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Refocus: the Films of Preston Sturges$
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Jeff Jaeckle and Sarah Kozloff

Print publication date: 2015

Print ISBN-13: 9781474406550

Published to Edinburgh Scholarship Online: May 2017

DOI: 10.3366/edinburgh/9781474406550.001.0001

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Preston Sturges, Sullivan’s Travels, and Film Authorship in Hollywood, 1941

Preston Sturges, Sullivan’s Travels, and Film Authorship in Hollywood, 1941

(p.46) Chapter 2 Preston Sturges, Sullivan’s Travels, and Film Authorship in Hollywood, 1941
Refocus: the Films of Preston Sturges

Virginia Wright Wexman

Edinburgh University Press

This chapter conducts a reading of Preston Sturges’s 1941 film Sullivan’s Travels that focuses on its discourses about film authorship. While the auteurism that drives much film criticism today routinely approaches directors as authors, in 1941 the case for directors had yet to be made in unequivocal terms. Drawing on archival materials housed at UCLA, including unproduced scripts and correspondence, the chapter argues that Sturges used the vehicle of Sullivan’s Travels to argue that neither producers nor stars like Veronica Lake can be taken seriously as authors. However, the film remains ambivalent about the rival claims to authorship mounted by screenwriters and directors. The reasons that lay behind this ambivalence arose from Sturges’s belief that, while screenwriters were the most important authors, directors were the ones who held the power in Hollywood.

Keywords:   Preston Sturges, Sullivan’s Travels, screenwriters, directors, producers, movie stars, Veronica Lake, authorship, auteurism

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