Handbook for the Confused

I’m actually reading about Heydrich right now, but I have to admit, this one looks more fun.

To find out which Preston Sturges-scripted ’30s comedy it derives from, go here. Nothing bad will happen.

2 Responses to “Handbook for the Confused”

  1. revelator60 Says:

    A very enticing write-up! Now I’ll have to track this one down. I didn’t know some of the Sturges stock company was involved. Sturges’s best biographer, Diane Jacobs, gives the film short-shrift in Christmas in July (“he was careful not to impose too many of his ideas on Hotel Haywire…the script was slight, but Paramount was satisfied”), perhaps because she was more interested in Sturges’s previous project.
    That was “Song of Joy,” originally intended a musical comedy for the European diva Marta Eggerth before morphing into a behind-the-scenes look at filmmaking, complete with barmy script conferences. According to Jacobs the script had “some of Preston’s finest wit and nimblest mixture of silliness and satire.” Much of the latter was directed at the Hollywood studios, which didn’t make Universal happy (Edward Sutherland informed his bosses “I am sure that making fun of producers, writers, etc. is not entertainment”). Sturges then took the script to MGM, where Louis B. Mayer loved it. He agreed to purchase the script if Eggerth agreed to star, but she asked for too much money and the project died.
    If someone ever manages to publish a book of Sturges’s unproduced scripts (what a dream that would be!) “Song of Joy” should be included with later efforts like “Nothing Doing” and “Look, Ma – I’m Dancin’.”

  2. Nothing any of Sturges’ biographers say convinces me they have actually seen Hotel Haywire (which is not an easy film to see and would have been even more inaccessible a few years back). They may have done, but they’re sufficiently vague to leave me uncertain. I definitely think it has more merit than any of them allow.

    As for Sturges not imposing too many of his ideas… he wrote it from scratch… and mentally cast it with Paramount actors.

    I’d love to read Song of Joy. The Sturges family seem determined to keep these things for themselves.

    He also wrote a completely new draft of Roman Holiday after declaring “There’s only one good line in it.” Wyler read the result and asked about the one line. “I decided not to use it.”

    Wyler decided not to use Sturges’ script (“The original was better”), but at least it was a payday for Preston.

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