‘There’s a lot to be said for making people laugh. Did you know that that’s all some people have?’ - Sullivan’s Travels
Just ask Joel and Ethan Coen: direct references and a palpable love of Sturges’ acerbic wit, crackling dialogue and rich comedic characters can be traced from the declared tribute O Brother, Where Art Thou? – which takes its title from Sullivan’s Travels – to their 2016 Hollywood golden era farce Hail, Caesar! From his early days as an accomplished writer to his successful transition to directing when he negotiated the first writer-director credit in Hollywood by selling his screenplay for The Great McGinty to Paramount for a tenner (or $1 if you believe him!), Sturges's films endure as comic masterclasses, indeed, four of his seven hits made between 1940 and 1944 – The Lady Eve, Sullivan’s Travels, The Palm Beach Story and The Miracle of Morgan’s Creek – made the Writers’ Guild of America’s 101 Funniest Screenplays poll in 2015. Only Woody Allen had more.