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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 1944 Screwball Comedy from Preston Sturges, set in the epomymous small town during World War II.

Trudy Kockenlocker (Betty Hutton), 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. While she doesn't quite remember what happens that night except that she thinks she got married to a soldier (named, or so she thinks, "Ratzkywatzky") she subsequently learns that, as a result of the night's activities, she is pregnant. Her younger sister Emmy (Diana Lynn) convinces her to trick Norval into marrying her. Trudy can't quite bring herself to do it especially after she sees Norval's reaction to the happy news but Norval ends up wanting to marry her anyway. Because this is a Preston Sturges movie, Hilarity Ensues.

Despite the fact this its release was delayed for nearly two years due to censorship issues with The Hays Code, this film remains one of the most adroit examples of censorship subversion ever made.

This film provides examples of:

  • Give the Baby a Father: Central theme. Norval saves Trudy's name by posing as the actual father.
  • Good-Times Montage: Trudy at the various dances (strung together with her and the soldiers singing "Row, Row Your Boat" as they drive from place to place), right up until she "hits her head".
  • 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.
  • 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.
    (phone rings)
    (Norval has 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.)
  • Jurisdiction Friction: The army, the state police, and the federal police all want to arrest Norval after his failed attempt at marrying Trudy (see Nice Job Breaking It, Hero below).
  • Law of Inverse Fertility: Trudy gets pregnant via one night stand.
  • Little Miss Snarker: Emmy is 14 years old and almost every line she delivers is snarky
  • Nice Job Breaking It, Hero: 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 signs his own name, which gets him and Trudy in trouble.
  • 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."
  • Single Woman Seeks Good Man: She's indifferent to Norval for most of the movie and seems much more interesed in flirting with the soldiers but is heavily implied she's attracted in them for doing their duty for their country, she ends falling in love with Norval for real after she finds out about all the things Norval did for her through their lifes.
  • 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.
  • Spit Take: A variation; the Governor drops his cigarette on his lap when he hears what the "miracle" is.
  • 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.
  • Surprise Multiple Birth: The titular miracle of the film turns out to be sextuplet boys.
  • 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.
    • Trudy also acts indignant every time someone asks her if she was drunk the previous night, claiming she never gets drunk.
  • 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.