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Hail the Conquering Hero Reviews

The premier comedy writer-director of 1940s Hollywood strikes again! Preston Sturges satirizes home-front American patriotism run amuck during WWII. All the sacred cows of the era--heroic fathers, loving moms, battle fatigue--are milked for laughs in this fastpaced comedy. Sad sack Woodrow Lafayette Pershing Truesmith (Bracken) desperately wants to live up to the reputation of his Marine dad who died a war hero in WWI. Truesmith enlists to carry on the family honor at the outbreak of WWII but he's classified 4-F due to severe chronic hay fever. Ashamed to return home, he takes a job in a shipyard and, with the help of friends in the Marine Corps, sends letters from the Pacific to his mother (Caine) and his sweetheart Libby (Raines). To avoid telling the truth, Bracken breaks up with Libby through the mail. Some genuine Marine heroes returning from Guadalcanal find Truesmith drowning his sorrows in a saloon. Bugsy (Steele), a shell-shocked vet who values motherhood above all else, calls Mrs. Truesmith and tells her that her son has returned from the war. To complete the charade, the crusty Sergeant (Demarest) and the others convince the reluctant wash-out to put on a uniform, slip back home to Oakridge, and make his mother happy. He can then put his uniform in the closet and resume his life of obscurity. Truesmith agrees and takes the train back home with his new Marine friends. To their astonishment, the entire town has turned out with two brass bands to greet the conquering hero. Who else but this brilliant iconoclast would have dared to make this kind of counter-heroic comedy very near the end of World WarII? Supporting the very funny Bracken is a cast composed mostly of Sturges's stock people--Demarest, Pangborn, Walburn and others--all of them outstanding. HAIL THE CONQUERING HERO was nominated for an Oscar for Best Original Screenplay, putting Sturges in competition with himself for the award since he was also nominated for his script for THE MIRACLE OF MORGAN'S CREEK.