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Hail the Conquering Hero - Unrated Edition

25 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

Academy Award-winning writer and director Preston Sturges (Sullivan’s Travels) delivers a hilarious satire on the American penchant for hero worship in Hail the Conquering Hero. Born on the day his father died a hero in WWI, Woodrow Truesmith (Eddie Bracken) enlists proudly when WWII begins. Although anxious to serve his country, Woodrow is quickly discharged because of his chronic hay fever. Ashamed to return, the “conquering hero” manages to dupe his girlfriend, friends and entire hometown by having his buddies forward his letters from the “Pacific.” Nominated for a Best Original Screenplay Academy Award, this quick-witted comedy classic showcases the talents of Preston Sturges at his best.

Product Details

  • Actors: Eddie Bracken, Ella Raines, William Demarest, Raymond Walburn, Franklin Pangborn
  • Directors: Preston Sturges
  • Writers: Preston Sturges
  • Producers: Preston Sturges, Buddy G. DeSylva
  • Format: Multiple Formats, Black & White, Dolby, Full Screen, NTSC, Subtitled
  • Language: English (Dolby Digital 2.0 Mono)
  • Subtitles: French, Spanish
  • Subtitles for the Hearing Impaired: English
  • Region: Region 1 (U.S. and Canada only. Read more about DVD formats.)
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1
  • Number of discs: 1
  • Rated: NR (Not Rated)
  • Studio: Universal Studios
  • DVD Release Date: May 10, 2011
  • Run Time: 101 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (25 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B004KZH5KY
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #70,882 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)
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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

11 of 11 people found the following review helpful By Lawrance Bernabo HALL OF FAMEVINE VOICE on June 7, 2001
Format: VHS Tape
Preston Sturges' 1944 farce "Hail the Conquering Hero" tells the story of Woodrow Lafayette Pershing Truesmith (Eddie Bracken), who is discharged from the Marines because he has Hay Fever. Ashamed to go home, Woodrow meets up with Sergeant Heppelfinger (William Demarest), a decorated Marine hero from Guadalcanal, who decide the boy should return home as a hero. Woodrow returns home where the entire town shows up to greet the "conquering hero" and end up nominating him for Mayor. Of course, Woodrow becomes more and more uncomfortable with the way things are going and feelings compelled to do the right thing.
On the one hand, because this is Preston Sturges we realize this film is a rather pointed examination of the cult of hero worship that can spring up around mere mortals. Then again, you can simply take this as a variation on the old mistaken identity routine in an above-average screwball comedy. Bracken's performance is at the heart of either interpretation and it is impossible not to feel sorry for the guy, who never really wanted to go along with this ploy in the first place. Sturges employed a host of his regulars, such as Raymond Walburn and Franklin Pangborn, but newcomer Ella Raines as Libby, the girl Woodrow left behind, really shines through (think Cathy O'Donnell in "The Best Years of Our Lives"). This is not one of the films that immediately comes to mind when you think of Preston Sturges, but he rarely disappoints you with any of his films.
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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful By Dymon Enlow on January 18, 2005
Format: VHS Tape
HAIL THE CONQUERING HERO is one of the funniest screwball ensemble comedies of all time. It's also one of the best cinematic examples of the "snowball effect" where a small action has consequences that get bigger and bigger until it's nearly out of control.

Eddie Bracken grew up in a small town in the shadow of his late father who was a great war hero who died in the field of battle the day Eddie was born. Eddie's wanted nothing more in his life than to join the Marines. When he gets old enough he joins, but is then 4-F'd for "chronic hay fever". That was over a year ago and ever since he's been working in a shipyard too embarrassed to return home or even tell his mother. One night he's drowning his sorrows in a bar when in walk 6 broke Marines on leave. He buys them a round of drinks and a conversation strikes up. Before you know it the Marines have concocted a plan to get him home to his mother: dress him up as a war hero and escort him home, then after a few days they leave and he returns to civilian life...that's not the best plan ever, but their hearts are bigger than their brains. The next day in the sober sunlight their plan doesn't sound so great when the train arrives in town and not only is Eddie's mother there, but the entire town and not one but four marching bands all playing different songs at once! And that's just the start of the snowball! By the end of the day the town's folk are marching up and down the street with signs and torches loudly singing songs about how they want Eddie to be the new mayor! They also burned the mortgage note on his mother's house and are taking donations to erect a statue of him in the town square. To complicate matters even worse his ex-girlfriend (who still loves him) is now engaged to the current mayor's son.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Bomojaz on January 30, 2006
Format: VHS Tape
Top-notch Preston Sturges comedy about patriotism and small-town politics. Eddie Bracken plays the son of a WW I marine hero who has joined up for WW II with high hopes for glory, only to be discharged for hay fever. Embarrassed to go home to his mother and sweetheart (Ella Rains), he meets six marines in a bar one night (led by William Demerest) and before he knows what hit him, he's on his way home a decorated war hero (thanks to the snow job concocted by Demerest). The town goes ga-ga and ends up electing him mayor. He finally straightens things out at the end, but in the meantime we are treated to some of the best Sturges exploding humor on screen. The entire Sturges stock company is on hand, and especially good are Raymond Walburn as the windbag mayor Bracken defeats, Freddie Steele as a mother-loving marine, and, of course, Demerest. Brilliant fare, this is Sturges in peak form.

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8 of 10 people found the following review helpful By Robert Moore HALL OF FAMETOP 500 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on December 27, 2002
Format: VHS Tape
Between 1940 and 1944, Preston Sturges was on a role. He wrote and directed seven absolutely stellar comedies before he lost the magical touch that had made his one of the great comedy screenwriters of the 1930s and directors of the early 1940s. This was the last of that stellar run.
The premise is simple. Woodrow Lafayette Pershing Truesmith, magnificently portrayed by Eddie Bracken, is discharged from the marines because of hay fever, but is too ashamed to return home. Instead, he fakes a military career, having people mail home letters from abroad to make his friends and family and girlfriend all believe he is in combat. When a group of marines hear about his situation, they compassionately decide to return him to his hometown as a war hero. The bulk of the film deals with the misunderstandings that arise from this pretence.
HAIL THE CONQUERING HERO has all the marks of Sturges's best work: lightening paced dialog, a huge cast of talented character actors (most familiar from other Sturges films), and multiple layers of action in scene after scene. The ensemble cast truly excels in this film. No one, however, stands out more than William Demarest, who did almost all his greatest work in Sturges films.
For some reason, this film does not seem to be shown as often as most of Sturges best films, and even some lesser films get shown more frequently. But this is absolutely first rate Sturges, and anyone enjoying THE LADY EVE or SULLIVAN'S TRAVELS or THE PALM BEACH STORY will find just as much to love in this one.
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