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The Great McGinty (1940)

Approved | | Comedy | 23 August 1940 (USA)
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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Won 1 Oscar. See more awards »
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An office clerk loves entering contests in the hopes of someday winning a fortune and marrying the girl he loves. His latest attempt is the Maxford House Coffee Slogan Contest. As a joke, ... See full summary »

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The biography of Dr. W. T. Morgan, a 19th century Boston dentist, during his quest to have anesthesia, in the form of ether, accepted by the public and the medical and dental establishment.

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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
...
...
Catherine McGinty
...
...
George
...
Skeeters - The Politician
...
Tommy Thompson
Harry Rosenthal ...
Louie (bodyguard)
Arthur Hoyt ...
Libby Taylor ...
Bessy (maid)
...
Mr. Maxwell
...
The Dancing Girl
Esther Howard ...
Madame Juliette La Jolla
Frank Moran ...
The Boss' Chauffeur (as Frank C. Moran)
Jimmy Conlin ...
The Lookout
...
Benny Felgman
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Storyline

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 <puffinus@u.washington.edu>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

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HE'LL TAKE YOU...and MAKE YOU LAUGH! (original poster) See more »

Genres:

Comedy

Certificate:

Approved | See all certifications »
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Details

Country:

Language:

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Release Date:

23 August 1940 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Biograhy of a Bum  »

Company Credits

Production Co:

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Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

(Western Electric Mirrophonic Recording)

Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
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Did You Know?

Trivia

One of over 700 Paramount Productions, filmed between 1929 and 1949, which were sold to MCA/Universal in 1958 for television distribution, and have been owned and controlled by Universal ever since. See more »

Goofs

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 »

Quotes

Dan McGinty: [to the Politician about getting paid for multiple voting] Never mind the applesauce. How do I get the bucks?
See more »

Connections

Featured in 100 Years of Comedy (1997) See more »

Soundtracks

Louise
Written by Richard A. Whiting and Leo Robin
Played on piano
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User Reviews

 
Preston Sturges' satire on political corruption is unevenly paced, but with Akim Tamiroff as "The Boss," it is a lot of fun.
17 November 1998 | by (Pine Grove, California) – See all my reviews

Preston Sturges couldn't get any studio interested in doing his "Story of a Man," nor could he even get it published when it was retitled "Biography of a Bum," so he offered it to Paramount for $10 on condition he could direct it. It was an offer the studio bosses couldn't refuse and it paved the way for other writers, such as John Huston, to take control of their own work by directing its film production. The script, which won an Academy Award for Best Original Screenplay, has some extremely funny moments, with almost all of them involving Akim Tamiroff, who steals the movie as "The Boss," the man who pulls the political strings in the entire state. He is the perfect counterpoint to the rather bland Brian Donlevy, who is in the title role, as a bum who votes thirty seven times in an election for mayor to get the two dollars per vote. This makes a deep impression on Tamiroff, who likes his chutzpa, and eventually runs him for alderman, then mayor, and finally governor. The pace of the film is slow at its start, but picks up when Donlevy starts his story (in flashback) until he's elected mayor, and then slows down again. The condition that he marry to win any election begins his downfall, because he marries his secretary, Muriel Angelus, who wants him to do great things and eliminate the graft in politics. Although it's a marriage of convenience, he falls in love and wants to please her. And you see what she means when Tamiroff is all smiles as he says, greeting the new governor: "What a wonderful opportunity. This state needs everything. ... We'll need - you'll kiss me for this - a new dam. ... You think a dam is something you put a lot of water in. A dam is something you put a lot of concrete in. And it doesn't matter how much you put in there's always room for a lot more. ..." The level of writing is first rate, but I wish there were no flashbacks in the screenplay construction, since you know how it ends from the start. I've always felt the flashback construction in nine out of ten films is detrimental to their enjoyment. The supporting cast includes William Demarest, who has the classic line "If you didn't have graft, you'd have a lower class of people in politics!" Muriel Angelus was and is a relatively unknown actress who quit making movies after 1940. Sturges had severe budget constraints and couldn't use high salaried actors, which would have benfited the film.


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