Recession Cinema: Miracle of Morgan’s Creek

Save your pennies, skip Film Forum and watch our classic pick on TV!

The Miracle of Morgan’s Creek (TCM, Sunday, 10:15 am) was the Juno of 1944. The full plot summary would require thousands of confusing words so let’s try long story short: Small town Trudy loves soldiers, which is why, the morning after a farewell dance for a bunch of them, she wakes up concussed, hung over, newly married to a private who is maybe named Ratzkiwatzki but has definitely already shipped out–not to mention she’s, surprise, knocked up. Unfit-for-service Norval loves Trudy, which is why he pretends he impregnated her and tries his hardest to marry her. Needless to say, hijinks ensue.

Among Preston Sturges’ comedies, we prefer The Lady Eve, where Henry Fonda falls in love with Barbara Stanwyck, loses her, and then falls in love with her all over again while she’s masquerading as a different woman. It’s Vertigo if Vertigo was hilarious and not soul-crushing. Everybody else on earth seems to prefer Sullivan’s Travels, his Hollywood satire, or The Palm Beach Story, because it stars Claudette Colbert.

But Morgan’s Creek is a pretty great time, mostly because you can’t believe you’re watching a ‘40s comedy about a young woman… who’s pregnant… because she had a one-night stand… with some anonymous dude… she met, screwed, and married while hammered on "victory lemonade"… and after she’d drunkenly jitterbugged herself straight into a chandelier. (Which explains the concussion.) Sturges later wrote, in his autobiography, that he wanted Morgan’s Creek to "show what happens to young girls who disregard their parents’ advice and who confuse patriotism with promiscuity." This is very responsible, very moral, except the movie doesn’t. Morgan’s Creek never judges Trudy, even if Sturges did.

Now imagine the same movie today. Juno, after all, got pregnant in the most wholesome way and with Michael Cera, who was almost as innocent as a bystander. A remake of The Miracle of Morgan’s Creek, about a drunk chick who fucks soldiers on their way to war, would be a grainy, miserable, unhappily ending drama shown on just a few theater screens instead of, well, the highest grossing movie of its year.

Recession Cinema: Miracle of Morgan’s Creek