Tag: The Palm Beach Story

May 27, 2017 / / Main Slate

One of the earliest and best-written “gold-digger” or “grifter” narratives, Preston Sturges’ 1942 comedy The Palm Beach Story is a fast-paced, entertaining farce with witty dialogue that still captivates audiences, decades after its release. The premise of the film is a provocative one: after several years of marriage, Gerri Jeffers (played by Claudette Colbert) leaves her husband in pursuit of more profitable relationships with men. She openly and unapologetically acknowledges the role that sex and beauty play in social status and access to money, and as such, the plot dances around the notion of prostitution, or at least, of “sex as commerce,” while strictly adhering to the neutered demands of the Production Code. Thus, a film that at first blush appears to be a formulaic screwball comedy is actually quite radical, relying upon (and critiquing) certain norms and notions of gender and economic class in 1940s America.