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Hail the Conquering Hero

Overview

It took nerve for writer/director Preston Sturges to lampoon the whole concept of hero worship in the middle of World War II, but once more Sturges' oddball sense of taste and propriety paid off at the box office in Hail the Conquering Hero. Eddie Bracken plays the son of a World War I Marine hero who is the first in his small town to sign up for military service. When Bracken is discharged from the Marines for hay fever, he hasn't the nerve to go home and tell his mother and the rest of the townsfolk. ...
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Overview

It took nerve for writer/director Preston Sturges to lampoon the whole concept of hero worship in the middle of World War II, but once more Sturges' oddball sense of taste and propriety paid off at the box office in Hail the Conquering Hero. Eddie Bracken plays the son of a World War I Marine hero who is the first in his small town to sign up for military service. When Bracken is discharged from the Marines for hay fever, he hasn't the nerve to go home and tell his mother and the rest of the townsfolk. Fortunately, he is befriended by a bunch of good-hearted Marines, led by sergeant William Demarest. Bracken's new buddies decide to help him save face by accompanying him to his home and telling one and all that Bracken has served valiantly in the Pacific. Lauded as a hero thanks to this subterfuge, the hapless Bracken finds himself being coerced into running for mayor! When he finally does confess the truth, the townspeople decide that only a real hero would own up to his lies in public. As always, Preston Sturges' richly varied supporting cast makes the most of every scene they're in, especially Raymond Walburn as a blustering politico and Franklin Pangborn as a persnickety councilman. Special mention must be made of Ella Raines as a refreshingly non-cliched heroine, and ex-boxer Freddie Steele as a morose Marine with a Mother complex. While Eddie Bracken's nerdish mannerisms can wear on the viewer, he is kept marvelously in check throughout Hail the Conquering Hero.
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Editorial Reviews

All Movie Guide - Mark Deming
Writer and director Preston Sturges had a keenly satiric eye for the foibles of the average American, which he rarely used with greater precision than in Hail The Conquering Hero, a superbly funny example of satire that doesn't jab but prods gently. Eddie Bracken never worked with a director more sympathetic to his talents than Sturges, and he gives one of his finest performances as the hapless Marine Corps washout Woodrow Truesmith, and William Demarest is great as an often petulant Marine Corps sergeant who helps goad Woodrow into posing as a war hero; like the other members of Sturges' informal stock company, Demarest didn't often get roles as well-written as he had here, and he rose to the occasion admirably. As was often the case in Sturges' comedies, Hail the Conquering Hero sets up a fairly simple comic premise and then allows it to grow like kudzu; what starts as a well-intentioned white lie by Woodrow turns into a mammoth hoax that gets funnier as it grows larger and more improbable (after all, Woodrow looks as likely to live up to his mother's dreams of becoming a war hero in the Marine Corps as he is to be named Miss America). And while, as in most Sturges movies, things don't work out as Woodrow had planned, they do work out for the best; if he isn't exactly heroic, he's good at heart (as one of the Marines who sets the plan into motion points out, he lives by the slogan "Semper Fidelis" as much as any of them, though his loyalty is to Mom rather than the Corps), and if the citizens of his home town seem easily fooled, they're also willing to forgive. If Hail the Conquering Hero shows that regular folks have an amazing penchant for doing silly and absurd things, it's balanced by their basic decency, a balance that keeps the film's satire admirably good-natured even at its sharpest.
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Product Details

  • Release Date: 5/10/2011
  • UPC: 025192091001
  • Original Release: 1944
  • Rating:

  • Source: Universal Studios
  • Region Code: 1
  • Presentation: Subtitled / Full Frame
  • Time: 1:41:00
  • Format: DVD
  • Sales rank: 51,313

Cast & Crew

Performance Credits
Eddie Bracken Woodrow Lafayette Pershing Truesmith
Ella Raines Libby
William Demarest Sergeant
Bill Edwards Forrest Noble
Raymond Walburn Mr. Noble
Jimmie Dundee Corporal
Freddie Steele Bugsy
Georgia Caine Mrs. Truesmith
Al Bridge Political Boss
James Damore Jonesy
Stephen Gregory Bill
Len Hendry Juke
Esther Howard Mrs. Noble
Jimmy Conlin Judge Dennis
Arthur Hoyt Reverend Upperman
Harry Hayden Doc Bissell
Franklin Pangborn Committee Chairman
Victor Potel Progressive Bandleader
Torben Meyer Mr. Schultz
Jack Norton Regular Bandleader
George Melford Sheriff
Frank Moran Town Painter
Chester Conklin Western Union Man
Merrill Rodin Alfie
Marjean Neville Mamie
Dot Farley Mamie's Mother
Julie Gibson Singer
Miriam Franklin Dancer
Paul Porcasi Cafe Owner
Charles Moore Porter
Dewey Robinson Conductor
Robert Warwick Marine Colonel
George Anderson Bartender
Pauline Drake Telephone Operator
Maxine Fife Colonel's Daughter
Kenneth Gibson Town Councilman
Mildred Harris Marine Colonel's Wife
Philo McCullough Town Councilman
Tom McGuire Town Councilman
John Sinclair American Legion Bandleader
Franklin Farnum Town Councilman
Elizabeth Patterson
Technical Credits
Preston Sturges Director, Producer, Screenwriter
Haldane Douglas Art Director
Hans Dreier Art Director
Stuart Gilmore Editor
Edith Head Costumes/Costume Designer
Werner Richard Heymann Score Composer
Sigmund Krumgold Musical Direction/Supervision
Walter Oberst Sound/Sound Designer
John F. Seitz Cinematographer
Stephen Seymour Set Decoration/Design
Wally Westmore Makeup
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Menu

Disc #1 -- Hail the Conquering Hero
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   Languages
      Spoken Languages: English
      Subtitles: English SDH
      Subtitles: Español
      Subtitles: Français
      Subtitles: Off
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