A hilarious spoof of American politics, this film marked the directorial debut of the mercurial and brilliant Preston Sturges, one of the best writer-directors of the 1940s. While this film never reaches the giddy heights of some of his subsequent films, THE GREAT MCGINTY was a favorable
harbinger of the therapeutic madness to come.
The film opens in a smoky banana-republic bar largely patronized, it seems, by Americans on the lam. One such denizen, Thompson (Heydt), is a one-time chief cashier of a major bank turned embezzler. Now dejected from hiding out in this steamy exile, he attempts suicide in the men's room but he's
stopped by the bartender, Dan McGinty (Donlevy). McGinty has an even more ignominious tale to tell: he used to be governor of a state! His strange story unravels in flashback.
McGinty begins as a seedy hobo looking for a quick buck. During an election in a major city, he's hired by a slick politician (Demarest) to vote repeatedly using the names of dead citizens. He proves to be an overzealous participant in the democratic process, voting dozens of times at an expected
$2 per vote but the politico is unable to come across with the dough. McGinty remains persistent. He's taken to the party hall where The Boss (Tamiroff) is so taken with the bum's moxie that he appoints him a collector of funds in his protection racket. McGinty proves himself a born collector and
he continues moving up the ladder of crime until he is finally ready for the big time--politics.
Donlevy, in an early starring role, gives a marvelous performance as a dim-witted bum who's transformed into a polished politician. The flamboyant Tamiroff's rendering of the boss is a comic delight. Demarest is colorful and full of street savvy and wit, once remarking: "If you didn't have graft,
you'd have a lower class of people in politics!" This terrific satire was the brainchild of screenwriter Sturges, who, by the time he penned this script, was the highest-paid writer in Hollywood, having written films such as EASY LIVING and DIAMOND JIM.
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- Rating: NR
- Review: A hilarious spoof of American politics, this film marked the directorial debut of the mercurial and brilliant Preston Sturges, one of the best writer-directors of the 1940s. While this film never reaches the giddy heights of some of his subsequent films, T… (more)