Hail the Conquering Hero
August 17, 2012
Directed by Preston Sturges. With Eddie Bracken, Ella Raines,
US 1944, 35mm, b/w, 101 min
Preston Sturges made nearly all of his best films at Paramount, first as a screenwriter, then as a writer-director. His was an ambitious comic talent that sought ever more trenchant satiric targets. Thus it was that at the height of World War II, he filmed two screenplays tackling homefront attitudes towards the war effort, The Miracle of Morgan’s Creek and Hail the Conquering Hero. The latter of these illustrates the disjuncture between the civilian idealization of returning troops and their actual experience by depicting the plight of a young man rejected by the army only to find upon his return that his entire hometown believes him to be a war hero. Although the film ultimately pulls some of its punches, the underlying caustic intent remains unmistakable, as does Sturges’ skill at creating unforgettably idiosyncratic character roles and colorful dialogue.