AFI Catalog of Feature Films
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The Miracle of Morgan's Creek
Director: Preston Sturges (Dir)
Release Date:   Jan 1944
Duration (in mins):  101
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Cast: Eddie Bracken  (Norval Jones)
  Betty Hutton  (Trudy Kockenlocker)
  Diana Lynn  (Emmy Kockenlocker)
 

Summary: Just before Christmas, the editor of the Morgan's Creek newspaper anxiously calls Governor McGinty to announce some astonishing news. Although McGinty is impatient, the editor begins to relate a long-winded story: After reading an editorial in the Morgan's Creek newspaper on sudden war marriages, grumpy town policeman Officer Kockenlocker forbids his nearly adult daughter Trudy from attending a farewell dance for soldiers. Trudy, convinced that dating soldiers fulfills her patriotic duty, rebels and pretends that her childhood friend, homely, stuttering Norval Jones, whose enlistment has been rejected because of his high blood pressure, is taking her out to the movies. While Trudy attends the dance, Norval reluctantly sits through three features at the movie theater. Trudy, meanwhile, drinks champagne and dances with soldier after soldier. While dancing the jitterbug at one point, Trudy is knocked on the head by a chandelier. When she finally picks Norval up at eight in the morning, she does not remember where she has been, and Norval takes the brunt of her father's anger. Later, while talking with her fourteen-year-old sister Emmy, Trudy vaguely recalls using an assumed name and marrying someone the night before. Her suspicions are confirmed by the wedding band she now wears. Some time later, Trudy's worst fears are realized when she learns that she is pregnant. Still completely unaware of the identity of her husband, Trudy consults with lawyer E. L. Johnson, who says that her marriage is legal, even though she used an assumed name and has no idea who the groom was. Although she previously spurned Norval's awkward romantic advances, Trudy now encourages him, and Norval, who has been devoted to Trudy since childhood, is stunned by her sudden change of heart. However, Trudy's conscience will not allow her to deceive earnest Norval, and she confesses her predicament to him. Trudy then sincerely falls in love with Norval, but refuses to marry him as it would constitute bigamy. Kockenlocker, however, is unaware of his daughter's situation and intimidates Norval into the marriage, as the town is already gossiping about Trudy. Hoping she can obtain a new marriage license with the name of her first husband on it in order to get a divorce and then marry Norval, Trudy sneaks away with Norval. At the Honeymoon Hotel, twenty-five miles from Morgan's Creek, Trudy registers under her real name, and Norval, wearing a World War I cavalry uniform, uses the name Ratzkiwatzki, which Trudy believes is her first husband's name. After the hasty ceremony is performed by the proprietor, however, Norval signs his real name to the license, and Woodson accuses him of having abducted Trudy, who is a minor, and impersonating an officer. Norval and Trudy are brought home by a bevy of police, who have brought nineteen charges against Norval, and refuse to listen to Trudy's explanation. Kockenlocker is forced to imprison Norval, and as a gesture of kindness, Woodson tears up the marriage certificate. Kockenlocker realizes that this was a mistake, however, when Trudy admits that she is pregnant. Kockenlocker then encourages Norval to escape, but he is too honest and refuses until Kockenlocker forcibly removes him from jail. Norval then slips into the bank where he works and takes $900 from his account, intending to search for Ratzkiwatzki. Norval escapes in Kockenlocker's car after he sets off the alarm, and Emmy and Trudy tie up their father and knock him out to mitigate his involvement in the break-in. Having brought McGinty up to date, the editor finally reveals that Norval, who is still considered an escaped prisoner and bank robber, has returned from his unsuccessful trek searching for Trudy's husband, and was picked up by police after discovering that Kockenlocker was fired and moved out of town six months earlier. Trudy learns of Norval's return and insists on returning to Morgan's Creek to publicly state the truth, but her speech is preempted when she goes into labor and gives birth to sextuplets, thereby making national headlines. McGinty drops all charges against Norval, arranges for Trudy's first marriage to be annulled, and insists that she has been married to Norval all along. The effects of the birth of sextuplets are felt around the world, and Norval himself becomes hysterical when he learns how many children will bear his name. 

Distribution Company: Paramount Pictures, Inc.
Production Company: Paramount Pictures, Inc.
Director: Preston Sturges (Dir)
  Edmund Bernoudy (Asst dir)
  Barton Adams (2d asst dir)
  P. Martin (2d asst dir)
Producer: B. G. DeSylva (Exec prod)
Writer: Preston Sturges (Wrt)

Subject Major: Fathers and daughters
  Marriage
  Parentage
  Pregnancy
  Romance
  Small town life
 
Subject Minor: Aliases
  Amnesia
  Bank clerks
  Bank robberies
  Christmas
  Dances
  Editors
  Governors
  Impersonation and imposture
  Jailbreaks
  Jitterbug (Dance)
  Justices of the peace
  Lawyers
  Marriage--Annulment
  Patriotism
  Sisters
  Soldiers
  World War II

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The American Film Institute is grateful to Sir Paul Getty KBE and the Sir Paul Getty KBE Estate for their dedication to the art of the moving image and their support for the AFI Catalog of Feature Films and without whose support AFI would not have been able to achieve this historical landmark in this epic scholarly endeavor.
 
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