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 Post subject: 742 The Palm Beach Story
PostPosted: Wed Oct 15, 2014 5:52 pm 
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This wild tale of wacky wedlock from Preston Sturges takes off like a rocket and never lets up. Joel McCrea and Claudette Colbert play Tom and Gerry, a married New York couple on the skids, financially and romantically. With Tom hot on her trail, Gerry takes off for Florida on a mission to solve the pair’s money troubles, which she accomplishes in a highly unorthodox manner. A mix of the witty and the utterly absurd, The Palm Beach Story is a high watermark of Sturges’s brand of physical comedy and verbal repartee, featuring sparkling performances from its leads as well as hilarious supporting turns from Rudy Vallee and Mary Astor as a brother and a sister ensnared in Tom and Gerry’s high jinks.

Disc Features
New 4K digital restoration, with uncompressed monaural soundtrack on the Blu-ray
New interview with writer and film historian James Harvey about director Preston Sturges
New interview with actor and comedian Bill Hader about Sturges
Safeguarding Military Information, a 1942 World War II propaganda short written by Sturges
Screen Guild Theater radio adaptation of the film from March 1943
PLUS: An essay by critic Stephanie Zacharek


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PostPosted: Wed Oct 15, 2014 6:18 pm 
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My least favorite Sturges and none of the supplements strike me as essential (I've already seen the short) -- I can't always figure why Criterion is licensing classic Hollywood films if this is all they do with them


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PostPosted: Wed Oct 15, 2014 6:20 pm 
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The short, for those that aren't aware, is also on Arrow's stacked release for Sullivan's Travels.


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PostPosted: Wed Oct 15, 2014 6:58 pm 
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domino harvey wrote:
My least favorite Sturges and none of the supplements strike me as essential (I've already seen the short) -- I can't always figure why Criterion is licensing classic Hollywood films if this is all they do with them


really? Does least favorite mean its the lowest of your favorite Sturges films or your most disliked Sturges film? I consider it second only to Miracle at Morgan's Creek, and even if you don't like it, it's far better than a mediocre film like The Great Moment or the good but not great films Christmas in July or Great McGinty.


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PostPosted: Wed Oct 15, 2014 7:07 pm 
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Christmas in July is top tier Sturges for me, and I think the Great Moment gets an unfair rap (though it would not be anywhere near the top of my list). I'd put the Palm Beach Story down with Beautiful Blonde and Unfaithfully Yours, though fewer people like those than this movie. I do greatly admire the audacious ending to this film, though!

EDIT: To be clear, I don't think Sturges ever made a bad film, and so me saying this is my "least favorite" still means it's a solid three-star piece of entertainment and any curious viewers should jump on it as they should any Sturges film


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PostPosted: Thu Oct 16, 2014 2:02 am 
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It's actually one of the few Sturges I'd bother owning (which makes me appreciate the short inclusion though it probably is a better fit for Miracle). Definitely my favorite of his popular films.


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PostPosted: Thu Oct 16, 2014 3:15 am 
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Zacharek penning the essay? Urgh.


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PostPosted: Thu Oct 16, 2014 11:15 am 
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I do have a certain amount of sympathy with Criterion here - they pretty much mined the Sturges-extras seam to exhaustion with Sullivan's Travels and The Lady Eve.

The Kenneth Bowser documentary on both the Criterion and Arrow Sullivan's Travels will likely remain definitive (if only because many of its interviewees have since died, and there's nobody else alive with first-hand knowledge), and there's precious little footage that isn't in the actual films, so pretty much all you have to fall back on are expert appreciations.

But if Arrow's Sullivan's Travels is any guide, Preston Sturges benefits surprisingly massively from an HD upgrade, if only because of his fondness for shots cramming multiple people into the frame and having them all talking at once. That extra facial detail really does make a very significant difference.


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PostPosted: Thu Oct 16, 2014 11:24 am 
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I do wonder what the reasoning for Criterion not simultaneously upgrading either/both Sullivan's Travels and the Lady Eve was, though


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PostPosted: Thu Oct 16, 2014 11:45 am 
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It could be as simple as "three individual Sturges releases is one too many." They've paired films by Godard and Melville and lots of other filmmakers in their monthly release slates but have they ever done three or more stand alone releases from the same director that weren't part of some box set? January is a slow month and The Palm Beach Story is a bigger surprise. I bet The Lady Eve and Sullivan's Travels will soon be upgraded together.

Speaking about the film: It's definitely one of my two favorites. I can say objectively that Sullivan's Travels is the greater film and I can see how others could make similar cases for The Lady Eve and The Miracle of Morgan's Creek. But The Palm Beach Story is the one that, for me, embodies so much of what I love about this era of screwball comedy, comedies of remarriage and Sturges' work in general. If I had to pick any one to rewatch randomly on any given day this is the one I'd be happiest to see again.


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PostPosted: Thu Oct 16, 2014 11:51 am 
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It's a very close-run thing, but I wouldn't be at all surprised if I laughed out loud more at The Palm Beach Story than I did at any of the other Sturges films. I'll certainly be snapping this one up.

As far as I'm aware, HD masters already exist for all the Universal-owned Sturges titles (which is his entire 1940-45 output bar The Miracle of Morgan's Creek) apart from The Great McGinty. Sullivan's Travels is certainly good enough to form the basis of a Criterion release.


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PostPosted: Thu Oct 16, 2014 12:05 pm 
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domino harvey wrote:
I do wonder what the reasoning for Criterion not simultaneously upgrading either/both Sullivan's Travels and the Lady Eve was, though

It could simply be they got pushed back a month or two for whatever reason.


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PostPosted: Thu Oct 16, 2014 12:38 pm 
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As far as I remember (and I may be wrong), the only time Criterion has paired an upgrade with a new release (outside of boxsets) is Children of Paradise/Les Visiteurs du Soir and the only time they've simultaneously upgraded two previously unpaired releases was the two Stillman's (and that was because of Damsels in Distress). I imagine they're afraid people are less likely to upgrade their old DVDs if there's a new release by the same director. And it's not an all unusual for Criterion to eke out titles when they've got a queue of them (a side effect of producers focusing on certain genres/directors?).

As for variable taste in Sturges, this is my no. 3 after Hail the Conquering Hero and Miracle of Morgan's Creek and it might be the one that makes me laugh the most. Sullivan's Travels is actually at the bottom of my list which I know is a superminority position (but like domino says any Sturges is good and I have yet to see Great Moment or his last two).


Last edited by Shrew on Thu Oct 16, 2014 1:14 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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PostPosted: Thu Oct 16, 2014 12:46 pm 
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They also upgraded Branded to Kill and Tokyo drifter at the same time


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PostPosted: Thu Oct 16, 2014 1:22 pm 
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But those were initially paired together (the same with Naked Kiss/Shock Corridor). The Sturges are 15 spines apart and were released two months apart (and according to our schedule the later spine of Sullivan's Travels was actually released first back in those very confusing early days).

I expect this will be something like the Antonioni films, and we'll get stuff slowly over the course of a year or two.


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PostPosted: Thu Oct 16, 2014 1:52 pm 
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They upgraded Metropolitan and Last Days of Disco at the same time, and those were more than 150 spine numbers apart, so there'd be nothing to stop them from upgrading two Sturges films at once. They went through their first six years of blu-ray with no Sturges at all, so that's reason enough to do more than one at the same time now.

The Palm Beach Story DVD in the Universal set has a nice detailed with visible grain, and the supplements on the Criterion don't really tempt me, so I'll pass on this. I've had to do that more and more, as I'm out of shelf space (until I have to toss out more cases and put the discs in binders, which I'm trying to postpone).


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PostPosted: Thu Oct 16, 2014 2:15 pm 
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Gregory wrote:
The Palm Beach Story DVD in the Universal set has a nice detailed with visible grain

Does it really? It's been a while since I watched my DVD, but I remember it looking pretty bad, probably being one of Universal's worst offenders when it comes to what DVD Beaver likes to call "faux grain." I found it incredibly distracting. Either way, I am ecstatic for this release. I go back and forth between this and Morgan's Creek as my favorite Sturges, and it's great that this will no longer be a barebones case, even if it doesn't match the other Criterions (or Arrow, for that matter) in terms of supplements. I think what I love about these two films in particular is just how unapologetically manic they are, throwing logic and practically sanity to the wind ("Are YOU a twin?"). Palm Beach's almost incomprehensible opening scene, Mary Astor's fast-talking heiress, the Ale and Quail Club ("Bang bang!"), the freaking Wienie King ... I really can't wait to see this again in HD.


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PostPosted: Thu Oct 16, 2014 2:20 pm 
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I'm on Team Palm Beach as well. Sullivan's Travel has always been a Sturges I found easier to admire than love. Here's hoping Morgan's Creek doesn't get left out.


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PostPosted: Thu Oct 16, 2014 2:26 pm 
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Palm Beach is my favorite Sturges film -- by a considerable margin. On the other hand, Morgan's Creek is too consistently hyperactive for me.


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PostPosted: Thu Oct 16, 2014 2:42 pm 

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My approach to Preston Sturges is pretty basic:

Funny: The Lady Eve, The Palm Beach Story, Christmas in July, Hail the Conquering Hero
Not so much: Sullivan's Travels, The Miracle of Morgan's Creek, The Great McGinty, Unfaithfully Yours

Unsurprisingly, I select from Funny every time.


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PostPosted: Thu Oct 16, 2014 3:40 pm 
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Feego wrote:
Gregory wrote:
The Palm Beach Story DVD in the Universal set has a nice detailed with visible grain

Does it really? It's been a while since I watched my DVD, but I remember it looking pretty bad, probably being one of Universal's worst offenders when it comes to what DVD Beaver likes to call "faux grain." I found it incredibly distracting.
Yes, it's a superb transfer to my eyes. I used to notice that Gary often used the terms "grain" and "faux grain" interchangeably, or at least I wasn't sure he was making a clear distinction between them.
If the grain that I see in that transfer were just digital noise, I would expect it to stay in motion even during the freeze-frames in the opening title sequence. Instead, what I see during those freezes is the grain in those frames freezing along with everything else, suggesting that what we're seeing was true to those shots, just like the freeze frame under the main title (at about 0:00:45) freezes the minor specks and scratches in the upper right corner of the frame.
The detail and depth seen in the wedding shot at the end of the opening sequence ("and they lived happily ever after...or did they?") is amazing for SD.
I'm sure it will look somewhat better on Criterion's Blu-ray, but probably not enough for me to want to upgrade.


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PostPosted: Thu Oct 16, 2014 9:43 pm 

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Saw for the first time a few months on TCM "The Sins Of Harold Diddlebock" aka "Mad Wednesday" and it's not that bad of a film and i thought Harold Lloyd was good in it. Lost money when it came out and critics did not like it but it's worth another look today.


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PostPosted: Thu Oct 16, 2014 10:16 pm 
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Jack Phillips wrote:
My approach to Preston Sturges is pretty basic:

Funny: The Lady Eve, The Palm Beach Story, Christmas in July, Hail the Conquering Hero
Not so much: Sullivan's Travels, The Miracle of Morgan's Creek, The Great McGinty, Unfaithfully Yours

Unsurprisingly, I select from Funny every time.


Pat Graham of the Chicago Reader actually singles out Unfaithfully Yours as the ONE Sturges film that he actually considers funny. I'm a much bigger fan of Sturges than Graham, but there are times when I think it's his funniest work too. Harrison's maniacal laughter, still conducting an orchestra as he finishes a daydream about KILLING his wife, always has me in stitches. It's so psychotic and so atypical of Sturges.

Morgan's Creek has the greatest concept ever made for movies - the "what happened last night?" plot that still pays off. (See The Hangover) You can pretty much make up whatever crazy shit you want, it works great. The crazier and more imaginative you are, the better. It works even better with Morgan's Creek because those kids are so 'aw shucks' wholesome and naive, it's hilarious to me.

Sullivan's Travels is still overrated to me. I still think it's very good, possibly great, but I just don't buy the message.


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PostPosted: Thu Oct 16, 2014 11:25 pm 

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domino harvey wrote:
I do wonder what the reasoning for Criterion not simultaneously upgrading either/both Sullivan's Travels and the Lady Eve was, though


The Lady Eve in particular - been waiting a long time for that one.


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PostPosted: Fri Oct 17, 2014 5:30 am 

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This is quite nice, but it is a bit of a wasted opportunity, I think. I recently viewed the entire Sturges filmography (as director), and I found Palm Beach Story to be overly silly. Especially, the train sequence. It just went way out of hand, and not in a funny way. Personally, I dug Hail the Conquering Hero the most, as one of his lesser known films, and I think that it would have been more appropriate for Criterion to release that one, especially considering its very filmic style with very long takes and tracking shots. This also somewhat applied to Miracle of Morgan's Creek (which was silly in a funny and political way). That one would've been a good Criterion pick too... I think I'll skip this and hope for further Sturges releases to follow on blu.


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