The Miracle of Morgan's Creek (1943)

Genres - Comedy  |   Sub-Genres - Satire, Comedy of Errors, Screwball Comedy  |   Release Date - Jan 5, 1944 (USA - Unknown)  |   Run Time - 99 min.  |   Countries - United States   |   MPAA Rating - NR
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Review by Mark Deming

In 1944, with the restrictive Hays Code very much in effect, the mere fact that Preston Sturges was allowed to make The Miracle of Morgan's Creek was remarkable in itself. After all, a comedy about a girl who gets drunk at a party with a bunch of soldiers and wakes up the next morning hung over and pregnant, with no memory of who the guilty party might be (except that his name sounded like "Ratzywatzy"), hardly conformed to Hollywood's ideal of womanly virtue. But while the film's audacious content was out of the ordinary in its day, its lasting importance comes from the fact that it's a very, very funny movie. Sturges' superb ear for dialogue is in evidence throughout, as is his knack for bringing out the best in his cast: Betty Hutton gives the best and funniest performance of her career, while Eddie Bracken's work is rivaled only by his turn in Sturges' other 1944 masterpiece, Hail the Conquering Hero. If the premise seemed daring, Sturges gleefully heaped absurdity after absurdity upon it, to the point where even Norval and Trudy are barely able to keep track of their own hare-brained scheme to retain Trudy's good name (as well as that of Mr. Ratzywatzy, wherever he is). While the movie can be accused of playing Trudy's unwed pregnancy for laughs, she certainly seems painfully aware of the gravity of her situation, no matter how funny the circumstances it puts her through. And the scene between Trudy and Norval shortly after she's given birth is sweet and unexpectedly moving, as, after a genial assault on propriety, we're reminded in all sincerity of the simple power of love between two people. In Sturges' best movies, people do ridiculous things but somehow land on their feet; his characters rarely fell farther, or landed with more unexpected aplomb, than in The Miracle of Morgan's Creek.