I don’t know much about the Coen Brothers to know if they claim Preston Sturges as a major influence on their work, but there seems to be a connection. They seem to be continuing the tradition of Hollywood outsiders making movies their own way, freely mixing comedy, drama, dark twisted moments, and a little romance. After all they made Oh Brother, Where Art Thou?, the movie that never gets made in this film.
I think I’ve only seen one other Sturges film, The Great McGinty, and I noticed social issues seem to be a favorite theme. He pokes fun at the Hollywood machine. There is lots of great dialog, some of which I didn’t appreciate till I saw the clips again in a special feature doc. There are quite a few laughs, but it turns at times to thoughtful drama and a touch of romance. Then it also deals with the darker side of society, the danger of giving charity to the poor too freely, the treatment of chain gang prisoners, and a particularly grisly death for the time when this movie was made. The movie cautions against taking the art and social power of moving pictures too seriously.