Hail the Conquering Hero (1944)

101 mins | Comedy-drama | 9 August 1944

Director:

Preston Sturges

Writer:

Preston Sturges

Producer:

Preston Sturges

Cinematographer:

John F. Seitz

Editor:

Stuart Gilmore

Production Designers:

Hans Dreier, Haldane Douglas

Production Company:

Paramount Pictures, Inc.
Full page view
HISTORY

Preston Sturges' onscreen credit reads: "Written and directed by Preston Sturges." The working titles of this film were Once Upon a Hero and The Little Marine . According to information in the Paramount Collection at the AMPAS Library, an early, tentative title for the production was Praise the Lord and Pass the Ammunition . (Although The Human Strongbox was announced first in 1943 as a Preston Sturges-directed Eddie Bracken picture for Paramount, it bears no relation to this film, and was later announced as a title for a 1946 Harold Lloyd picture that was never made.) Modern sources and Preston Sturges' autobiography note that at the time he made Hail the Conquering Hero , Sturges was embroiled in a conflict with Paramount. Paramount executives wanted to replace actress Ella Raines in the film, but Sturges refused to comply as shooting had already begun. Due to additional conflicts with Paramount, including editorial control and censorship problems with his previous two pictures, The Miracle of Morgan's Creek and The Great Moment , Sturges left the studio upon completion of this film. (Although The Miracle of Morgan's Creek and The Great Moment were produced before Hail the Conquering Hero , they were released after it.) According to modern sources, as Sturges had already left the studio, producer B. G. DeSylva had this film re-cut without him after an unsuccessful preview in New York. However, after yet another unsuccessful preview, Sturges returned and rewrote and reshot the ending in Apr 1944.
       This film marks ex-boxer Freddie Steele and Stephen Gregory's feature film debuts. Sturges was nominated ... More Less

Preston Sturges' onscreen credit reads: "Written and directed by Preston Sturges." The working titles of this film were Once Upon a Hero and The Little Marine . According to information in the Paramount Collection at the AMPAS Library, an early, tentative title for the production was Praise the Lord and Pass the Ammunition . (Although The Human Strongbox was announced first in 1943 as a Preston Sturges-directed Eddie Bracken picture for Paramount, it bears no relation to this film, and was later announced as a title for a 1946 Harold Lloyd picture that was never made.) Modern sources and Preston Sturges' autobiography note that at the time he made Hail the Conquering Hero , Sturges was embroiled in a conflict with Paramount. Paramount executives wanted to replace actress Ella Raines in the film, but Sturges refused to comply as shooting had already begun. Due to additional conflicts with Paramount, including editorial control and censorship problems with his previous two pictures, The Miracle of Morgan's Creek and The Great Moment , Sturges left the studio upon completion of this film. (Although The Miracle of Morgan's Creek and The Great Moment were produced before Hail the Conquering Hero , they were released after it.) According to modern sources, as Sturges had already left the studio, producer B. G. DeSylva had this film re-cut without him after an unsuccessful preview in New York. However, after yet another unsuccessful preview, Sturges returned and rewrote and reshot the ending in Apr 1944.
       This film marks ex-boxer Freddie Steele and Stephen Gregory's feature film debuts. Sturges was nominated for two Academy Awards in 1944 for Best Original Screenplay for this film, and for The Miracle of Morgan's Creek . Many modern critics consider Hail the Conquering Hero as Sturges' best film. More Less

SOURCE CITATIONS
SOURCE
DATE
PAGE
Box Office
17 Jun 1944.
---
Daily Variety
8 Jun 44
p. 3.
Film Daily
7 Jun 44
p. 9.
Hollywood Reporter
4 Jun 43
p. 4.
Hollywood Reporter
10 Jun 43
p. 1.
Hollywood Reporter
8 Jul 43
p. 2
Hollywood Reporter
26 Jul 43
p. 9.
Hollywood Reporter
3 Apr 44
p. 6.
Hollywood Reporter
6 Apr 44
p. 4.
Hollywood Reporter
8 Jun 44
p. 3.
Hollywood Reporter
25 Jul 44
p. 1.
Hollywood Reporter
14 Aug 44
p. 8.
Motion Picture Herald Product Digest
1 Jan 44
p. 1696.
Motion Picture Herald Product Digest
10 Jun 44
p. 1933.
New York Times
10 Aug 44
p. 14.
New York Times
13 Aug 44
p. 1 (sec 2).
Variety
7 Jun 44
p. 19.
CAST
PRODUCTION CREDITS
NAME
PARENT COMPANY
PRODUCTION COMPANY
DISTRIBUTION COMPANY
NAME
CREDITED AS
CREDIT
DIRECTORS
Asst dir
2d asst dir
2d asst dir, retakes
PRODUCERS
Exec prod
Asst to prod
WRITER
PHOTOGRAPHY
Dir of photog
2d cam
Asst cam
Gaffer
Gaffer
Stills
Cam, retakes
2d cam, retakes
Asst cam, retakes
Stills, retakes
ART DIRECTORS
Art dir
Art dir
Art dir, retakes
FILM EDITOR
SET DECORATORS
Set dec
Asst set dresser
Asst set dresser
Props
Props
COSTUMES
Cost
Ward
Ward
MUSIC
Mus score
MAKEUP
Makeup artist
Makeup
PRODUCTION MISC
Tech adv
Bus mgr
Asst bus mgr
Casting
Scr clerk
Elec
SOURCES
SONGS
"Have I Stayed Away Too Long" and "Gotta Go to Jailhouse," music and lyrics by Frank Loesser and Robert Emmett Dolan
"Home to the Arms of Mother," music and lyrics by Preston Sturges, orchestral arrangement by Charles W. Bradshaw, vocal arrangements by Joseph J. Lilley
"We Want Woodrow," music and lyrics by Preston Sturges, arranged by Charles W. Bradshaw.
DETAILS
Alternate Titles:
Once Upon a Hero
Praise the Lord and Pass the Ammunition
The Little Marine
Release Date:
9 August 1944
Production Date:
14 July--11 September 1943
added scenes and retakes 7 April--11 April 1944
Copyright Claimant:
Paramount Pictures, Inc.
Copyright Date:
5 June 1944
Copyright Number:
LP12808
Physical Properties:
Sound
Western Electric Mirrophonic Recording
Black and White
Duration(in mins):
101
Length(in feet):
9,050
Length(in reels):
11
Country:
United States
PCA No:
9509
Passed by NBR:
Yes
SYNOPSIS

Woodrow LaFayette Pershing Truesmith sits disconsolately at a bar with his beer. When six Marines, led by Sgt. Julius Heffelfinger, come in, Woodrow buys them all beer because they are short on cash, and the grateful Marines, recently returned from the battle at Guadalcanal, introduce themselves. The soldiers learn that Woodrow's father, also a Marine, died a hero in World War I on the same day that Woodrow was born, and that Woodrow's lifelong dream is to follow in his father's footsteps. Humiliated by his dismissal due to chronic hayfever which occurred over a year before, Woodrow reveals that he wrote to his mother that he was sent overseas, and has not been home since. "Sarge" recalls that Woodrow's father was his own sergeant during World War I, and that he was present the day Truesmith died on the battlefield. Bugsy Walewski, a tough but compassionate Marine who believes that mothers are sacred, is appalled that Woodrow would allow his mother to think that he is in combat, and immediately telephones Woodrow's mother in Oakridge, California. Bugsy impersonates an officer and informs her that Woodrow is a hero and is returning home from Guadalcanal. Led by Sarge, the Marines then escort Woodrow to a train headed for California, and force him to wear his uniform, even though he believes it is against regulations. They then insist on giving him several of their own medals, believing that he will be able to slip quietly into town, impress his mother, and then discard the uniform. Woodrow is mortified when the entire town and four marching bands greet him at the Oakridge train station, and the mayor gives ... +


Woodrow LaFayette Pershing Truesmith sits disconsolately at a bar with his beer. When six Marines, led by Sgt. Julius Heffelfinger, come in, Woodrow buys them all beer because they are short on cash, and the grateful Marines, recently returned from the battle at Guadalcanal, introduce themselves. The soldiers learn that Woodrow's father, also a Marine, died a hero in World War I on the same day that Woodrow was born, and that Woodrow's lifelong dream is to follow in his father's footsteps. Humiliated by his dismissal due to chronic hayfever which occurred over a year before, Woodrow reveals that he wrote to his mother that he was sent overseas, and has not been home since. "Sarge" recalls that Woodrow's father was his own sergeant during World War I, and that he was present the day Truesmith died on the battlefield. Bugsy Walewski, a tough but compassionate Marine who believes that mothers are sacred, is appalled that Woodrow would allow his mother to think that he is in combat, and immediately telephones Woodrow's mother in Oakridge, California. Bugsy impersonates an officer and informs her that Woodrow is a hero and is returning home from Guadalcanal. Led by Sarge, the Marines then escort Woodrow to a train headed for California, and force him to wear his uniform, even though he believes it is against regulations. They then insist on giving him several of their own medals, believing that he will be able to slip quietly into town, impress his mother, and then discard the uniform. Woodrow is mortified when the entire town and four marching bands greet him at the Oakridge train station, and the mayor gives him the key to the city. Woodrow immediately regrets his deception, but the Marines continue to hail him as a hero. Woodrow's former girl friend Libby, whom he had written and told not to wait for him, is now engaged to Forrest Noble, scion of the wealthiest family in town, but is waiting for an appropriate time to tell Woodrow the news. That night, the town's elder citizens, led by Judge Dennis and mayoral candidate Doc Bissell, nominate a stunned Woodrow for mayor. Without actually revealing his deception, Woodrow proclaims his unworthiness, but the supportive crowd that has gathered outside his house thinks that he is only being humble. Forrest's father, a mayoral candidate himself, fires Libby as his secretary after she defends Woodrow in the face of his own character defamation. As Woodrow's campaign supporters celebrate with fervor, Woodrow drinks cooking wine and contemplates his ruin. Libby finally confesses her impending marriage to Forrest, and Woodrow calmly accepts the news as he fears she might be hurt when the truth about him comes out. Woodrow insists he is a phony, but Libby is brokenhearted that he will not fight for her. Noble's political boss, meanwhile, becomes suspicious of Woodrow and cables the Marines for verification of his status. The next morning, in order to avoid the campaign, Woodrow pretends that he has been called back into active service. Bugsy sees through his ruse and loses respect for Woodrow. Woodrow participates in the campaign parade that leads him to the town hall, where Noble and his boss are eager to spread the news of Woodrow's medical discharge. Woodrow unexpectedly confesses to the fraud in an eloquent speech, however, and Bugsy's faith in him is restored. Woodrow then returns home to pack, and Libby, realizing that Woodrow is truly courageous because of his ability to face the truth, breaks off her engagement with Forrest and insists on joining Woodrow in his travels. While they are waiting at the train station, a mob led by Sarge approaches. Afraid of a lynching, the Marines protect Woodrow, but Judge Dennis and Doc Bissell announce that after careful consideration, they still want Woodrow to run for mayor because of his courage and veracity. Noble faints when he hears the news, and after accepting the nomination, Woodrow bids farewell to his devoted Marine friends. +

Legend
Viewed by AFI
Partially Viewed
Offscreen Credit
Name Occurs Before Title
AFI Life Achievement Award

TOP SEARCHES

CASABLANCA

During World War II, Casablanca, Morocco is a waiting point for throngs of desperate refugees fleeing Nazi-occupied Europe. Exit visas, which are necessary to leave the country, are at ... >>

CITIZEN KANE

Seventy-year-old newspaper tycoon Charles Foster Kane dies in his palatial Florida home, Xanadu, after uttering the single word “Rosebud.” While watching a newsreel summarizing the years during which Kane ... >>

REAR WINDOW

Laid up with a broken leg during the height of summer, renowned New York magazine photographer L. B. “Jeff” Jeffries enters his last week of home confinement, bored and ... >>

RAGING BULL

In 1941, at a boxing match in Cleveland, Ohio, pandemonium breaks out when Jake La Motta, an up-and-coming young boxer, loses a decision to Jimmy Reeves, suffering his first ... >>

CITY LIGHTS

At an outdoor dedication ceremony, a tramp is discovered sleeping in the arms of a statue as it is being unveiled before a crowd. He is chased into ... >>

The American Film Institute is grateful to Sir Paul Getty KBE and the Sir Paul Getty KBE Estate for their dedication to the art of the moving image and their support for the AFI Catalog of Feature Films and without whose support AFI would not have been able to achieve this historical landmark in this epic scholarly endeavor.