“He Isn’t Exactly My Brother”: Shakespearean Illogic in 'The Palm Beach Story'
Keywords:Preston Sturges, Stanley Cavell, Twins, Cross-dresssing, Cuckoldry, Hunting, Aristophanes
Although Stanley Cavell disparaged The Palm Beach Story, this article argues that the film epitomizes a Cavellian comedy of remarriage. More than any of the screwball comedies in Cavell’s classic study, The Palm Beach Story borrows its madcap plot twists from Shakespearean comedies. While Preston Sturges pays homage to A Midsummer Night’s Dream, Much Ado About Nothing, Twelfth Night, and The Comedy of Errors, he also exposes the illogic of plots built on interchangeable characters. Both Shakespeare and Sturges rely on impersonation and disguise, but while Shakespeare uses them to unite his men and women in matrimony, Sturges uses them to distinguish between the authentic experience and the performance of love.