Hail the Conquering Hero
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Time Out saysWonderful satire on small-town jingoism, all the more remarkable in that it was made during World War II. Bracken is the scrawny Marine, son of a World War I hero, instantly invalided out because of hay fever. Terrified at this mortal blow to family pride, he hides out as a shipyard worker while pretending to be overseas, until forcibly escorted home by six sympathetic Marines who learn his story. But a quirk of the telephone wires has translated 'hay' into 'jungle' fever, and to his horror he finds a civic welcome awaiting him as a Pacific war hero, with worse to come when he is adopted by acclaim as candidate for mayor. The ending has been taxed with sentimentality, although it is in fact deeply ironic. Otherwise no Middle American sacred cow (from mom and apple pie to heroic fathers) is spared in this hilarious blend of satire, slapstick and comedy of manners, with marvellous dialogue full of dizzy non-sequiturs and an amazing gallery of grotesque characters.