Film / The Miracle of Morgan's Creek

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Governor McGinty: This is the biggest thing to happen to this state since we stole it from the Indians!

The Miracle of Morgan's Creek is a Screwball Comedy from Preston Sturges set during World War II.

Trudy Kockenlocker (Betty Hutton), the daughter of the town constable (William Demarest), sneaks out against her father's wishes to a dance for the soldiers, using a date with Norval Jones (Eddie Bracken) as an excuse. She doesn't really remember what happens that night, except she thinks she got married to a soldier (named, or so she thinks, "Ratzkywatzky"). Later, she finds out, as a result of that night, she's pregnant, and her younger sister Emmy (Diana Lynn) convinces her to trick Norval into marrying her. She can't bring herself to do it, especially when she sees how Norval reacts to it, but Norval ends up wanting to marry her anyway. Because this is a Preston Sturges film, Hilarity Ensues.

Despite the fact this was delayed two years due to censorship issues with The Hays Code, this remains one of the most adroit examples of Getting Crap Past the Radar ever made.

This film provides examples of:

  • Accidental Marriage: Trudy gets married in a fit of intoxication. She cannot remember the details the next day.
  • As Long as It Sounds Foreign: The German Spinning Paper sports wrong grammar in the head line. Also Hitler's speech is pseudo-Germanic gibberish.
  • Bad Liar: Norval, and his stutter only makes it worse.
  • The Cameo: Brian Donlevy and Akim Tamiroff reprise their roles from The Great McGinty as McGinty and The Boss.note 
    • There's also a Continuity Nod when The Boss repeats a gag from the earlier film.
    • This causes a Continuity Snarl as McGinty and The Boss fled to Latin America in their film.
  • Cannot Spit It Out: Well, Norval can say it, but because of his Speech Impediment, it just takes him a while.
  • Delayed Reaction: The father's delayed surprise reaction when Trudy mentions her pregnancy.
  • Does This Remind You of Anything?: Let's see now; a woman gets pregnant without any idea how she did, her boyfriend wants to leave her but is later convinced to marry her, they're eventually forced out of polite society, and she ends up in a house with a barn during Christmas season when she's finally about to give birth.
    • Also, the fact Trudy has six babies is a loose reference to the Dionne Quintuplets. Lampshaded by the headline "Canada Protests: 'Possible but not Probable' says Premier".
    • Trudy's father mentions that Jesus was born "in a cowshed" and then we see that there's a cow in the house.
  • Earn Your Happy Ending: Norval starts out as the Dogged Nice Guy and has to go through some hardship to finally get his happy ending with Trudy.
  • Fainting: Papa Kockenlocker faints when hearing about his six grand sons.
  • Foreshadowing: Right before Trudy tricks him into taking his car to go out, Norval proudly declares that he almost wishes Trudy was in trouble so he could get her out of it. He has no idea.
  • Framing Device: The film starts with the editor of the local paper calling Governor McGinty to tell him the story, and it ends up being a flashback to what happened.
  • Getting Crap Past the Radar: Director Preston Sturges tailored the script so that it complied with the letter of the production code, even while violating the spirit. That's why everyone's drinking lemonade at the party — everybody in the audience knows its supposed to be booze, but Sturges could tell the Breen office, "No, it's not alcohol, just lemonade. Trudy loses her memory of the night not because she's drunk but because she whanged her head on the chandelier."
    • And then there's, of course, her last name, the possibility she had sex with several soldiers in one night while she was "drunk", and the fact it's pretty much a parody of the Nativity Story.
  • Give the Baby a Father: Central theme. Norval saves Trudy's name by posing as the actual father.
  • Green-Eyed Monster: Norval doesn't qualify for the army because every time he goes in for an interview, he gets nervous and excited, he starts to see spots, and his blood pressure gets too high. So he's jealous of all of the soldiers, especially about the fact Trudy seems more interested in them than him.
  • Idiot Ball: Norval gets the idea of pretending to be "Ratzkywatzky", dressing up as a soldier, and driving to an out-of-way town with Trudy so she can have a marriage license that says she's married, and therefore will be spared the shame of being an unwed mother. So what happens? The marriage goes through without a hitch, but instead of signing Ratzkywatzky's name, he's signs his own name, which gets him and Trudy in trouble.
  • I Have This Friend...: When Emmy and Trudy go to see Mr. Johnson, the town lawyer, they use this. Because they're more vague than most people who use this trope are, he doesn't see through the ruse. Later, when they're walking home, Emmy insists on using this trope when talking to Trudy because it makes things easier to discuss.
  • Immediate Self-Contradiction: Norval when talking to his mother on the porch:
    Norval : I'm perfectly calm. I'm as cool as ice.
    (The phone rings)
    Norval goes through a seizure.
  • Insistent Terminology: See the quote at the top of the page.
  • Instantly Proven Wrong: The Epic Fail when Norval breaks into the bank.
    Norval: You have to know exactly what to do or else... it'll set off the alarm.
    Old Kockenlocker: Can you do it?
    Norval: Yes.
    Cue the alarm going off as Norval opens the safe.
  • Law of Inverse Fertility: Trudy gets pregnant via one night stand.
  • Oh Crap!: Trudy and Emmy when they see the wedding ring on Trudy's hand.
  • Papa Wolf: Constable Kockenlocker, though his daughters are normally able to get around that.
  • Patient Childhood Love Interest: Norval and Trudy are childhood friends and at one point Norval confesses that he was always in love with her but couldn't spit it out all this time.
  • Pre-emptive Declaration: On the porch with her father, Emmy mentions that she heard a police siren. The father notes that there are no sirens in town. Seconds later, her prediction comes true as a convoy delivers Trudy and Norval to their doorstops.
  • Rapid-Fire Comedy: Particularly at the beginning and the end.
  • Real Men Wear Pink: Constable Kockenlocker may act rough with everybody, but he also wears an apron.
  • Running Gag: "Shut up! Not you!" "Retroactive!"
    • "The SPOTS!"
    • Whenever Emmy says something to annoy her father, he tries to kick her, but ends up slipping and falling instead.
  • Serious Business: The birth of the sextuplets literally changes the course of WWII.
  • Shout-Out to Shakespeare: The title card at the end quotes Twelfth Night: "Some are born great, some achieve greatness, and some have greatness thrust upon them."
  • Society Marches On: The habit of getting married while drunk and without legal documents seems foreign from today's standpoint. Not the first time in a Sturges movie though.
  • Speech Impediment: Norval has a pretty bad one.
  • Spinning Paper: The reactions from around the country, and the world, to the "miracle", including from Adolf Hitler and Mussolini.
  • Stepping Out for a Quick Cup of Coffee: The father desperately imposes this trope on Norval to help him escape from his prison cell but the latter doesn't seem to comprehend.
  • Take That: The Hays Code wouldn't allow Sturges to portray Trudy getting drunk. His solution? Have her drink what looks like lemonade, then have her hit her head, so she'd be acting drunk and completely forget about critical details of what happens to her that night.
  • Title Drop: Partially. The father calls the incident "The mystery of Morgan's Creek" when hearing of his daughter's pregnancy. Little does he know of the upcoming miracle.
  • Too Many Babies: Trudy giving birth to sextuplets.
  • Unusual Euphemism: Trudy refers to being drunk as being "swiffled".
  • Wham Line: A rare funny example: "Six; all boys!"
  • What Did I Do Last Night?: Trudy only has a vague memory of the night before where she may (or may not) have gotten married to a soldier who may (or may not) have been named "Ratzkywatzky".
  • Who's Your Daddy?: Trudy just can't remember who the father of her babies is.
  • Wise Beyond Their Years: Emmy. She's the one who comes up with the plan to marry Norval.

http://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pmwiki.php/Film/TheMiracleOfMorgansCreek