Wednesday, February 2, 2011

THE MIRACLE OF MORGAN'S CREEK (1944)

In the small town of Morgan's Creek, Trudy Kockenlocker goes to a farewell party to a bunch of soldiers. While dancing she hits her head on a disco ball and is knocked silly. The next morning she wakes up at home feeling like Hell, but that's just the beginning of it: she's pregnant and doesn't even know who the father is! Remember this is 1944! All she can remember is she thinks she married some guy named "Ratzkiwatzki" or something like that. Devastated by this news she doesn't know what to do so she devises a plan to quickly marry Norval Jones, who's been in love with her since she was no higher than a fire hydrant, but when she sees how deeply he's in love she can't trick him like that so...well, I've already told you too much, but take my word for is this movie is hilarious. The first time I saw it I literally laughed until I was crying and my sides hurt so bad I thought I was going to puke.

From a filmmaker's standpoint TMOMC is notable for some great long shots, especially Trudy and Norval's walk when she tell him she's pregnant. It's nearly 4 minutes long and physically covers a lot of ground, but the audience probably never notices it because their too busy laughing at Norval's constant screaming. Also notice how those long scenes are only during the first half of the movie, later on as the excitement grows the shots become shorter and shorter, not to mention a lot more people show up until you have some great Sturges crowd scenes where you have five people talking at once and it's all funny.

I love this movie and cannot say enough things about it. Brilliant script and direction by a true Hollywood master and the acting! How did Eddie Bracken not get at least nominated for an Oscar for his role here? He was hilarious. And lets not forget Sturges normal actors...of his 38 frequent actors 22 were here. Most notable was William Demarest as Trudy's gruff father, Constable Edmund Kockenlocker.

I would really like to know if it's even possible for Hollywood to make a movie like this anymore? Made back in 1944 the story talks nonstop about sex and marriage, but yet it's completely clean language-wise and without any gross-out humor. Everything was done so subtly and so full of satire that it somehow got passed the Hays Office! I love crude humor as much as the next person, but I would be thrilled beyond belief if somebody started making clean screwball comedies like this today. Some of the comedies by Howard Hawks, Preston Sturges, Jack Conway, Frank Capra and Leo McCarey were so rich that I can watch them countless times and never get bored.  Highly recommended.

Funny story: In a interview with Eddie Bracken he said that he came up with the idea of Norval walking through the screen door and didn't tell Sturges, he just did it.  Preston was on the camera and started laughing so hard he actually fell out of his seat!