The Miracle of Morgan’s Creek (Preston Sturges, 1944)
Of all the comedies from writer-director Preston Sturges, The Miracle of Morgan’s Creek might be one of the most appreciated. Maybe for its irreverent satire or the sheer fun this movie is all about. But the thing that hooked me was figuring how the censors of the Hays Code were waking up pregnant one morning never knew what happened to them just like its lead character Trudy (Betty Hutton). They did not knew what happened but they sure let one big rock fall into the middle of the creek.
Morgan’s Creek is a small town, or anytown USA if you prefer, and at the eve of the departure of some soldiers, young ladies of the town get in touch with them to party and gave them a farewell that will help remember the joys of their country while they are at the front. Trudy Kockenlocker is one of them and the morning after she can’t remember what happened. But she knows she married a soldier and then got her pregnant the same night. The young Norval Jones (Eddie Bracken) has always been in love with Trudy, he is such a goodie good guy that he‘ll try to get married with Trudy so she won’t have to face the fury of her father and all the frowns upon.
It is one of the most well written comedies of all time and the dialogues are hilarious while the subject matter could easily have been treated heavier. Back in 1944, the subject of sex was almost forbidden on films. And the way that Sturges managed to circle around the fact that Trudy has had a one night stand, got drunk, and is « married » and pregnant is amazing. It is very bold to have made this film. Its studio, Paramount, wasn’t afraid to let his most profitable director take almost anyway he wanted with his plot. Even if he cleaned most of the dirtiest parts, it is such an UFO of a film for 1944. Where Hollywood was clean and sexless, Sturges put a young lady that probably did what a lot of young women of her time did but never said. It is a fairytale to think that people used to be virgins before they were married back then.
Preston Sturges’ film is now recognized as one of the greatest comedies of all time and often tops the lists of his own films. But for me, Sullivan’s Travels is even more powerful in the way that it is a reflexion about filmmaking and the purpose of comedies. It is indeed a deeper comedy but not as fun as The Miracle of Morgan’s Creek. This movie existing in itself is, in fact, a miracle.