Picks and Pans Review: Preston Sturges: the Rise and Fall of An American Dreamer

updated 07/02/1990 at 01:00 AM EDT

originally published 07/02/1990 01:00AM

PBS (Mon., July 2, 9 P.M. ET)

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The season premiere of American Masters is devoted to Sturges, the colorful screenwriter turned director who, as narrator Fritz Weaver notes, "introduced irony to Hollywood comedy." In the '40s, he made a brilliant string of films (The Great McGinty, Sullivan's Travels, The Lady Eve, The Miracle of Morgan's Creek, etc.), which were literate, witty, energetic and finely tuned. A series of commercial flops (The Sin of Harold Diddle-bock, The Beautiful Blonde From Bashful Bend) spelled the end of his career and put him into an alcoholic decline. He died of a heart attack in 1959 at the Algonquin Hotel in New York City. Using clips and the recollections of friends and actors like Cesar Romero and Eddie Bracken, the film does justice to a talented, prolific and iconoclastic figure.

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