The Miracle of Morgan's Creek
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The Miracle of Morgan's Creek (1944) dir. Preston Sturges

In some ways, The Miracle of Morgan's Creek was written by the Hays Code.  Preston Sturges built the convoluted plot around the Code's strictures, and the Code is the butt of most of the jokes.

In a modern version of the story, Betty Hutton gets knocked up while drunk with a bunch of soldiers, and can't remember who the father is.  But the censors would strike that down on several counts.  So, instead, Hutton hits her head on a chandelier and becomes dizzy and suffers memory loss.  Everyone at the dance party is drinking perfectly wholesome 'Victory Lemonade.'  While in this dizzy state, Hutton gets married - and consummates it - with some soldier that shipped off overseas under an assumed name, and can't remember who it was.

So, when Hutton shows up pregnant and hungover in Eddie Bracken's damaged car the next morning, nothing untoward had happened!

The story of a loser who convinces the local beauty to fall for him by just being a swell guy isn't exactly an uncommon story now.  But, Sturges's willingness to break the rules and tweak the audience's expectations a bit is what sets him apart from moderns like Judd Apatow.  Morgan's Creek *isn't* predictable.  Notice that the two leads don't get into a fight over a misunderstanding halfway through the film, for example.

And, as usual, I miss the long takes.  The camera follows the action and frames it without cutting for minutes at a time.  The manic humor builds and builds, and the unrelief of tension is what makes acting like Bracken's in particular work.  Now, Long takes are a novelty, and the overuse of close-ups killed Sturges's sort of humor.

The Miracle of Morgan's Creek is #675 on the Top 1000 Films list I'm working on.  I've now seen 386.