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USA 1942
Directed by
Preston Sturges
85 minutes
Rated PG

Reviewed by
Bernard Hemingway
2.5 stars

The Palm Beach Story

The fifth of eight films that Sturges wrote and directed for Paramount Studios during his most prolific years, from 1940 and 1946, The Palm Beach Story is in many ways a re-working of his 1941 hit The Lady Eve.

The main ideas are the same but here the far too sweet Claudette Colbert is miscast as the fortune-hunting wife of failed architect Joel McCrea. If the female role required the panache of a Barbara Stanwyck, who had been so effective in The Lady Eve, Joel McCrea, who had been quite solid in Sturges's Sullivan's Travels, released earlier the same year, simply goes through the motions as the frustrated husband.

The first two-thirds of the film are squandered with witless diversions provided by overlong and over-played sight gags and eyeball rolling by Negro lackeys. It is only when naïve multi-millionaire Rudi Vallee and Mary Astor as his much-married, party girl sister enter proceedings that Sturges's wit kicks in with some first class banter, that makes the long wait worthwhile. Not surprisingly this was the last of Sturges's screwball romantic comedies.

FYI: The film's title was a takeoff of the similarly entitled The Philadelphia Story (1940).




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