Wednesday, November 10, 2004

Go hither to yonder window and act as if you know NOTHING!

I just finished re-watching The Lady Eve, a fantastic film in the canon of the greatest comedic writer/director too few have heard of, Preston Sturges. I send love out to Walter, a grad student at UT who introduced me to the sublime pleasure of Sturges through The Miracle of Morgan's Creek (still my favorite).

Tonight's screening was introduced and, uh, concluded by New Yorker film critic Anthony Lane, a wit if there ever was one. After his hilarious, pointed scripted remarks on the film, Lane opened the floor for audience questions and comfortably held forth like he had always wanted to answer that very question. Sure, I'm a sucker for slighty stuttered, too-fast-be-be-completely-intelligible Brit-speak, but this guy was just compelling. I almost invited him to go see the Spongebob Squarepants movie with me before I recovered my senses. His overall point was that movies aren't made like that anymore. Sort of obvious, yet still true and sad. Later, my heart lept with joy when there was a question about what movies of the past 20 years would still be appreciated years into the future. His answer? Groundhog Day.

Getting back to what I meant to talk about, the time has come for a broader appreciation of Preston Sturges movies. You'll thank me when you treasure Eddie Bracken for something else besides Uncle Wally from Vacation. Mr. Bracken died a couple years ago and I was quite melancholy over it. I'd met him several years ago when he came to UT for a screening of another Sturges classic Hail the Conquering Hero. He told wonderful stories about making the film and the old days of Hollywood. I always thought that "sparkling eyes" was a ridiculous cliche, but he had 'em. Great hair too. It was his birthday and there was cake afterward. I managed a few words with him, but I was star-struck and can't remember what either of us said. Great comic actor, sweet man.

There I go again, talking about someone other than Sturges. Suffice to say, be at the crest of the Preston Sturges appreciation wave, call me and we'll watch one of the Sturges/Bracken films.

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