Hail the Conquering Hero

Like other Hollywood directors, Preston Sturges also made movies about small towns during the World War II.

However, compared with most war films set in small towns (Tortilla Flat, 1942; The Human Comedy, 1943; The Fighting Sullivans, 1944; A Medal for Benny, 1945), in their theme, wit, and style, Sturges’s films seem to have been created in another country and another era.

In similar vein to Orson Welles and Hitchcock, both intrigued with exposing the darker and invisible facets of small-towns, Sturges confronted his subject matter in an original mode, turning upside down the established conventions of Hollywood’s portraiture of small-town life. The eccentricity of Sturges’s characters was meant to demonstrate the more multifarious and resourceful nature of small-town folks who only appear” to be plain and ordinary.

Sturges’s comedies, beginning with “Sullivan’s Travel” (1941), reflected the influence of film noir on every genre at the time, including screwball comedies. Along with Billy Wilder, whose directorial career began at the same time, Sturges embodies in his films a cynical view, exposing the downbeat side of “normal” American life. As Allan Silver has observed, Sturges incorporated into his comedies “noirish sentiments of meaninglessness and abject existentialism.”

Flaunting a caustic and crackling dialogue, his comedies portray not winners, but losers, individuals who resort to absurd strategies to survive the day. Sturges’s protagonists refuse to accept “the hand of fate” as a controlling force of their lives, attempting to overcome insurmountable obstacles; that they seldom succeed is beside the point. Moreover, unlike typical noir heroes, his are not weary or beaten by life, always hoping that life would turn out better for them. Sturges’s brilliant style combines sparkling narrative situations with witty dialogue, mixing farce and slapstick with a subtle and sophisticated brand of American comedy.

In Hail the Conquering Hero and The Miracle of Morgan’s Creek (both in 1944), Sturges expresses ambivalent emotions toward basic American values and institutions. Hail centers around an army reject who is accidentally thought to be a war hero, whereas Miracle is a satirical folktale, spoofing just about every sacred mores, including motherhood.

A comparison between Miracle of Morgan’s Creek and Hail the Conquering Hero is in order, not only because they were made in the same year and shot on the same Paramount backlot, but also because they feature Sturges’s great ensemble of character players.

The hero in both films is played by Eddie Bracken, though his role is quite different. In Miracle, Bracken is an orphan living at the periphery of town, but ending at its center by accident, through manipulations of others. In Hail, Woodraw is also fatherless, but he boasts a prestigious lineage. Woodraw was reared in the shadow of his father, Hinky Dinky, a brave Marine who died in action in WWI, and his Congressional Medal of Honor. “I grew up with it,” says the exasperated Woodraw, “They hung it on me.” His grandfather, also in the military, continued to wear his Civil War uniform for the rest of his life.

In Hail, Woodraw is not completely innocent; after all, he initiates the fraud. He is responsible at least in part for the mess in his life. But if Woodraw is initially a small impostor, his fraud gets bigger and bigger, reaching a point where it becomes disproportionate to the original conceit.

The reverend Dr. Upperman states at Church that the mortgage on Woodraw’s mother’s home will be paid by the town. The incumbent mayor (ironically named Everett Noble) and the boss are both corrupt. The judge wishes Woodraw would run for mayor: the town needs someone who’ll help them “transcend their own lives and interests.” He thinks that Woodraw possesses two great assets, honesty and popularity, and that he has a “natural flavor for politics.” Honesty is not sufficient in itself. The other candidate, Doc Bissell, a veterinarian, is an honest man, but nobody would vote for him other than his brother; there are even doubts whether his wife would.

Woodraw tries to explain that his medals were pinned on him by mistake, but no one will listen. Hail the Conquering Hero shows society’s desperate need for heroes, even if they are fake, and that heroes are not expected to substantiate their claim to celebrity. “I been a hero, you could call it that, for twenty five years,” says Sergeant Heffelinger, “and does anybody ask me what I done” If they asked him, he could hardly tell, as he has told it “so different so many times.”

The statue of General Zabriski, which decorates the town’s square, also suffers from obscurity. “All everybody knows is he’s hero,” but no one could identify him or say why he became a hero. The only difference between Zabriski and Heffelinger is that the birds sit on the former’s statue.

The most outrageous character in Hail is Bugsy (Freddie Steele), the marine who “got a little shot.” Obsessed with mothers, he is shocked to hear that Woodraw has not visited home. “That’s a terrible thing to do to your mother,” he says, “you ought to be ashamed of yourself.” Obsession with motherhood prevails from the very first scene, in a San Francisco bar, where a singer sings: “Home to the arms of Mother. Safe from the world’s alarms. As you stood in the gloaming. To welcome me home. Home to the arms of Mother. Never again to roam!”

Touching (too) familiar chords, Woodraw asks for another song, “something gay.” Woodraw is mother-fixated, his behavior motivated by a strong need to please his mom. “I know you meant it for me, no matter what anyone else might think,” says his mother.

And at the end, when Woodraw resolves to leave town, he tells his mother: “If I can find a nice place, I’ll send for you.” Back in town, Woodraw has no time for himself and no privacy. Sturges pits Woodraw, the hapless individual, against the Marines, the bands, the Judge’s delegation, and the town’s crowd.

Sturges’s visual framing is extremely busy, always cramped with many people. Lacking depth or background, they convey the frantic world his narratives are set in. Yet, as James Harvey noted, “no one in a Sturges’s crowd fails to register his special and unique relation to it and to the others.”

It’s not an anonymous, faceless crowd. As a town, Oakridge is more individualized and richly characterized than Morgan’s Creek: It is a close-knit community, with a strong “we” feeling. With all their eccentricities and peculiarities, the characters in Sturges’s film are integrated within larger contexts, as members of social groups, and the interest of such groups is always superior to the individual’s.

For example, the Marines who bring Woodraw back to town are unified in an intimate camaraderie. The warm welcome they receive, particularly from Woodraw’s mother, makes them want to stay in town. They adopt Woodraw, taking care of him; Bugsy, for example, watches Woodraw while he’s asleep. But the Marines are outsiders and, at the end, they have to leave town so that order and equilibrium could be restored. Creating chaos and precipitating a chain of events they themselves could not have foreseen, their departure is necessary. At the last scene, again set at the train station, the whole town waves goodbye to the Marines.

Woodraw is also an outsider, but temporarily so. The town is willing to do anything to embrace him–not only to make him an insider but also to crown him as its leader. When Woodraw tells his former sweetheart Libby (Ella Raines) that he is a phony, she exclaims in disbelief, “You! A phony”

Sturges reverses another convention: In most war films, it’s the girlfriend or wife who are unfaithful, dating others while their men are fighting (Medal for Benny, Best Years of Our Lives). However, in Hail, Woodraw decides to release Libby from commitment to their relationship.

Another strategy Woodraw considers is to start an honest life somewhere else. Standing on a platform at the political rally, Woodraw finally confesses his deception, taking the whole blame on himself. “I stole your admiration,” he says, “I stole the ribbons I wore, I stole the nomination.” Relieved of the burden he has carried, Woodraw feels like a “coward, at last cured of his fear.” But Woodraw’s revelation demonstrates that he is honest, making him a real hero. He is nominated again, this time for his true self. Woodraw thus becomes a local hero in spite of himself.

In both Miracle and Hail, Sturges’s style is hyperbolic and the pace rapid. His camera moves fast, recording people who are always on the move; there are many pratfalls. An example of Sturges’s touch is the hospital sequence in Miracle, with the nurse running in panic in and out of Trudy’s room, bringing a blanket for the first baby, then another blanket, and another….

The hectic speed of Miracle and Hail reflects the notion of life in constant motion, of dynamic reality, even in small towns. In Hail, and to a lesser extent in Miracle, Sturges uses the basic paradigm of balance, followed by disruption and imbalance, and then back to balance. However, Sturges’ small towns never seem to be in total balance or complete equilibrium.

Sturges’s vision of small town life is richer and more complex than Capra’s, stressing inherent tensions, contradictions, and ironies. In Capra’s message-oriented films, appearances are deceiving and one has to dig deeper to reveal the genuine human essences buried underneath (most women in Capra’s films begin as deceivers, but later reveal themselves to be honest). By contrast, in Sturges’s work, appearances have their own reality and logic, and as such, are just as important as the other, presumably “deeper essences.”

Oscar Alert

Hail the Conquering Hero was nominated for Original Screenplay. The winner, however, was Lamar Trotti for the biopic Wilson.

xosotin chelseathông tin chuyển nhượngcâu lạc bộ bóng đá arsenalbóng đá atalantabundesligacầu thủ haalandUEFAevertonxosokeonhacaiketquabongdalichthidau7m.newskqbdtysokeobongdabongdalufutebol ao vivofutemaxmulticanaisonbetbsport.fitonbet88.oooi9bet.bizhi88.ooookvip.atf8bet.atfb88.cashvn88.cashshbet.atbóng đá world cupbóng đá inter milantin juventusbenzemala ligaclb leicester cityMUman citymessi lionelsalahnapolineymarpsgronaldoserie atottenhamvalenciaAS ROMALeverkusenac milanmbappenapolinewcastleaston villaliverpoolfa cupreal madridpremier leagueAjaxbao bong da247EPLbarcelonabournemouthaff cupasean footballbên lề sân cỏbáo bóng đá mớibóng đá cúp thế giớitin bóng đá ViệtUEFAbáo bóng đá việt namHuyền thoại bóng đágiải ngoại hạng anhSeagametap chi bong da the gioitin bong da lutrận đấu hôm nayviệt nam bóng đátin nong bong daBóng đá nữthể thao 7m24h bóng đábóng đá hôm naythe thao ngoai hang anhtin nhanh bóng đáphòng thay đồ bóng đábóng đá phủikèo nhà cái onbetbóng đá lu 2thông tin phòng thay đồthe thao vuaapp đánh lô đềdudoanxosoxổ số giải đặc biệthôm nay xổ sốkèo đẹp hôm nayketquaxosokq xskqxsmnsoi cầu ba miềnsoi cau thong kesxkt hôm naythế giới xổ sốxổ số 24hxo.soxoso3mienxo so ba mienxoso dac bietxosodientoanxổ số dự đoánvé số chiều xổxoso ket quaxosokienthietxoso kq hôm nayxoso ktxổ số megaxổ số mới nhất hôm nayxoso truc tiepxoso ViệtSX3MIENxs dự đoánxs mien bac hom nayxs miên namxsmientrungxsmn thu 7con số may mắn hôm nayKQXS 3 miền Bắc Trung Nam Nhanhdự đoán xổ số 3 miềndò vé sốdu doan xo so hom nayket qua xo xoket qua xo so.vntrúng thưởng xo sokq xoso trực tiếpket qua xskqxs 247số miền nams0x0 mienbacxosobamien hôm naysố đẹp hôm naysố đẹp trực tuyếnnuôi số đẹpxo so hom quaxoso ketquaxstruc tiep hom nayxổ số kiến thiết trực tiếpxổ số kq hôm nayso xo kq trực tuyenkết quả xổ số miền bắc trực tiếpxo so miền namxổ số miền nam trực tiếptrực tiếp xổ số hôm nayket wa xsKQ XOSOxoso onlinexo so truc tiep hom nayxsttso mien bac trong ngàyKQXS3Msố so mien bacdu doan xo so onlinedu doan cau loxổ số kenokqxs vnKQXOSOKQXS hôm naytrực tiếp kết quả xổ số ba miềncap lo dep nhat hom naysoi cầu chuẩn hôm nayso ket qua xo soXem kết quả xổ số nhanh nhấtSX3MIENXSMB chủ nhậtKQXSMNkết quả mở giải trực tuyếnGiờ vàng chốt số OnlineĐánh Đề Con Gìdò số miền namdò vé số hôm nayso mo so debach thủ lô đẹp nhất hôm naycầu đề hôm naykết quả xổ số kiến thiết toàn quốccau dep 88xsmb rong bach kimket qua xs 2023dự đoán xổ số hàng ngàyBạch thủ đề miền BắcSoi Cầu MB thần tàisoi cau vip 247soi cầu tốtsoi cầu miễn phísoi cau mb vipxsmb hom nayxs vietlottxsmn hôm naycầu lô đẹpthống kê lô kép xổ số miền Bắcquay thử xsmnxổ số thần tàiQuay thử XSMTxổ số chiều nayxo so mien nam hom nayweb đánh lô đề trực tuyến uy tínKQXS hôm nayxsmb ngày hôm nayXSMT chủ nhậtxổ số Power 6/55KQXS A trúng roycao thủ chốt sốbảng xổ số đặc biệtsoi cầu 247 vipsoi cầu wap 666Soi cầu miễn phí 888 VIPSoi Cau Chuan MBđộc thủ desố miền bắcthần tài cho sốKết quả xổ số thần tàiXem trực tiếp xổ sốXIN SỐ THẦN TÀI THỔ ĐỊACầu lô số đẹplô đẹp vip 24hsoi cầu miễn phí 888xổ số kiến thiết chiều nayXSMN thứ 7 hàng tuầnKết quả Xổ số Hồ Chí Minhnhà cái xổ số Việt NamXổ Số Đại PhátXổ số mới nhất Hôm Nayso xo mb hom nayxxmb88quay thu mbXo so Minh ChinhXS Minh Ngọc trực tiếp hôm nayXSMN 88XSTDxs than taixổ số UY TIN NHẤTxs vietlott 88SOI CẦU SIÊU CHUẨNSoiCauVietlô đẹp hôm nay vipket qua so xo hom naykqxsmb 30 ngàydự đoán xổ số 3 miềnSoi cầu 3 càng chuẩn xácbạch thủ lônuoi lo chuanbắt lô chuẩn theo ngàykq xo-solô 3 càngnuôi lô đề siêu vipcầu Lô Xiên XSMBđề về bao nhiêuSoi cầu x3xổ số kiến thiết ngày hôm nayquay thử xsmttruc tiep kết quả sxmntrực tiếp miền bắckết quả xổ số chấm vnbảng xs đặc biệt năm 2023soi cau xsmbxổ số hà nội hôm naysxmtxsmt hôm nayxs truc tiep mbketqua xo so onlinekqxs onlinexo số hôm nayXS3MTin xs hôm nayxsmn thu2XSMN hom nayxổ số miền bắc trực tiếp hôm naySO XOxsmbsxmn hôm nay188betlink188 xo sosoi cầu vip 88lô tô việtsoi lô việtXS247xs ba miềnchốt lô đẹp nhất hôm naychốt số xsmbCHƠI LÔ TÔsoi cau mn hom naychốt lô chuẩndu doan sxmtdự đoán xổ số onlinerồng bạch kim chốt 3 càng miễn phí hôm naythống kê lô gan miền bắcdàn đề lôCầu Kèo Đặc Biệtchốt cầu may mắnkết quả xổ số miền bắc hômSoi cầu vàng 777thẻ bài onlinedu doan mn 888soi cầu miền nam vipsoi cầu mt vipdàn de hôm nay7 cao thủ chốt sốsoi cau mien phi 7777 cao thủ chốt số nức tiếng3 càng miền bắcrồng bạch kim 777dàn de bất bạion newsddxsmn188betw88w88789bettf88sin88suvipsunwintf88five8812betsv88vn88Top 10 nhà cái uy tínsky88iwinlucky88nhacaisin88oxbetm88vn88w88789betiwinf8betrio66rio66lucky88oxbetvn88188bet789betMay-88five88one88sin88bk88xbetoxbetMU88188BETSV88RIO66ONBET88188betM88M88SV88Jun-68Jun-88one88iwinv9betw388OXBETw388w388onbetonbetonbetonbet88onbet88onbet88onbet88onbetonbetonbetonbetqh88mu88Nhà cái uy tínpog79vp777vp777vipbetvipbetuk88uk88typhu88typhu88tk88tk88sm66sm66me88me888live8live8livesm66me88win798livesm66me88win79pog79pog79vp777vp777uk88uk88tk88tk88luck8luck8kingbet86kingbet86k188k188hr99hr99123b8xbetvnvipbetsv66zbettaisunwin-vntyphu88vn138vwinvwinvi68ee881xbetrio66zbetvn138i9betvipfi88clubcf68onbet88ee88typhu88onbetonbetkhuyenmai12bet-moblie12betmoblietaimienphi247vi68clupcf68clupvipbeti9betqh88onb123onbefsoi cầunổ hũbắn cáđá gàđá gàgame bàicasinosoi cầuxóc đĩagame bàigiải mã giấc mơbầu cuaslot gamecasinonổ hủdàn đềBắn cácasinodàn đềnổ hũtài xỉuslot gamecasinobắn cáđá gàgame bàithể thaogame bàisoi cầukqsssoi cầucờ tướngbắn cágame bàixóc đĩa开云体育开云体育开云体育乐鱼体育乐鱼体育乐鱼体育亚新体育亚新体育亚新体育爱游戏爱游戏爱游戏华体会华体会华体会IM体育IM体育沙巴体育沙巴体育PM体育PM体育AG尊龙AG尊龙AG尊龙AG百家乐AG百家乐AG百家乐AG真人AG真人<AG真人<皇冠体育皇冠体育PG电子PG电子万博体育万博体育KOK体育KOK体育欧宝体育江南体育江南体育江南体育半岛体育半岛体育半岛体育凯发娱乐凯发娱乐杏彩体育杏彩体育杏彩体育FB体育PM真人PM真人<米乐娱乐米乐娱乐天博体育天博体育开元棋牌开元棋牌j9九游会j9九游会开云体育AG百家乐AG百家乐AG真人AG真人爱游戏华体会华体会im体育kok体育开云体育开云体育开云体育乐鱼体育乐鱼体育欧宝体育ob体育亚博体育亚博体育亚博体育亚博体育亚博体育亚博体育开云体育开云体育棋牌棋牌沙巴体育买球平台新葡京娱乐开云体育mu88qh88