Joel McCrea) and Gerry (Claudette Colbert) are having money and other problems, and Gerry decides to run away to Palm Beach for a divorce. The film is full of bizarre characters like The Weinie King, the Ale and Quail Club, and the oft-married Princess Centamillia (Mary Astor). And Toto, too! The film is also full of one-liners, from Gerry's "You have no idea what a long-legged woman can do without doing anything at all" to Princess Centamillia's "You will care for me, though. I grow on people. Like moss." And let's not forget "Nothing is permanent in this world ... except Roosevelt." The final shot is a classic spoof on the traditional romantic comedy -- I wish I could include it here, but I'd ruin a very funny movie.