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The Miracle Of Morgan’s Creek Review

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When small-town good-time gal Trudy Kockenlocker gets pregnant after a wartime fling with an unknown soldier, her bank clerk boyfriend, Norval Jones, agrees to marry her. However, all manner of ensuing misunderstandings force Norval to flee the law and only the arrival of sextuplets saves the day.

★★★★

Preston Sturges created history in 1945, when his screenplays for both The Miracle of Morgan's Creek and Hail the Conquering Hero earned Oscar nominations. However, what was even more noteworthy was the fact that he slipped two such joyously amoral and anti-heroic comedies past both Hollywood and Washington's moral guardians in wartime.

Sturges had first conceived the idea of a parody of the Virgin Birth in 1937. But he revised it five years later to satisfy the adoring Betty Hutton's desire to star in one of his pictures and his own determination to exact revenge on Paramount producer Buddy DeSylva for interfering in and then delaying The Great Moment. Sturges knew that the Breen Office would object to the sexual aspects of his story and thoroughly expected the War Department Pictorial Board to take exception to his depiction of US soldiers as promiscuous lugs. But, although they took their time in passing the screenplay - causing Sturges to start shooting without a finished script - they made surprisingly few recommendations and seemed genuinely amused by the entire caustic scenario.

Uncertain where his plotline would take him, Sturges worked unusually slowly and overshot both schedule and budget. He wasn't helped by Eddie Bracken's bid to steal every scene he shared with Hutton to pay back the studio for encouraging her to upstage him in the past. But, Sturges eventually coaxed splendid performances out of each, with Bracken coming up with much of his own timidity business and Hutton doing anything required to get a laugh.

Moreover, he was well served, as ever, by the old pros he insisted on casting in minor roles, who looked as though they had wandered in from real life for the duration of their scenes.
The Catholic Legion of Decency presented some eleventh-hour hurdles, but this fizzingly written and superbly directed assault on heartland morality and the very values that America's forces were fighting for was a runaway success. Moreover, its audacious blend of screwball, slapstick, smut and sophistication confirmed Sturges's burgeoning reputation as a bona fide comic genius and it remains scabrously funny 60 years on.

Sturges' no-holds-barred comic cristicism of American Forces abroad is still challenging and funny.

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