During World War II, Hollywood's patriotic duty was to shoot stirring dramas and good-hearted comedies that celebrated America's brave soldiers and honored their loyal, virtuous wives and girlfriends. Which goes a long way toward explaining why this delirious Preston Sturges farce, filmed in 1943 at the height of the war effort (and of its director's powers), was delayed for a year while Paramount executives wrestled with Sturges's irreverence: in Morgan's Creek
, the writer-director tweaked those stereotypes with his tale of Trudy Kockenlocker, a small-town girl who only wants to send our boys off with a smile. That she does, but she wakes up after an all-night party with vague memories of a dubious wedding and soon finds herself pregnant.
Trudy, played by the ebullient Betty Hutton, is wholesome, sexy, and something of a ditz, in contrast to Sturges's usual savvy heroines (represented instead by Trudy's teenaged younger sister, played by Diana Lynn). Trudy's savior is would-be boyfriend Norval, played to apoplectic perfection by the rubber-faced Eddie Bracken, who was never better than in this wide-eyed, pratfall-happy performance as the weary but loyal draft reject who stands by his girl. As Trudy's father, Sturges regular William Demarest likewise achieves a series of comic peaks as the exasperated and increasingly desperate Officer Kockenlocker.
Like Sturges's other Bracken-Demarest vehicle, the equally fine Hail, the Conquering Hero, The Miracle of Morgan's Creek was unique among wartime movies for its satirical sting and unblinking eye for hypocrisy on the home front. It's also enormous fun, a comedic romp that epitomizes Sturges's kinetic, high-speed style. --Sam Sutherland