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Hail the Conquering Hero [DVD]

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Product details

  • Actors: Eddie Bracken, Ella Raines, Raymond Walburn
  • Directors: Preston Sturges
  • Writers: Preston Sturges
  • Producers: Preston Sturges, Buddy G. DeSylva
  • Format: PAL
  • Language: English
  • Subtitles For The Hearing Impaired: English
  • Region: Region 2 (This DVD may not be viewable outside Europe. Read more about DVD formats.)
  • Aspect Ratio: 4:3 - 1.33:1
  • Number of discs: 1
  • Classification: U
  • Studio: Universal Pictures UK
  • DVD Release Date: 30 Jan. 2013
  • Run Time: 101 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 3.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (4 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B0009G1ISS
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 27,785 in DVD & Blu-ray (See Top 100 in DVD & Blu-ray)


Classic Hollywood satirical comedy written and directed by Preston Sturges. Patriotic Woodrow Truesmith (Eddie Bracken) joins up to fight in the war, only to be discharged within days because of his chronic asthma. Encouraged by a group of marines who sympathise with his problem, Truesmith decides to lie about his service record and returns to his home town as a war hero. With only his ex-girlfriend unimpressed, Truesmith finds himself being championed as a future mayor after receiving a hero's welcome.

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Customer Reviews

3.5 out of 5 stars
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By G. L. Craig on 2 Jun. 2010
Format: DVD Verified Purchase
I'm not going to review the film itself, it's a well loved comedy classic. I really enjoyed seeing it again. What I have to say though is that the picture quality can only be described as adequate. At a guess I'd say it was made from an old master tape. What you get is something that is only slighty better than VHS with no extras. It's no match for the many old classics that have been restored, or even just re-transferred for DVD or Bluray. All of the Preston Sturges classics deserve a proper restoration.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By BPR on 18 Dec. 2011
Format: DVD
This is actually my first foray into Preston Sturges' filmography (as director at least) so I wasn't sure what to expect outside of what the cover said. I have to say that it's a film I'm glad I picked up. Eddie Bracken is very good as the soldier who never went to war due to a serious bout of hayfever and is so embarrassed he decides to not go back to his hometown... that is until a group of soldiers he buys a drink for tries to fix his problem against his will by phoning his mother and telling her that he will be coming home. He goes home and one thing leads to another until he is put forward as a candidate for mayor. He tries to come clean but as the stories from the other soldiers get more involving and his 'hero' status in his hometown gets higher it becomes harder and harder for the truth to come out. The film works well and has a good cast and above average script making me more interested in picking up more of Sturges' films when I see them real cheap. 3.5/5
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Format: DVD
A wonderfully funny comedy from the pen of the genius Preston Sturges. Watching any one of an astonishing seven brilliant films written and directed by Sturges in five years is to realise that at whatever point you're at in any of the movies, the quality of the dialogue is up there with the likes of Casablanca.

It's 1944, the U.S. is fully committed in WWII and Sturges comes up with this script and movie with the bombastic title, Hail the Conquering Hero' but principle character who is anything but at least in terms of warfare. His wartime career is in fact an embarrassing flop, and it's this hero that Sturges chooses to celebrate.

A good tester early on as to whether you can keep up with this quality of film is to see what you make of the interplay between the marines and with Eddie Bracken's principle character at the bar. If you love it, you're getting it.
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1 of 4 people found the following review helpful By hmorley on 27 April 2010
Format: DVD Verified Purchase
I only bought this dvd to see the delectable Ella Raines.The comedy was weak and I did not like the blustering sergeant while Eddie Bracken played a wimp.Ella Raines was rather wasted here as she was very good playing heroines and producers should have given her more meaty roles than this.Her best film was "Impact" (1948).
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on (beta) 25 reviews
11 of 11 people found the following review helpful
Preston Sturges' screwball comedy about hero worship 8 Jun. 2001
By Lawrance Bernabo - Published on
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.
7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
"What are you nuts or something!?" "Maybe." 18 Jan. 2005
By Dymon Enlow - Published on
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. From beginning to end the entire thing is just a frenzy of people running around like mad, talking and shouting over each other. It's hilarious and even at moments very touching.

All of the films Preston Sturges wrote and directed between 1941 and 1944 were masterpieces. Most of the credit goes to Sturges and his amazing scripts, but we can't forget Sturges regular actors who appeared in all of his films during this period. Of his 38 regulars 22 starred in this film.

I can't recommend this movie enough. I've seen it dozens of times and one of the things I like to do now to keep it fresh is pick out one actor and just watch them the entire time whether they're speaking or not. I think the best to watch is Ella Raines, mainly because she's beautiful, but also because her reactions all of the crazy stuff stuff going on around her is priceless. One question I do have that I doubt will ever get answered is: during Mayor Noble's speech at the train station if you watch Ella's character she's holding a bouquet of "del-fuminimums". During the madness she turns a few times and each time the tip of the flowers rubs Franklin Pandborn's face. Was that planned or did it just happen? Either way Franklin plays it smooth and his facial expressions are amusing.

Every time Eddie sneezes I can't help but think of "Spots! Spots!" from THE MIRACLE OF MORGAN'S CREEK.
4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
"Opportunity has only one hair on its head - Grab it!" 30 Jan. 2006
By Bomojaz - Published on
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.

8 of 10 people found the following review helpful
Perhaps Sturges most neglected masterpiece 27 Dec. 2002
By Robert Moore - Published on
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.
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
Why should we preserve films? This film provides the answer... 9 Feb. 2013
By Albert M. Bozzo - Published on
Format: DVD Verified Purchase
Preston Sturges place in film history is legendary. However, this film is often underated as one of his many film achievements. In many ways this is the perfect film. Outside of the frenetic pacing executed during most of it, the comic aspects of the script and the excellent performances of the cast there are several very significant elements to this movie that should be acknowledged. It is a true snapshot of our culture at the time it was made. The film reflects the values of our society, especially patriotism and devotion to our mothers. It makes very pointed political statements that are still (unfortunately) true today. Most of all, Hail The Conquering Hero makes us laugh. This film is a great example of why we should preserve our film history! Some may think it corny and trite, but look closely and you may think differently!
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