7.5/10
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34 user 25 critic

The Great McGinty (1940)

Passed | | 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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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
...
...
...
...
...
...
Tommy Thompson
Harry Rosenthal ...
Louie - The Boss' Bodyguard
...
Mayor Wilfred H. Tillinghast
Libby Taylor ...
Bessy - The Colored Maid
...
Mr. Maxwell
...
The Dancing Girl
...
Madame Juliette La Jolla
...
The Boss' Chauffeur (as Frank C. Moran)
Jimmy Conlin ...
The Lookout - At Felgman's
...
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

Taglines:

The SCREEN SURPRISE of the YEAR! It's the laffiest, daffiest film fun you have ever screamed at! (original ad) See more »

Genres:

Comedy

Certificate:

Passed | See all certifications »
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Details

Country:

Language:

|

Release Date:

23 August 1940 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Biograhy of a Bum  »

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Box Office

Budget:

$350,000 (estimated)
See more on IMDbPro »

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. Its initial television broadcast took place in Chicago Thursday 5 March 1959 on WBBM (Channel 2); it soon became a local favorite as it was first aired in Milwaukee 7 April 1959 on WITI (Channel 6), in Seattle 8 July 1959 on KIRO (Channel 7), in Phoenix 17 August 1959 on KVAR (Channel 12), in Los Angeles 23 September 1959 on KNXT (Channel 2), in Minneapolis 18 October 1959 on WTCN (Channel 11), in Toledo 31 October 1959 on WTOL (Channel 11), in Johnstown 15 November 1959 on WJAC (Channel 6), in Asheville 29 November 1959 on WLOS (Channel 13), in Pittsburgh 15 February 1960, and, finally, in New York City 8 July 1960 on WCBS (Channel 2). It was first released on DVD 21 November 2006 as one of seven titles in Universal's Preston Sturges - The Filmmaker Collection, and again 15 November 2016 as a single as one of the Universal Vault Series. Since that time, it's also had occasional airings on Turner Classic Movies. 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

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 »

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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Frequently Asked Questions

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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 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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