Bil’s rating (out of 5): BBBB.5.
USA, 1944. Paramount Pictures. Screenplay by Preston Sturges. Cinematography by John F. Seitz. Produced by Preston Sturges. Music by Werner R. Heymann. Production Design by Haldane Douglas, Hans Dreier. Costume Design by Edith Head. Film Editing by Stuart Gilmore. Academy Awards 1944.
Eddie Bracken has been avoiding going back to his home town for a year following his medical discharge from the Marine Corps for hay fever. One night at a bar he meets a group of Corps soldiers who feel sympathy for his story and force him to go home in order to soothe the pain of his mother’s bleeding heart. When he arrives he finds that he has been mistakenly labelled a war hero and is given a most magnificent welcome, within days finding the town generously donating to him financially and choosing him as their write-in candidate for the upcoming mayoral election. Preston Sturges, hot on the success of the superbly funny The Miracle Of Morgan’s Creek, includes a lot of the slapstick genius that is so appreciable in his best films, but in this one infuses a lot more moving poignancy than the zany Miracle had. As is always the case in his work, he criticizes American society for its sheep-like community thinking and impractical love of rebellion, but does so in a way that shows him hopelessly in love with everything he is satirizing. Bracken is wonderful, and Sturges mainstay William Demarest pretty much steals every scene he’s in.