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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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“These Are Troublous Times”: Social Class in the Comedies of Preston Sturges

“These Are Troublous Times”: Social Class in the Comedies of Preston Sturges

(p.133) Chapter 6 “These Are Troublous Times”: Social Class in the Comedies of Preston Sturges
Refocus: the Films of Preston Sturges

Christopher Beach

Edinburgh University Press

This chapter discusses the role of social class in three comedies directed by Preston Sturges in the early 1940s: Christmas in July, Sullivan’s Travels, and The Palm Beach Story. In tracing the development of class-based themes from Christmas in July through The Palm Beach Story, the chapter argues that Sturges shifts his emphasis from a more conventional form of social satire to a form of parody in which class attitudes are more difficult to discern. Among the three films discussed, only Christmas in July offers a straightforward treatment of social class. Sullivan’s Travels ends with a more ambivalent message about the social inequality and class stratification of American society, while The Palm Beach Story is as much a parody of class-based screwball comedies of the 1930s as it is an indictment of American attitudes about class.

Keywords:   social class, comedy, satire, parody, class stratification

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