Cary and Irene (THE AWFUL TRUTH)

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Hail The Conquering Hero is another winner from Preston Sturges

My favorite Preston Sturges of all time is The Miracle Of Morgan's Creek. I have seen it like 20 times. Well last night I watched his other masterpiece from that same year of 1944, Hail The Conquering Hero, for the first time. And it's just as great. Close to matching Morgan's Creek. All so close. It helps that Sturges brought a lot of the same actors from Morgan to Hero. Such as Eddie Bracken, William Demarest and Franklin Pangborn.

Woodrow doesn't know if he can go through with
the charade now as he arrives in his hometown

Bracken stars as Woodrow Truesmith, as a likable fellow who was discharged from the Marines due to chronic hay fever. He struggles on returning to home because he thinks he is a failure. Well while drowning his sorrows at a bar, he meets up with six Marines, led by Sgt. Heppelfinger (the always dependable William Demarest). After hearing of his story they convinced Woodrow to return home as a Marine with stories of heroic battles and such.

Woodrow getting in deep...

The trouble is once the town hears that he is coming home, they stage a big production with a big homecoming rally and parade. And he also gets to see his one true love Libby (the underrated Ella Raines), who is now engaged to the mayor's son. Woodrow had wrote her letters telling her to move on and not wait for him. But once seeing him, Libby falls in love all over again.

Woodrow getting a nice welcome from his girl Libby on his return home

And the townsfolk rally behind Woodrow, electing him to run for mayor. So things snowball really fast and the situations Woodrow get in are truly hilarious.The dialogue is crisp and fast. Reminds me of His Girl Friday quite a lot. The setting of the small town looks great and the whole cast just sparkles. Bracken is fall down funny and even touching towards the end when the truth finally comes out. Demarest is in his usual great form. And Ella Rains is very good as Libby. She says what's her on mind without hesitation. It shocked me when she said ass a few times in the context of the way she said it. And she wears some of the best dresses of this time period of any film I have seen.
Libby in her cute dress, with Woodrow in a quiet moment

Hail The Conquering Hero is close to being a masterpiece. I loved it immediately from the opening credits.

The beautiful Libby

Here are some choice quotes from this hilarious film:

Sgt. Heppelfinger: These flapjacks might taste better with a little butter on 'em Mrs. T.

         Mrs. Truesmith: Maybe you haven't heard Sgt. but there's a war on.
Sgt. Heppelfinger: I tell you it'll all blow over. Everything is perfect - except for a couple of details.

Woodrow Lafayette Pershing Truesmith: They hang people for a couple of details!
Libby's Aunt: [comforting Libby, who's crying about Woodrow's return] Well, that's the war for you. It's always hard on women. Either they take your men away and never send them back at all; or they send them back unexpectedly just to embarrass you. No consideration at all.
Libby: [mad at Mayor Noble for criticizing Woodrow] That ass of a father of yours! Going around talking about people he doesn't know anything about.

Forrest Noble: You're still talking about your children's grandfather.

Libby: What are you trying to do? Depress me? If I thought they'd look anything like him...

Forrest Noble: Well, I don't look anything like him.

Libby: I've noticed that. I've pinned my hopes on it

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