Hail the Conquering Hero (1944) - Rotten Tomatoes

Hail the Conquering Hero (1944)




Critic Consensus: No consensus yet.

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Movie Info

It took nerve for writer/director Preston Sturges to lampoon the whole concept of hero worship in the middle of World War II, but once more Sturges' oddball sense of taste and propriety paid off at the box office in Hail the Conquering Hero. Eddie Bracken plays the son of a World War I Marine hero who is the first in his small town to sign up for military service. When Bracken is discharged from the Marines for hay fever, he hasn't the nerve to go home and tell his mother and the rest of the townsfolk. Fortunately, he is befriended by a bunch of good-hearted Marines, led by sergeant William Demarest. Bracken's new buddies decide to help him save face by accompanying him to his home and telling one and all that Bracken has served valiantly in the Pacific. Lauded as a hero thanks to this subterfuge, the hapless Bracken finds himself being coerced into running for mayor! When he finally does confess the truth, the townspeople decide that only a real hero would own up to his lies in public. As always, Preston Sturges' richly varied supporting cast makes the most of every scene they're in, especially Raymond Walburn as a blustering politico and Franklin Pangborn as a persnickety councilman. Special mention must be made of Ella Raines as a refreshingly non-cliched heroine, and ex-boxer Freddie Steele as a morose Marine with a Mother complex. While Eddie Bracken's nerdish mannerisms can wear on the viewer, he is kept marvelously in check throughout Hail the Conquering Hero.more
Rating: Unrated
Genre: Drama, Classics, Comedy
Directed By:
Written By: Preston Sturges
In Theaters:
On DVD: May 10, 2011
MCA Universal Home Video


Eddie Bracken
as Woodrow Truesmith
Raymond Walburn
as Mayor Noble
Bill Edwards
as Forrest Noble
Jimmie Dundee
as Corporal
Georgia Caine
as Mrs. Truesmith
Al Bridge
as Political Boss
Alan Bridge
as Political Boss
Esther Howard
as Mrs. Noble
Elizabeth Patterson
as Libby's Aunt
Jimmy Conlin
as Judge Dennis
Arthur Hoyt
as Rev. Upperman
Harry Hayden
as Doc Bissell
Franklin Pangborn
as Committee Chairman
Victor Potel
as Progressive Bandlead...
Torben Meyer
as Mr. Schultz
Jack Norton
as Regular Bandleader
John Sinclair
as American Legion Band...
Robert Warwick
as Marine Colonel
Chester Conklin
as Western Union Man
Frank Moran
as Town Painter
Tom McGuire
as Town Councilman
Philo McCullough
as Town Councilman
Franklyn Farnum
as Town Councilman
Kenneth Gibson
as Town Councilman
Paul Porcasi
as Manager of Cafe
George Anderson
as Bartender
Mildred Harris
as Marine Colonel's Wif...
Dot Farley
as Mamie's Mother
Maxine Fife
as Colonel's Daughter
Pauline Drake
as Telephone Operator
Dewey Robinson
as Conductor
Franklin Farnum
as Town Councilman
Show More Cast

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Critic Reviews for Hail the Conquering Hero

All Critics (19) | Top Critics (4)

The deft hand of Preston Sturges molded this film, further proof that he is one of the industry's best writer-directors.

Full Review… | November 13, 2007
Top Critic

Wonderful satire on small-town jingoism, all the more remarkable in that it was made during World War II.

Full Review… | February 9, 2006
Time Out
Top Critic

This riotously funny motion picture, this superlative small-town comedy, is also one of the wisest ever to burst from a big-time studio.

Full Review… | May 20, 2003
New York Times
Top Critic

A scathing delight.

Full Review… | January 1, 2000
Chicago Reader
Top Critic

It is a bewilderingly skillful picture, and the skill is used no more brilliantly to tell the story than to cover up the story's weaknesses and those of its author, Preston Sturges.

Full Review… | September 14, 2012
The Nation

Hail the Conquering Hero is widely praised as one of Preston Sturges' best films, but I found it tedious and mawkish - the 1944 equivalent of a dopey sitcom.

Full Review… | November 15, 2010
Sarasota Herald-Tribune

Audience Reviews for Hail the Conquering Hero

eddie bracken plays a washed out marine who returns home to a hero's welcome thanks to some service buddies who don't want to disappoint his mother. and then things get complicated. great performances, wonderful writing, classic sturges

Stella Dallas

Super Reviewer


Frantic comedy that in lesser hands would be ridiculous but Sturges moves it along at such a lively clip that it comes across as silly and charming. An ace cast all perform marvelously but Demarest stands out as marine with a solution, no matter how farfetched, for every problem.

jay nixon

Super Reviewer


Only the second Sturges film I've seen, following The Lady Eve, which I slightly prefer. The movie about a coming back from war guilt ridden "hero" who lied all the way to being nominated for mayor, has a few laughs, but isn't anything special. It's from 1944, and is unfortunately outdated with his beautiful America attitude. It was nothing more than Ok.

Daniel Dolgin
Daniel Dolgin

Super Reviewer

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