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Juan David Restrepo
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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
A great, great movie; one so-well written and with such astonishing momentum I can watch it twice in one sitting or just sample bits and pieces when I wish. Eddie Bracken, who was pretty hard to take in MIRACLE AT MORGAN'S CREEK, is perfect here. Raymond Walburn's performance is sheer genius; the section in which he dictates his speech first to his son and then his son's fiancee is hilarious -- a masterpiece of verbiage, characterization, and timing. Notice also, the subtle directing, such as when the camera pans in perfect time to catch the re-election poster. Beyond praise.
CONQUERING HERO packs an emotional wallop lacking, I think, in Sturges' other movies -- and I mean emotion other than joy and giddiness, of course. Bracken's speeches which frame the film are beautifully written, directed, and performed; the last speech is terribly moving.
Sturges lost his Paramount deal after this film, and never quite regained his footing. That famous clutch of films culminates here in his best film, and all his ingenuity and grace are firmly in place. God bless Preston Sturges.
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