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The Great Man Votes (1939)

Passed | | Drama | 13 January 1939 (USA)
In 1923, Gregory Vance, a widower with two children, is a former scholar who has turned from book-to-bottle. He works, slightly, as a night-watchman and his children, who know him for what ... See full summary »

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(story), (screen play)
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Cast

Complete credited cast:
...
Vance
Peter Holden ...
Donald
...
Joan
...
Miss Billow
Donald MacBride ...
Iron Hat McCarthy
...
Davy McCarthy (as Bennie Bartlett)
Brandon Tynan ...
Chester Ainslee
...
Phoebe Ainslee
...
The Mayor
Luis Alberni ...
Manos
J.M. Kerrigan ...
Hot Shot Gillings
...
Charles Dale
Roy Gordon ...
Mr. Byrne
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Storyline

In 1923, Gregory Vance, a widower with two children, is a former scholar who has turned from book-to-bottle. He works, slightly, as a night-watchman and his children, who know him for what he is and what he isn't, are his only admirers. Then, it is discovered that he is the only registered voter in a key precinct and the politicians, from both parties, arrive in droves bearing inducements. What he does about this situation, and the relatives who want to take his children away from him make up the story. Written by Les Adams <longhorn1939@suddenlink.net>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

Taglines:

WHAT MAKES A GREAT PICTURE?...In this case it's a man with a hole in his pants and an empty heart...and two loyal kids who just knew their dad was a great man...and that wonderful, intangible something that makes blood pound faster, brings a lump in the throat, a laugh of gladness, and a precious tear to the eye! Come expecting one of the best pictures you've ever seen! See more »

Genres:

Drama

Certificate:

Passed | See all certifications »
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Details

Country:

Language:

Release Date:

13 January 1939 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Il voto del grand'uomo  »

Box Office

Budget:

$84,000 (estimated)
 »

Company Credits

Production Co:

 »
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Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

(RCA Victor System)

Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
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Did You Know?

Trivia

Garson Kanin wrote that he insisted that everyone working on the film call John Barrymore "Mr. Barrymore" in a attempt to perk up the actor's sagging self-image, including people who had known Barrymore for years. Several members of the crew quit the film instead of following Kanin's edict. See more »

Goofs

When Davy pushes the new kid in the school yard, shadows of the camera and the boom microphone can clearly be seen on the ground behind them. The shadow of the camera then moves as it follows Davy afterwords. See more »

Quotes

Gregory Vance: Gregory Vance, magnified briefly, by a kindly destiny, in a kindly land where... where greatness is within a people, not within a man; and where any man who calls himself great, is only looking at his shadow, from the shoulders of those who have lifted him up. Today, his own feet must carry him. Side by side we walk today, the big and the little, and, those we sometimes call: the down and out. A voter, by the name of Mr. Whittier, once spoke of that. Today, of all the weary year, a king of men ...
See more »

Soundtracks

(Hail, Hail,) The Gang's All Here
(1904) (uncredited)
Music by Theodore Morse
Lyrics by Dolly Morse
Played during the opening credits
Reprised by the marching band at the parade
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User Reviews

 
Like a train wreck
5 April 2016 | by (Buffalo, New York) – See all my reviews

Watching John Barrymore's last films is like watching a train wreck and we do have a fascination with disaster of all kind. Knowing that Barrymore was given to the inebriation he portrays on the screen it's like rubbernecking when you watch his last films like The Great Man Votes.

In The Great Man Votes Barrymore is 57 and he must have married real late in life to have fathered children the age of Virginia Weidler and Peter Holden. He's a former scholar who has gone to seed living in a rat trap filled with books and he certainly has given his kids one classical education beyond their years. A great bit of home schooling but his kids aren't exactly ready for the social aspects of the outside world. Especially for a bully like Bennie Bartlett who's dad Donald MacBride is the ward boss of the district where in the particular precinct Barrymore and the kids live, Jack is the only registered voter. Bartlett was the best one in the film.

For reasons that were never satisfactorily explained to me Barrymore's vote in carrying the district 1 to 0 for MacBride and his party take on a great significance. So he's courted and feted while at the same time Barrymore has a custody fight going with his late wife's family for the kids.

In Margot Peters book about the Barrymore clan she goes into some description of Jack's decline. He had an incident with Virginia Weidler when she was trying to steal a scene. Did not show the aging matinée idol in the greatest light.

The Great Man Votes is supposed to be political satire, but it really never accomplishes the goal. It might have been better handled by Preston Sturges and a year later in The Great McGinty he showed how these kinds of films are to be made.


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