Cover Image: Crooked, but Never Common

Crooked, but Never Common

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Member Reviews

As the author says at the outset, this book is not meant to be an overview or biography of Preston Sturges' life.  However, he does a great job weaving aspects about his personal and professional challenges as he dissects each of his films.  In the descriptions of each of the films, Klawans gives an incredibly detailed description of what we seen on screen as well as the motivations and drama behind-the-scenes.  I now am inspired to watch these films again (I had seen many of them over the years) or for the first time.  This book will be a great companion to really seeing what is happening in these films.  I recommend this book.
Thank you to Netgalley and Columbia University Press for an ARC in exchange for my honest review.
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This book is exceptionally well-researched and gives an in-depth look into the films of Preston Sturges and how they relate to other events in early Hollywood. I enjoyed the writing style. That said, if you don't have a basic understanding of the running and history of early Hollywood, you might easily get lost. This is especially true if you have not watched any Preston Sturges films. I have seen several, but there were still references that I did not get, despite enjoying the book's topic. I give this 4/5 stars, but with the understanding, it might not be for everyone.
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This is a detailed discussion of Preston Sturges' films beginning in 1939 and continuing through 1948, after which Sturges began to deteriorate creatively and mentally.  All of these films were written by Sturges, some as he was filming them, and they almost always follow the same pattern. 

Each of his films follow a man who thinks he is controlling his life, but in reality is being controlled by those around him and the intervening period of the film. Though Klawans spends large amount of time explaining (his opinion of course) what he thinks Sturges is doing, he also compares each new film to the prior ones that have been done.

Even from the beginning of his filming things are a bit eccentric they become more a more weird.  His marriage is almost a copy of the plots of his movies and it becomes hard to tell what's real and what is cinema.  It's an unusual story about an unusual man.
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Preston Sturges is a Hollywood icon. In "Crooked, but Never Common," Stuart Klawans offers an in-depth examination of Sturges' work. This is a fascinating work of film criticism which will introduce Sturges to a whole new audience. A must read for fans of film.
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A magnificent introduction and analysis of the works of one of the most talented filmmakers in Hollywood history. 
Preston Sturges was a genius when it came to comedies and this delightful monograph allowed me to rewatch 10 priceless jewels from the mid 20th century. An absolute must for all the movie buffs out there. It was simply a fabulous read! 

Many thanks to Netgalley and CU for this terrific ARC
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Crooked, But Never Common: The Films of Preston Sturges, by Stuart Klawans, primarily looks at his classics and ties them together in a way that offers a much more coherent and appreciative view of his work as a whole.

While I have watched the main ten films at least once, this volume took me back to the times we studied one in a film course. Because none of the courses were devoted to Sturges, it seemed very much like we would have fun discussing the movie, the professor would comment on Sturges being the writer and director, but we never seemed to talk about him as a true groundbreaker. Yet he was, though admittedly not on the grand scale of those who are usually cited as such. Klawans does a great job of remedying that situation.

The chapters, each devoted to one of the films, offer wonderful readings largely through connecting them to Sturges' personal life as well as the society which they were critiquing. As we move from film to film, we begin to see what his strengths during this red-hot period of his career were as well as anticipate why it wasn't going to last. 

For those less interested in film history, this is still an ideal book to use to revisit these films, The different ways into each film will make them speak to you in new ways. And if you've never seen any of his films, or maybe don't remember them, this is a great companion.

I found the attempt to trace a genealogy of Sturges into contemporary film artists to be particularly interesting. For me, I find the directors and screenwriters who treat all of the characters lovingly to be the ones I would associate with Sturges. I don't necessarily think that is because they are directly descended from him but rather that that feeling toward the characters is what I most enjoy in Sturges, and what I most enjoy in a lot of contemporary film.

While not extensive, I think the bibliography offers a number of key texts not only on Sturges but also a handful of general books that are well worth reading.

Reviewed from a copy made available by the publisher via NetGalley.
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I would like to thank Columbia University Press and Net Galley for the opportunity to read this book as an ARC. This is an intriguing premise for a book. Preston Sturges died in 1959. His best films were made in the mid 40's- 80 years ago. So it begs the question, why now? I am not entirely sure we get the answer to that question. There is a lot of information in this book. It traces Sturges's film career through all of his movies. Each movie is given a chapter with a full description,  along with a great deal of information about the shooting of the film itself.It also gives  a running commentary  showing how the characters in the movies coincide with various points in Sturges's life. It was clearly well researched  and there was a wealth of information. I have seen several of these films, however many years ago. I think this would be better served as part of a film study class, watching the movies, and then reading the corresponding sections. I fear it had been too long since I had seen the films for the information to have as much an impact as it should have made. This is a serious book for serious film students.
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