Wednesday, March 12, 2014

The Bogdanovich Challenge: Week Ten


The Miracle of Morgan's Creek, released January 5, 1944.

Directed by Preston Sturges.

Starring Eddie Bracken, Betty Hutton, Diana Lynn and William Demarest. 


"Not only are all the performances top-notch but there's that flawless comic rhythm that is uniquely Sturges--his stock company certainly knew his beat--like a conductor with his own orchestra. This was especially important with Sturges, who created all his scripts by improvising them for his secretary to write down."


Writer/director Preston Sturges makes his second appearance on Bogdanovich's list of 52 essential films for the year with The Miracle of Morgan's Creek (1944). Another screwball romantic comedy, this time dealing with a promiscuous party-girl, Trudy (Betty Hutton), who ends up married to The Unknown Soldier. Or, well, close enough. Maybe his name is actually Ratzkiwatzki or something else with a Z in it, she's not really sure. Complicating matters, Trudy quickly discovers that the fun-filled night of dancing, drinking and blacking out also left her fun-filled with child.

So, she does the honorable thing and tries to conceal the truth by convincing a stupid, stuttering bank-teller by the name of Norval Jones (Eddie Bracken) to propose, wed, and claim to be the father-to-be. Norval, madly in love with Trudy, is willing to do whatever it takes to protect her and hopefully win her heart and her hand for real. Naturally, things escalate and matters become even more complicated and comical from there.

The climax involves bank robberies, Sturges' regular William Demarest wrestling a cow, and Adolf Hitler.

I'll admit that I'm amazed at the subject matter that's presented, and for comedic-effect no less, in a film from the mid-Forties. The concept of an expected mother, one who doesn't even know the identity of the true father, as the film's protagonist seems pretty novel for a film from the Golden Age of Cinema. Doubly impressive was Trudy's whip-smart and sarcastic kid sister, Emmy (Diana Lynn), who runs circles around the rest of her family and the rest of the cast.

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