Sunday, January 23, 2011

#302: The Palm Beach Story

1942, TSPDT Rank #180

A major hit-making director in the 1940s, Preston Sturges turned out a bunch of comedies around this time period that have had a lot of influence on the genre ever since. The Palm Beach Story is definitely one of those films. I was thrown off-guard from the beginning with the lightning-quick, bizarre, and confusing opening sequence played over the credits. This sequence isn't referred to until the end, and after the credits we get right into the main story, about a very attractive woman (Claudette Colbert, very suited to this role) who is not satisfied with her financially unsuccessful inventor husband and decides to get a divorce in Palm Beach and attract some rich men while she's young. The husband (Joel McCrea, hilarious as well) doesn't like this, and chases her all over the place trying to stop her from leaving him. If you've ever seen Sturge's The Miracle of Morgan's Creek, you'll know that he liked to push the envelope with fast-paced and edgy dialogue, and this film is definitely no exception. A bit uneven in parts, to be sure, and not always funny - but it's hilarious when it is.

(Rating: 7/10)

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