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Hail the Conquering Hero

Hail the Conquering Hero(1944)

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Preston Sturges' onscreen credit reads: "Written and directed by Preston Sturges." The working titles of this film were Once Upon a Hero and The Little Marine. According to information in the Paramount Collection at the AMPAS Library, an early, tentative title for the production was Praise the Lord and Pass the Ammunition. (Although The Human Strongbox was announced first in 1943 as a Preston Sturges-directed Eddie Bracken picture for Paramount, it bears no relation to this film, and was later announced as a title for a 1946 Harold Lloyd picture that was never made.) Modern sources and Preston Sturges' autobiography note that at the time he made Hail the Conquering Hero, Sturges was embroiled in a conflict with Paramount. Paramount executives wanted to replace actress Ella Raines in the film, but Sturges refused to comply as shooting had already begun. Due to additional conflicts with Paramount, including editorial control and censorship problems with his previous two pictures, The Miracle of Morgan's Creek and The Great Moment, Sturges left the studio upon completion of this film. (Although The Miracle of Morgan's Creek and The Great Moment were produced before Hail the Conquering Hero, they were released after it.) According to modern sources, as Sturges had already left the studio, producer B. G. DeSylva had this film re-cut without him after an unsuccessful preview in New York. However, after yet another unsuccessful preview, Sturges returned and rewrote and reshot the ending in April 1944.
       This film marks ex-boxer Freddie Steele and Stephen Gregory's feature film debuts. Sturges was nominated for two Academy Awards in 1944 for Best Original Screenplay for this film, and for The Miracle of Morgan's Creek. Many modern critics consider Hail the Conquering Hero as Sturges' best film.