Image copyright © by Marcus Trahan

Hail the Conquering Hero


In 1944 everybody was making patriotic movies, so why shouldn’t Preston Sturges? But being who he was, he made a movie a little different than the gung-ho battle epics starring draft-dodgers like John Wayne. Eddie Bracken plays a guy whose father was a Marine hero, and all he’s ever wanted to be was a Marine. But he’s got chronic hay fever and is given a medical discharge. A group of real Marines takes pity on him, dresses him in a uniform, and more or less force him to return home, where he’s given a hero’s welcome. Soon the town has him running for mayor. He never wanted any of this, and he missed his chance to nip it all in the bud … so the question becomes, as in all these comedy of errors stories, how long can it go on, and how can he get out of it and still give us a happy ending? The answer is maybe not as satisfying as in other Sturges movies—it’s reminiscent of some of Frank Capra’s more far-fetched endings … but heck, I like Capra, too.