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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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Cast

Complete credited cast:
...
Vance
Peter Holden ...
Donald
...
Joan
...
Miss Billow
Donald MacBride ...
Iron Hat McCarthy
Benny Bartlett ...
Davy McCarthy (as Bennie Bartlett)
Brandon Tynan ...
Chester Ainslee
Elisabeth Risdon ...
Phoebe Ainslee
Granville Bates ...
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:

 »
Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

(RCA Victor System)

Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
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Did You Know?

Trivia

"The Screen Guild Theater" broadcast a 30 minute radio adaptation of the movie on November 3, 1940 with John Barrymore and Virginia Weidler reprising their film roles. See more »

Goofs

Impressions in the wet cement change greatly from the shot where Davy is pulled from it to the close-up of the cement worker looking down at it in the trough. See more »

Quotes

Gregory Vance: My dear lady, I seem to detect in you perspicacity only too rare these days.
Miss Billow: Mr. Vance, you astonish me.
Gregory Vance: At times madam, I astonish myself.
See more »

Soundtracks

The Battle Cry of Freedom
(1864) (uncredited)
Written by George Frederick Root
Played during the opening credits
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User Reviews

John Barrymore at His Best
16 May 2004 | by (Ottawa) – See all my reviews

"Great Man Votes" is simple, unpretentious, thoroughly charming slice of Americana, made for RKO in 1939, expertly directed by Garson Kanin. Its simplistic view of small-town politics in a by-gone era may be outdated by now, but it passes by pleasantly in its short running time.

I wanted to see it because of the legendary John Barrymore, who here gives one of his most honest and satisfying performances as Gregory Vance, an eccentric, once-famous Harvard professor who turned to alcohol after the death of his wife. Vance lives with his two charming kids (Peter Holden and Virginia Wiedler). One day, he has been chosen to cast the deciding vote in the city's mayoral election.

Though it is at first a portrait of community in an idealistic American city set sometime in the 1920s, "Great Man Votes" is mostly a character study. Barrymore excels in his incarnation of Vance. And he does it well while being drunk most of the time. He is at once funny yet sad, innocent yet scrupulous, sardonic yet charming.

This was one of Barrymore's last memorable performances as a leading man and another reminder of what an extraordinary actor he was.


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