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George Roy Hill
Told in flashback, Depression-era bum Dan McGinty is recruited by the city's political machine to help with vote fraud. His great aptitude for this brings rapid promotion from "the boss," who finally decides he'd be ideal as a new, nominally "reform" mayor; but this candidacy requires marriage. His in-name-only marriage to honest Catherine proves the beginning of the end for dishonest Dan... Written by
Rod Crawford <email@example.com>
In his victory parade as governor, McGinty rides in a car and it is clear he does not have a mustache. In the next scene, which takes place the same day at the state capitol, he has a mustache. See more »
"This is the story of two men who met in a banana republic. One of them never did anything dishonest in his life except for one crazy minute. The other never did anything honest in his life except for one crazy minute. They both had to get out of the country."
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Brian Donlevy is "The Great McGinty" in this 1940 film written and directed by Preston Sturges. The film also stars two men who would become part of the Sturges group of actors, Akim Tamiroff and William Demarest. Muriel Angelus plays McGinty's wife.
Sturges always had interesting beginnings - or ends - to his films. This one begins: One man was always evil and had a moment of honesty; another man was always good and had a moment of evil. They both had to leave the country (paraphrasing). In a foreign country, a bartender tells his story to a suicidal man, an embezzler whom he has just saved, and a woman who works at the establishment. His story is a wild one - he was once governor of a state. As the story unfolds, McGinty - that's the man's name - was a hobo when he was paid $2 to vote to get a man into office. He voted 37 times and attracted the attention of a crooked political boss (Tamiroff) who gets him elected as alderman, mayor, and finally puts him up for governor. Along the way, he marries his secretary (Angelus) in order to have the appearance of a stable, good man. It's a marriage of convenience - she has two children and a dachshund. But he falls in love with all of them, and with her encouragement, decides to turn his back on the graft and the stealing and start thinking of the people. That's when he gets into trouble.
"The Great McGinty" isn't a crazy comedy like "The Miracle of Morgan's Creek" or "The Palm Beach Story." The humor comes out of the fact that this bum rises to the office of mayor and locks horns with the big boss. The best scenes are between Tamiroff and Donlevy, who work beautifully together, particularly when they're trying to kill one another. Though one of the last scenes is a sad one, Sturges gives us our smiles back with the last moments of the film.
Brian Donlevy, who is usually in a supporting role, does a terrific job as McGinty - tough and belligerent, but with a kind side even he didn't know he had. Donlevy repeated his role of McGinty in "The Miracle of Morgan's Creek" in a cameo. Muriel Angelus, a British leading lady who retired to raise a family in 1946, is lovely as Mrs. McGinty, who never wanted to get married again and then falls in love with her husband. Tamiroff makes a powerful "Boss" who has a volatile relationship with his puppet, who sometimes gets out of his strings. An excellent movie that pokes fun at political machinery and behind the scenes plotting. It also shows us what can happen when a little love comes into our lives.
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