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The Great McGinty (1940)

Approved  |   |  Comedy  |  23 August 1940 (USA)
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Ratings: 7.5/10 from 2,226 users  
Reviews: 32 user | 24 critic

Dan McGinty has great success in his chosen field of crooked politics. But endangers it all in one crazy moment of honesty...



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Cast overview, first billed only:
Muriel Angelus ...
Catherine McGinty
Allyn Joslyn ...
Skeeters - The Politician
Louis Jean Heydt ...
Tommy Thompson
Harry Rosenthal ...
Louie (bodyguard)
Arthur Hoyt ...
Libby Taylor ...
Bessy (maid)
Thurston Hall ...
Mr. Maxwell
Steffi Duna ...
The Dancing Girl
Esther Howard ...
Madame Juliette La Jolla
Frank Moran ...
The Boss' Chauffeur (as Frank C. Moran)
Jimmy Conlin ...
The Lookout
Dewey Robinson ...
Benny Felgman


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 <>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


WHATTA GUY! He loved a fight or a frolic...and he usually found one! (original ad) See more »




Approved | See all certifications »





Release Date:

23 August 1940 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Biograhy of a Bum  »

Company Credits

Production Co:

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs


Sound Mix:

(Western Electric Mirrophonic Recording)

Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
See  »

Did You Know?


On August 19, 1939, Paramount issued a check to contract writer Preston Sturges to buy the story and screenplay of this movie, in the amount of $10. Sturges promised to sell the script for that amount if he could direct. The studio took him up on it and the film was a hit and won an Academy Award for the screenplay, probably making it the cheapest Oscar-winning script in history. See more »


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 »


Skeeters: If it wasn't for graft, you'd get a very low type of people in politics. Men without ambition. Jellyfish.
Catherine: Especially since you can't rob the people anyway.
Skeeters: Sure. How was that?
Catherine: What you rob, you spend, and what you spend goes back to the people. So, where's the robbery? I read that in one of my father's books.
Skeeters: That book should be in every home.
See more »


Written by Richard A. Whiting and Leo Robin
Played on piano
See more »

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User Reviews

Preston Sturges makes his mark
24 November 2010 | by (United States) – See all my reviews

Government corruption may not be a laughing matter, but writer director Preston Sturges made some of his funniest comedies from the most unlikely material, and he smartly lampooned the political process in his big screen directing debut. Brian Donlevy is the title character, a less than scrupulous bum elected to the State Governor's office under the patronage of underworld boss Akim Tamiroff and, in a clever reversal of the usual formula, reformed by the responsibilities of public office. But the Governor's newfound honesty spells the end of his fledgling political career because, as McGinty himself so eloquently says, "you can't make a silk purse out of a pig's ear". The film lacks the madcap pace and eccentric characters of later Sturges classics, but compensates with plenty of rich satire (says big boss Tamiroff: "if it weren't for graft you'd get a very low type of person in government…") and an unusual romantic subplot decades ahead of its time. After more than half a century Sturges' wit and originality is still invigorating, not unlike a bracing slap in the face.

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