For Valentine’s Day, Why Not Watch Something Less Schmaltzy?

Preston Sturges - The Filmmaker Collection (Sullivan's Travels/The Lady Eve/The Palm Beach Story/Hail the Conquering Hero/The Great McGinty/Christmas in July/The Great Moment)This Valentine’s Day, you could watch your typical romantic comedy. Or maybe some snooze-fest of a drama. But why not turn back the clock a few decades and watch Hail the Conquering Hero, instead? It came out in 1944 and was directed by Preston Sturges, the same genius who brought you Sullivan’s Travels and The Lady Eve. And yes, it’s not your typical romantic comedy, but that’s in its favor, right?

The story’s simple: Woodrow always wanted to be a hero like his father, a Marine who was killed in action. He enters the Marines . . . and gets discharged for hay fever. Too ashamed to go home, he sends letters home instead, telling his mom all about the action overseas that he’s not really involved in. He desperately wants to go home, but he can’t bring himself to–until a group of real Marines finds out about him and force his hand. They tell him to lie and start pulling strings for him, then accompany him home personally.

Hijinks ensue.

And of course his hometown sweetheart is engaged to another man, because Woodrow wrote her and told her he had fallen for someone else–another lie. And so of course who knows if he’ll get her back or not.

Really, the movie is just a delight. The only discomfort for me was wondering whether he would continually lie his way out of tight spots, or whether it would all turn out well in the end. I think you’ll enjoy it more knowing that you’ll like the ending. I don’t think you’ll be disappointed.

Also nice to see a movie where the Marines are presented so favorably. After A Few Good Men, Born on the Fourth of July and Full Metal Jacket, anything positive is a nice change.

Anyway, I’m at the library this evening, and Denisa worked this morning. Not much of a Valentine’s Day for me–not that I’m a big fan to begin with. If you like it, more power to ya.

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