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Hail the Conquering Hero (1944)

Passed | | Comedy, War | September 1944 (USA)
Woodrow is discharged from the military for hay fever, but fabricates receiving a heroic honorable discharge before returning home.

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Nominated for 1 Oscar. Another 4 wins & 2 nominations. See more awards »
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Cast

Complete credited cast:
...
...
...
Mayor Everett J. Noble
...
...
Reception Committee Chairman
...
Aunt Martha
...
Mrs. Truesmith
...
Political Boss
Freddie Steele ...
Bugsy
Bill Edwards ...
Forrest Noble
Harry Hayden ...
Doc Bissell
Jimmy Conlin ...
Judge Dennis
Jimmie Dundee ...
Cpl. Candida
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Storyline

Having been discharged from the Marines for a hayfever condition before ever seeing action, Woodrow Lafayette Pershing Truesmith (Eddie Bracken) delays the return to his hometown, feeling that he is a failure. While in a moment of melancholy, he meets up with a group of Marines who befriend him and encourage him to return home to his mother by fabricating a story that he was wounded in battle with honorable discharge. They make him wear a uniform complete with medals and is pushed by his new friends into accepting a Hero's welcome when he gets home where he is to be immortalized by a statue that he doesn't want, has songs written about his heroic battle stories, and ends up unwillingly running for mayor. Despite his best efforts to explain the truth, no one will listen. Written by J. Adam Ingle

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

Taglines:

MIRACLES DO HAPPEN! (original print ad - all caps)

Genres:

Comedy | War

Certificate:

Passed | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

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Details

Country:

Language:

Release Date:

September 1944 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Herói de Mentira  »

Company Credits

Production Co:

 »
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Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

(Western Electric Mirrophonic Recording)

Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
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Did You Know?

Trivia

One of over 700 Paramount Productions, filmed between 1929 and 1949, which were sold to MCA/Universal in 1958 for television distribution, and have been owned and controlled by Universal ever since. Its initial television broadcasts took place in Seattle 2 February 1959 on KIRO (Channel 7), followed by Chicago Saturday 8 February 1959 on WBBM (Channel 2), by Toledo 1 March 1959 on WTOL (Channel 11), and by Omaha 5 March 1959 on KETV (Channel 7); its newfound popularity soon spread across the country as it first aired in Milwaukee 21 April 1959 on WITI (Channel 6), in New York City 30 May 1959 on WCBS (Channel 2, in Phoenix 25 August 1959 on KVAR (Channel 12), in Grand Rapids 11 September 1959 on WOOD (Channel 8), in Asheville 6 November 1959 on WLOS (Channel 13), in Johnstown 13 November 1959 on WJAC (Channel 6), in St. Louis 23 January 1960 on KMOX (Channel 4), in Minneapolis 9 March 1960 on WTCN (Channel 11), in Los Angeles 19 August 1960 on KNXT (Channel 2), in Philadelphia 15 July 1961 on WCAU (Channel 10), and in San Francisco 20 August 1961 on KPIX (Channel 5). It was released on DVD 21 November 2006 as one of seven titles in Universal's Preston Sturges: The Filmmaker Collection, and as a single 10 May 2011 as part of the Universal Cinema Classics series. Since that time, it's also enjoyed occasional presentations on Turner Classic Movies. See more »

Goofs

Camera shadow on the backs of citizens when Woodrow comes out of the house after being nominated for mayor. See more »

Quotes

Forrest Noble: If he waited a year longer, there might have been three of us to welcome him. If he waited two years, there might have been...
Libby: Oh, shut up.
Forrest Noble: Well, that's what marriage is for isn't it?
Libby: Oh, I suppose so, if you look at it from a purely unromantic standpoint - like a breeding farm.
See more »

Connections

Referenced in The Big Chill (1983) See more »

Soundtracks

Mademoiselle from Armentieres
(uncredited)
(Also Called "Hinky Dinky Parley Voo")
Music traditional
In the score several times
See more »

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User Reviews

 
Let's Give Everett The Air
4 February 2006 | by (United States) – See all my reviews

In a wonderful series of films between 1940 and 1948 Preston Sturgis rewrote the idea of film satire in Hollywood, taking apart political and business sacred cows, and showing a remarkably realistic view of sex in America despite the continued use of the so-called Hays Office and the moral code.

HAIL THE CONQUERING HERO is one of the best of these films. It deals with the issue of heroism and it's political value in wartime. Woodrow Truesmith (Eddie Bracken) is a 4-F who has been working in California in a plant because he could not get drafted. But his family and neighbors expect him to be in the army. His father was a war hero in World War I (he was named Woodrow Lafayette Pershing Truesmith after President Woodrow Wilson, General John Pershing, and the Marquis of Lafayette - supposedly Pershing's staff Major, Charles Stanton, made the statement "Lafayette we are here" when our troops arrived to help the French in 1918 - so that Woodrow was born about 1918). Bracken has lied in letters to his mother that he is a marine and a hero. He tells this to a small group of Marines, led by William Demerest (and including one named Bugsie, played by former boxer Freddie Steele) who decide to accompany him back to his home on their furlough. They go with him, and back up his lies, so that Bracken finds himself the town's leading hero - and a potential piece of political timber.

The town is run by two men, Al Briggs (the quiet but intelligent town boss) and Raymond Walburn, the richest man in town who is the mayor as well: Everett Noble. Walburn is always blustering, but he basically knows what's what. However it is Briggs who asks the right questions. When the reform party nominates Woodrow for Mayor, Briggs asks, "I wonder if he really is a hero?" And he starts making inquiries.

They have an unwitting ally: Woodrow himself. He finds the expansion of his lies too much pressure on him, and he questions it's value. But he can't buck his mother, his girlfriend (Ella Raines), nor Demerest, Steele, and the other Marines. They've learned that Woodrow is the only hope for the town's future because it's currently somewhat shoddy and corrupt in it's goals and actions. They can't let Woodrow confess.

What makes a hero? In HAIL THE CONQUERING HERO, set in the middle of WORLD WAR II, it turns out that heroism is not only found on a military front or battlefield, but can be found on the home front as well. It can take many forms, and sometimes it is at great personal humiliation and hurt. Bracken never had a better role (except for his other starring role for Sturgis in THE MIRACLE OF MORGAN'S CREEK), and demonstrate the growth of his moral stature quite well. Demerest, Walburn, Raines, Briggs all do well (Demerest in an oddly different role - he's a soldier, not a wise guy), and Freddy Steele's "Bugsie" is a wonderful portrait of a slightly mentally ill soldier with a mother fixation. Steele had a a career in movies in the 1940s, mostly in bit roles. This was his best performance.


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