7.4/10
2,315
32 user 24 critic

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...

Director:

Writer:

Reviews

On TV

Airs Fri. Sep. 02, 3:15 AM on TCM

ON DISC
Won 1 Oscar. See more awards »
Learn more

People who liked this also liked... 

Certificate: Passed Comedy | Romance
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.5/10 X  

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 »

Director: Preston Sturges
Stars: Dick Powell, Ellen Drew, Raymond Walburn
Comedy | Romance | War
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.9/10 X  

After an all-night send-off party for the troops, a small-town girl wakes up to find herself married and pregnant, but with no memory of her husband's identity.

Director: Preston Sturges
Stars: Eddie Bracken, Betty Hutton, Diana Lynn
Certificate: Passed Comedy | War
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.8/10 X  

Woodrow is discharged from the military for hay fever, but fabricates receiving an heroic honorable discharge before returning home.

Director: Preston Sturges
Stars: Eddie Bracken, Ella Raines, Raymond Walburn
Certificate: Passed Biography | Comedy | Drama
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.3/10 X  

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.

Director: Preston Sturges
Stars: Joel McCrea, Betty Field, Harry Carey
Certificate: Passed Romance | Comedy
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.7/10 X  

An inventor needs cash to develop his big idea. His wife, who loves him, decides to raise it for him by divorcing him and marrying a millionaire.

Director: Preston Sturges
Stars: Claudette Colbert, Joel McCrea, Mary Astor
The Lady Eve (1941)
Comedy | Romance
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8/10 X  

A trio of classy card sharps targets the socially awkward heir to brewery millions for his money, till one of them falls in love with him.

Director: Preston Sturges
Stars: Barbara Stanwyck, Henry Fonda, Charles Coburn
Comedy | Music | Romance
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.7/10 X  

Set to music, a symphony conductor envisions multiple possible scenarios for dealing with his wife's infidelity.

Director: Preston Sturges
Stars: Rex Harrison, Linda Darnell, Rudy Vallee
Comedy
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.9/10 X  

Twenty years after his triumphs as a freshman on the football field, Harold is a mild-mannered clerk who dreams about marrying the girl at the desk down the aisle. But losing his job ... See full summary »

Director: Preston Sturges
Stars: Harold Lloyd, Frances Ramsden, Jimmy Conlin
Adventure | Comedy | Drama
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8.1/10 X  

A director of escapist films goes on the road as a hobo to learn about life, which gives him a rude awakening.

Director: Preston Sturges
Stars: Joel McCrea, Veronica Lake, Robert Warwick
Comedy
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.3/10 X  

Major Thompson, an Englishman living in France, comments in his memoirs on the peculiarities of his French wife and friends.

Director: Preston Sturges
Stars: Jack Buchanan, Martine Carol, Noël-Noël
Comedy | Western
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.2/10 X  

Temperamental saloon singer Freddie Jones, jealously shoots at her cheating boyfriend Blackie but mistakenly hits Judge Alfalfa J. O'Toole's honorable behind, forcing her to skip town under the guise of a schoolteacher.

Director: Preston Sturges
Stars: Betty Grable, Cesar Romero, Rudy Vallee
Comedy | Drama
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.4/10 X  

An industrialist is urged to run for President, but this requires uncomfortable compromises on both political and marital levels.

Director: Frank Capra
Stars: Spencer Tracy, Katharine Hepburn, Van Johnson
Edit

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
Edit

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:

Approved | See all certifications »
Edit

Details

Country:

Language:

|

Release Date:

23 August 1940 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Biograhy of a Bum  »

Company Credits

Production Co:

 »
Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

(Western Electric Mirrophonic Recording)

Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
See  »
Edit

Did You Know?

Trivia

Sturges got the idea for this film from a Chicago area judge who shared stories with him about city elections. 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

Prologue: "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."
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
See more »

Frequently Asked Questions

This FAQ is empty. Add the first question.

User Reviews

 
"This Is A Land of Opportunity"
17 February 2007 | by (Buffalo, New York) – See all my reviews

In his debut as a director Preston Sturges turned in one of the brightest political satires ever done for the cinema in The Great McGinty. Sturges allegedly got the idea for the film and the various scenes therein from talking to a judge from Chicago who filled them in one the various shenanigans pulled there back in the day and still being pulled in some parts of the USA.

Preston Sturges though he had a successful Broadway play, The Good Fairy, and had written several sparkling screenplays for Paramount, the moguls that ran Paramount were a bit uneasy about giving him his own film to direct as well as act. The Great McGinty was a B film when it was released, playing the lower half of double features. It had a competent cast of players, but none of them you could say were big box office.

Imagine the surprise the following year when The Great McGinty won an Oscar for Preston Sturges, not for directing, but for Best Original Screenplay in 1940. The Great McGinty returned a tidy profit for a film they had not spent all that much money on. Sturges was given greater autonomy and control after that and for the next four years turned out a series of comedy classics with much larger budgets. But he was in constant warfare with the money people at Paramount for the rest of the time he was there.

The film is told in flashback as Brian Donlevy as a philosophical bartender tells a distraught Louis Jean Heydt his life story after preventing Heydt from shooting himself. There both in an unnamed South American country without extradition to the USA.

Donlevy was the epitome of the American dream as Preston Sturges sees the American dream. In Sturges's view any bum with nerve enough to seize opportunity before him, there's no telling how far he can go in America.

When we meet Donlevy he's exactly that, a hobo. He's on a soup line and ready to earn a few bucks by being a repeat voter for some people who for one reason or other are still on the voting rolls, but just can't make it to the polls. By earning $74.00 a vote by voting 37 times at $2.00 a vote, he comes to the attention of boss Akim Tamiroff.

Though they are immediate antagonists, Tamiroff sees potential in Donlevy and he begins a great political career and then has a very big fall.

Preston Sturges was starting to assemble his stock company of players who were in most of his films at Paramount, like William Demarest, Jimmy Conlin, Robert Grieg, etc. Although Sturges was only at Paramount for four years his stock company rivaled that of John Ford for that brief period.

Seen 67 years after its debut, The Great McGinty is a fresh as the day it was first made. It's dated in that the political bosses like Akim Tamiroff are not what they used to be in the age of information. Still though the ethics or lack thereof are still present in the age of television and the internet.


13 of 16 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you?

Message Boards

Recent Posts
McGinty On DVD? j-pudwill
I thought Brownie was the real star kjewitt
Touching Movie! gulhatt
Voter Fraud? killgrave
To the meddling elves at IMDb valis1984
Discuss The Great McGinty (1940) on the IMDb message boards »

Contribute to This Page

Create a character page for:
?