The Real Miracle of Morgan's Creek

The Real Miracle of Morgan's Creek
In The Miracle of Morgan’s Creek, Preston Sturges offers lots of laughs and one true miracle.

The folks in Morgan’s Creek, even those most pure intentioned, try to solve their problems by means which are not only complicated, but often down-right ridiculous. As they face ultimate disaster, the characters will zig when we know they should zag. In the process, we laugh at their foibles and embrace their misguided schemes.

Listen closely, because some of the funniest lines are thrown away or mumbled as asides. There is also plenty of the Sturges brand of broad physical comedy. The film has its share of pratfalls, over-the-top reactions, and larger-than-life performances.

Not just slapstick. Slapstick at its best.

While the film is perfectly timed and comedically well-tuned, the real miracle is how it approaches its “taboo” subject matter.

Released in 1943, the film addresses the issue of unwed motherhood – a topic that was considered scandalous and inappropriate for general audiences at the time. It was certainly not a popular subject for a comedy. The miracle is that the subject matter is handled so skillfully, that the audience understands the situation without it being discussed outright by the characters.

Sturges brilliantly finesses the audience into filling in the censorable gaps.

The story is simple enough. Trudy Kockenlocker (Betty Hutton) has a not-so-secret admirer in Norval Jones (Eddie Bracken), a local banker who only wants two things out of life. He wants to marry Trudy and he wants to be accepted into the army.

Unfortunately for Norval, he is unfit for the army, and Trudy is too much of a party girl to be interested in a banker.

Yet, Norval is dutiful and hopeful, if not a bit on the goofy side.

He gets his opportunity to save the day and win the girl when Trudy has a little too much “victory lemonade” at a dance for servicemen. When she wakes the following day, she has no recollection of the evening’s events, but discovers a make-shift ring on her left hand and assumes there has been a "honeymoon" with an unknown soldier.

It is then that Norval and Trudy decide to embark on a dizzying plan to make “everything right.”

Watching a Preston Sturges film is akin to stepping out of a rollercoaster car before it comes to a complete stop. Just when you think it is safely slowing down, the thing jolts and keeps on moving. The ride is unpredictable and yet there is always the underlying assurance that, in the end, everything will be alright.

That, in itself, is a miracle.

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