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The Miracle of Morgan’s Creek(1944)

After skewering the rich and famous in comedies like The Lady Eve and Sullivan’s Travels (both 1941), writer-director Preston Sturges unleashed his rampant wit on small-town America. The result was one of the most pixilated plots in movie history. Trudy Kockenlocker (Betty Hutton) gets conked on the head during a party for departing servicemen. She wakes up with a vague memory of getting married to someone whose name escapes her and then discovers she’s pregnant. Only her devoted suitor (Eddie Bracken) can save her, as he and her family (temperamental father William Demarest and cynical kid sister Diana Lynn) concoct a convoluted and possibly illegal scheme. Sturges starts his comedy at a leisurely pace, with long tracking shots that establish the characters before things get crazy. He then cuts loose with gag upon gag until the audience is laughing too hard to realize how irreverent the story is. The Production Code Administration was bombarded with complaints when the film came out, but the film was Paramount’s top-grosser of the year. Sturges’ script earned an Oscar nomination, while Hutton and Bracken were praised for delivering some of the best performances of their careers. (d. Preston Sturges, 98m, Digital)

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