Raymond Walburn

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Hail The Conquering Hero Review


Good
There's not a great deal of subtlety to Preston Sturges' genial 1944 comedy Hail the Conquering Hero, but when one is dealing with a political satire about a soldier returning home during wartime -- in a film shot and released during a world war when the movie business was heavily pressured toward the patriotic -- one should just be happy that such a non-formulaic film was made at all.

The guileless Eddie Bracken plays a returning soldier with the overbearingly heroic name of Woodrow Lafayette Pershing Truesmith, the legacy of a Marine father who died during World War I. The film's opening finds Truesmith drowning his sorrows in a gin joint, not looking forward to going home and letting his mother (who keeps a veritable shrine to her dead heroic husband) find out that contrary to all his invented stories of valor, he never served at all, and in fact was discharged from the army due to a hilariously bad case of hay fever. He hooks up with a passel of Marines (Guadalcanal vets), who, in the true nature of this period's films, all seem to hail from the same Brooklyn neighborhood. Having already lost all their money at the start of a multi-day furlough, and seeing in fellow Marine Truesmith a good-hearted sucker with a deep and guilty wallet, they all pile onto the train home with him, all the better to give the kid a proper homecoming.

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Christmas In July Review


Extraordinary
Tragically underseen, this Preston Sturges comedy is all of 68 minutes long (including the credits) and is a freakin' laugh riot from start to finish. The story: Dick Powell's hapless Jimmy MacDonald dreams of getting rich quick by winning corporate-sponsored contests like "count how many peanuts there are in the window display." A perennial loser, he is stunned when he wins a slogan competition for a rival coffee company. Immediately, his boss (also a coffee magnate) promotes him, ashamed he hasn't been listening to his obviously great ideas, and Jimmy takes his best gal (Ellen Drew) on a shopping spree. Only it turns out that the telegram announcing Jimmy's win is a hoax. Imagine the mortification... and there's more to follow.

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Hail The Conquering Hero Review


Excellent
Preston Sturges' blatant allegory about a man (Bracken) who returns from WWII boot camp after a hay fever attack but inadvertently passes himself off as a war hero and ends up in a race for his local mayoral seat is as apt as any political movie ever made. Too bad Sturges uses the one-note "mistaken identity" joke a bit too much, making the whole production a bit too obvious. But overall this 1944 comedy is vintage screwball with a touch of sophistication. Bracken is great, but Ella Raines as the girl he left behind steals the show.
Raymond Walburn

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Hail the Conquering Hero Movie Review

Hail the Conquering Hero Movie Review

There's not a great deal of subtlety to Preston Sturges' genial 1944 comedy Hail the...

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