“Gentlemen, is this the Christmas spirit?”
Meet Trudy Kockenlocker. She has a serious problem. Besides her last name sounding like “cockerknocker.”
You see, about nine months before Christmas, there was this all-night party with a bunch of soldiers who were about to ship off to World War II.
This party resulted in some major life-altering events for Trudy, her family, the boy who loves her, and the entire town of Morgan’s Creek.
‘Twas “The Miracle of Morgan’s Creek
Our perpetually nervous hero Norval Jones (played by Eddie Bracken) is in love with Trudy Kockenlocker (Betty Hutton). There are just a couple problems:
- She’s married (to some guy, possibly with the name Ratzkywatzky).
- She’s pregnant.
It all starts when Trudy calls up Norval to go on a date to the movies. However, it turns out the real reason for the date is to get his car so she can go to the military dance – against the wishes of her father (William Demarest), who is also the town constable.
Note that foreshadowing newspaper headline: Are Military Marriages a Menace?
After a night out dancing with multiple soldiers, drinking “victory lemonade,” and banging her head into a chandelier, Trudy returns to Norval still at the movie theater the next morning – still drunk. She has no memory of what exactly happened – and a ring on her left ring finger.
Later, Trudy drops some hints Norval about marriage, which encourages Norval to ask Trudy to marry him. Now, Trudy says it’s all so sudden, which leads to Norval talking all about the things he has done since childhood to be near her.
All of this makes Trudy cry and realize she can’t “do it” to him (i.e., force him to commit bigamy). It also makes her realize she loves him.
After Trudy confesses about the marriage and pregnancy to Norval, they come up with a plan that involves a soldier outfit and driving 25 miles out of town to see a justice of the peace (Porter Hall) to get Trudy the marriage certificate she needs.
But poor Norval screws up and signs the wrong name, which leads to the justice of the peace calling in the army and police to arrest him on a ridiculous number of charges, including abduction and imitating a soldier.
After Norval “escapes” from jail, he robs the bank he works at so he can have money to go out and find Trudy’s husband.
So how does Christmas play into this movie? Eventually, right near the end of the movie.
Some months later, apparently on Christmas Eve (though we’re never explicitly told this), we find a pregnant Trudy and the Kockenlocker family living on a farm.
But then news arrives: Norval has returned to Morgan’s Creek. Everyone converges in town just in time for Trudy to give birth (to a platoon, as one Midwest newspaper headlines calls it).
Another headline reads: HITLER DEMANDS RECOUNT! And this miracle birth apparently also forces Mussolini to resign.
This “miracle” means Norval is freed from jail. And he discovers he is now the stepfather of sextuplets.
Our Review of “The Miracle of Morgan’s Creek”
Full disclosure: we’re not big fans of older films. Sure, there are a few great ones (Danny loves his Hitchcock films), but for the most part we don’t watch many of them.
Also, we weren’t alive in the 1940s when this was made. Yes, we lack cultural context when a lot of the attitudes displayed in his film were perfectly acceptable. But the question is: is this old movie still worth watching today?
After all, this film has an 88 percent fresh score on Rotten Tomatoes. And this film earned an Oscar nomination for best screen writing. So it must be good, right?
Words like “hilarious” are tossed around when discussing this film. But most of the “humor” feels forced and extremely dated.
The biggest issue to get past is the whole “date rape” plot. A woman who can’t remember what happened to her and is now married (possibly under a false name) and impregnated.
Hilarious, right? Not really.
Apparently, “The Miracle of Morgan’s Creek” a satirical take on the birth of Jesus, with Trudy as Mary, the unknown father as God, Norval as Joseph. It’s even mentioned that the Almighty was born in a cowshed.
Plus there’s the whole part where Trudy suggest she and Norval tie rocks around their necks and go into the creek to commit suicide. “What’s wrong with gas?” Norval asks.
“The Miracle of Morgan’s Creek” has far too little “merry” and far much barbaric “old school” thinking for our liking.
The Nice List
You Get Me?
The best scene is when Papa Kockenlocker works his way from subtle hints (“you get me?”) to directly telling Norval how to break out of jail. It is pretty amusing to watch Norval’s obliviousness.
When Norval recounts all the things he’s done to try to win Trudy’s affections his entire life, you just want to hug him.
Bracken’s portrayal of Norval as a bumbling but loyal and lovable idiot is the only redeeming bit of acting in this film.
At some of Norval’s bumbling, which seems ahead of its time physical comedy-wise. The scene at the justice of peace, where his legs wobble was amusing.
Also Norval’s reaction to Trudy revealing her secret becomes one of the few amusing scenes in the movie (“The spots!” Norval cries).
Norval: Who did you marry?
Trudy: I don’t know.
Norval: YOU DON’T KNOW? What do you mean, you don’t know? That’s the most ridiculous statement I ever…
Trudy: It has a “Z” in it.
And the scene where Papa Kockenlocker talks to Norval with not one, not two, but three guns, is worth at least a couple chuckles.
The Naughty List
Is It Christmas Eve?
How were we supposed to know the babies are born on Christmas Eve? We were told it was “almost Christmas,” but we need more than that, a little snow, and a Christmas tree.
We Aren’t Dreaming of a ‘Mighty White’ Christmas
Ugh, we know it was the 1940s, but we dropped the rating by another point every time the phrase “that’s mighty white of you” was uttered.
You’ll Fall Asleep…
Waiting for the time to pass before the babies are delivered.
The Worst List
A lot. Especially:
- “Only time a woman doesn’t care to talk is when she’s dead,” says Papa Kockenlocker. Also: “Listen, zipperpuss. Someday, they’re just gonna find your hair ribbon and an axe someplace. Nothing else.” And: “Dames like to be bossed.”
- Papa Kockenlocker chasing Trudy up the stairs.
The Miracle of Morgan's Creek
We’ve put this in our Christmas-ish category because we can’t call this a Christmas movie. While the film has received many positive reviews over the years, we found more reasons to cringe (or be bored). If you’re looking for some joy or fun in your Christmas movies, look elsewhere.