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Preston Sturges - The Filmmaker Collection

The Great McGinty
(1940)      Christmas in July (1940)


NOTE: The Great McGinty is compared on Blu-ray HERE


NOTE: Christmas in July is compared on Blu-ray HERE

The Lady Eve
(1941)      Sullivan's Travels (1941)      The Palm Beach Story (1942)


NOTE: Sullivan's Travels is compared on Blu-ray HERE


NOTE: The Palm Beach Story is compared on Blu-ray HERE

The Great Moment (1944)       Hail the Conquering Hero (1944)


NOTE: The Great Moment is compared on Blu-ray HERE






The Great McGinty
Stars Brian Donlevy, Muriel Angelus, Akim Tamiroff, Allyn Joslyn, William Demarest
Directors: Preston Sturges
Theatrical Release Date: August 23, 1940
Synopsis - Told in flashback, Depression-era bum Dan McGinty is recruited by the city's political machine to help with vote fraud. His great aptitude for this brings rapid promotion from "the boss," who finally decides he'd be ideal as a new, nominally "reform" mayor; but this candidacy requires marriage. His in-name-only marriage to honest Catherine proves the beginning of the end for dishonest Dan...

Christmas in July
Stars Dick Powell, Ellen Drew, Raymond Walburn, Alexander Carr, William Demarest
Directors: Preston Sturges
Theatrical Release Date: October 18, 1940
Synopsis - An office clerk loves entering contests in the hopes of someday winning a fortune and marrying the girl he loves. His latest attempt is the Maxford House Coffee Slogan Contest. As a joke, some of his co-workers put together a fake telegram which says that he won the $25,000 grand prize. As a result, he gets a promotion, buys presents for all of his family and friends, and proposes to his girl. When the truth comes out, he's not prepared for the consequences.

The Lady Eve
Stars Barbara Stanwyck, Henry Fonda, Charles Coburn, Eugene Pallette, William Demarest
Directors: Preston Sturges
Theatrical Release Date: February 25, 1941
Synopsis - Returning from a year up the Amazon studying snakes, the rich but unsophisticated Charles Pike meets con-artist Jean Harrington on a ship. They fall in love, but a misunderstanding causes them to split on bad terms. To get back at him, Jean disguises herself as an English lady, and comes back to tease and torment him.

Sullivan's Travels
Stars Joel McCrea, Veronica Lake, Robert Warwick, William Demarest, Franklin Pangborn
Directors: Preston Sturges
Theatrical Release Date: December 1941
Synopsis - Sullivan is a successful, spoiled, and naive director of fluff films, with a heart-o-gold, who decides he wants to make a film about the troubles of the downtrodden poor. Much to the chagrin of his producers, he sets off in tramp's clothing with a single dime in his pocket to experience poverty first-hand, and gets some reality shock.

The Palm Beach Story
Stars Claudette Colbert, Joel McCrea, Mary Astor, Rudy Vallee, Sig Arno
Directors: Preston Sturges
Theatrical Release Date: November 7, 1942
Synopsis - Gerry and Tom Jeffers are finding married life hard. Tom is an inventor/ architect and there is little money for them to live on. They are about to be thrown out of their apartment when Gerry meets rich businessman being shown around as a prospective tenant. He gives Gerry $700 to start life afresh but Tom refuses to believe her story and they quarrel. Gerry decides the marriage is over and heads to Palm Beach for a quick divorce but Tom has plans to stop her.

The Great Moment
Stars Joel McCrea, Betty Field, Harry Carey, William Demarest, Louis Jean Heydt
Directors: Preston Sturges
Theatrical Release Date: September 6, 1944
Synopsis - In the winter of 1868, Eben Frost (William Demarest) goes to a Boston pawnshop and redeems a silver medal, inscribed to "Dr. W.T.G. Morton, the Benefactor of Mankind, with the Gratitude of Humanity." Frost drives to a country farmhouse and gives the medal to Morton's widow, Elizabeth Morton (Betty Field) who explains to her daughter, Betty (Donivee Lee), that Frost was the first person given anesthesia by her father, Boston dentist Dr. W.T.G. Morton (Joel McCrea.) The story flashes back 20 years to find Morton being wildly acclaimed by medical students as the man whose discovery of "letheon" had forever ended pain as, before that day, even amputations were performed with the patient fully conscious. "Letheron", unknown to everybody but Morton and Elizabeth, is simply highly rectified sulphuric ether - cleaning fluid - easily obtainable at a pharmacy. By keeping the secret, Dr. Morton could be rich, but he had rather be poor than see a girl strapped to an operating table under the knife of Dr. Warren (Harry Carey), and he reveals his secret to a group of surgeons in the hospital operating theatre. With his secret out, and all hope of personal reward gone, with the possible exception of proceeds from his glass inhaler, he gets the news that Congress has voted him a reward of $100,000, and also learns that the patent on his inhaler has been infringed. President Pierce, under pressure from newspapers inflamed by jealous medical rivals of Morton, refuses to sign the bill until Morton has proven patient infringement.

Hail the Conquering Hero
Stars Eddie Bracken, Ella Raines, Raymond Walburn, William Demarest, Franklin Pangborn
Directors: Preston Sturges
Theatrical Release Date: August 9, 1944
Synopsis - Having been discharged from the Marines for a hayfever condition before ever seeing action, Woodrow Lafayette Pershing Truesmith (Eddie Bracken) delays the return to his hometown, feeling that he is a failure. While in a moment of melancholy, he meets up with a group of Marines who befriend him and encourage him to return home to his mother by fabricating a story that he was wounded in battle with honorable discharge. They make him wear a uniform complete with medals and is pushed by his new friends into accepting a Hero's welcome when he gets home where he is to be immortalized by a statue that he doesn't want, has songs written about his heroic battle stories, and ends up unwillingly running for mayor. Despite his best efforts to explain the truth, no one will listen. 


Theatrical Releases: 1940- 1944

 DVD Reviews

DVD Review: Universal (7-disc) - Region 1 - NTSC

DVD Box Cover


CLICK to order from:

Distribution Universal Home Video - Region 1 - NTSC
Runtime 1:21:51 + 1:07:20 + 1:34:03 + 1:30:39 + 1:27:51 + 1:20:51 + 1:40:54
Video Original Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1
Average Bitrate: 6.86  8.27 5.87 6.16  6.41 6.93 5.48 mb/s
NTSC 720x480 29.97 f/s 

NOTE: The Vertical axis represents the bits transferred per second. The Horizontal is the time in minutes.

Bit: The Great McGinty
Bit: Christmas in July
Bit: The Lady Eve
Bit: Sullivan's Travels
Bit: The Palm Beach Story
Bit: The Great Moment
Bit: Hail The Conquering Hero
Audio English (original) 
Subtitles English, French, Spanish, None
Features Release Information:
Studio: Universal Pictures

Aspect Ratio:
Original aspect Ratio: 1.33:1

Edition Details:

• Theatrical Trailers for all except Hail the Conquering Hero

DVD Release Date: November  21st, 2006
(see image at top and below)

Chapters: various


Package (both sides of foldout case)





Universal's Boxset is as lean and competent as you might have anticipated - we get 7 films (over 7 single-layered DVDs) progressively transferred for region 1 in the NTSC standard. The only extras are theatrical trailers included on the respective discs for all 7 films except hail the Conquering Hero. There are optional English (HoH), French or Spanish subtitles. Chapter stops are authored but there are no menu screens to indicate them. Audio is original mono but clear and consistent throughout all 7 films.

The image quality - all DVDs have some digital noise and minor speckles but are certainly watchable in their present condition. I have compared a few frames to the existing Criterion DVDs with the Universal counterparts getting a passing grade - The Lady Eve (Criterion fully review HERE) shows more noise but the Criterion image may be unduly softened and choosing random frames we can see the Criterion shows some 'combing' - most likely as a function of the alchemist transfer process. The Criterion transfer of Sullivan's Travels (Criterion fully review HERE) has removed more of the light damage marks and it does actually look superior, although the Universal is not monumentally behind. As we expected the original release of The Palm Beach Story (reviewed HERE) is the exact same transfer as the one contained in the new package - but a trailer has been added in the supplement department.

All the films, aside from possibly The Great Moment, are very strong, memorable classics of the silver screen - truly some of the best cinema brought out  in the entire decade of the 1940's. The reasonableness of the price makes this a must own even of you already own the existing NTSC editions. It's great to have these as part of my library. 

Gary W. Tooze

DVD Menus



Subtitle Sample





Screen Captures


The Great McGinty




Christmas in July








The Lady Eve


(Universal Region 1- NTSC - TOP vs. Criterion - Region 0 - NTSC - BOTTOM)




(Universal Region 1- NTSC - TOP vs. Criterion - Region 0 - NTSC - BOTTOM)



Sullivan's Travels
(Universal Region 1- NTSC - TOP vs. Criterion - Region 0 - NTSC - BOTTOM)


(Universal Region 1- NTSC - TOP vs. Criterion - Region 0 - NTSC - BOTTOM)



The Palm Beach Story


(Universal Region 1- NTSC - TOP vs. Universal (individual) - Region 1 - NTSC - BOTTOM)






The Great Moment




Hail The Conquering Hero







DVD Box Cover


CLICK to order from:

Distribution Universal Home Video - Region 1 - NTSC



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Gary Tooze

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