The Great McGinty

The Great McGinty

Infobox Film
name = The Great McGinty

image_size = 215px
caption = UK theatrical poster
director = Preston Sturges
producer = Buddy G. DeSylva "(uncredited)"
writer = Preston Sturges
starring = Brian Donlevy
Muriel Angelus
Akim Tamiroff
music = Frederick Hollander
John Leipold "(uncredited)"
cinematography = William C. Mellor
editing = Hugh Bennett
distributor = Paramount Pictures
released = August 15, fy|1940
"(NYC premiere})"
August 23 "(general)"
runtime = 83 minutes
country = FilmUS
language = English
budget = $350,000
gross =
imdb_id = 0032554

"The Great McGinty" is a fy|1940 political satire comedy film written and directed by Preston Sturges, starring Brian Donlevy and Akim Tamiroff and featuring William Demarest and Muriel Angelus. It was Sturges's first film as a director; he sold the story to Paramount Pictures for just $10 on condition he direct the film. Sturges went on to win the Academy Award for Writing Original Screenplay.

In the U.K. the film was retitled "Down Went McGinty".


Dan McGinty (Brian Donlevy) is a tramp who, cajoled into voting under a false name in order to get $2, impresses a local political boss (Akim Tamiroff) by voting thirty-seven times in a rigged mayoral election. McGinty becomes one of the boss's enforcers, then his political protégé, wins the mayor's job as a "reform" candidate, then goes on to the governor's mansion before a change of heart compels him to take public service seriously.


Cast notes:
*Both Brian Donlevy and Akim Tamiroff reprised their roles in Sturges' fy|1944 comedy "The Miracle of Morgan's Creek".
*This was the first film directed by Preston Sturges, and in it he used many of the actor who would become, over time, part of his unofficial "stock company", a troupe of character actors within the studio system. Appearing in "McGinty" are: George Anderson, Jimmy Conlin, William Demarest, Byron Foulger, Harry Hayden, Esther Howard, Arthur Hoyt, George Melford, Charles R. Moore, Frank Moran, Emory Parnell, Victor Potel, Dewey Robinson, Harry Rosenthal and Robert Warwick.
*This was the third film written by Preston Sturges that William Demarest appeared in, after "Diamond Jim" (fy|1935) and "Easy Living" (fy|1937), and he would go on to do seven others (see note). ["Christmas in July" (1940), "Sullivan's Travels" (fy|1941), "The Lady Eve" (1941), "The Palm Beach Story" (fy|1942), "The Miracle of Morgan's Creek" (1944), "Hail the Conquering Hero" (fy|1944) and "The Great Moment" (1944).]
*Jo Ann Sayers was originally scheduled to play "Catherine McGinty", and was borrowed from MGM, but she was not found to be satisfactory and was replaced.


"The Great McGinty" had numerous working titles: "The Story of a Man", "The Vagrant", "The Mantle of Dignity", "The Biography of a Bum", and "Down Went McGinty", which was used for the film's release in the U.K. Sturges had written the original story, "The Story of a Man", in 1933 with Spencer Tracy in mind. According to film historian Kevin Brownlow, Sturges was inspired by the career of William Sulzer, who was impeached and removed from office as governor of New York.

After trying to sell the story to Universal in 1935, and the "Saturday Evening Post" in 1938 under the title "Biography of a Bum", Sturges finally sold it to Paramount on August 19 fy|1939 for $10 on the condition that he be allowed to direct it.TCM [ Notes] ] Sturges at that time was the highest paid screenwriter in Hollywood,Feaster, Felicia [ "The Great McGinty" (TCM article)] ] so it's not surpising that Paramount agreed, but they also covered themselves by giving Sturges a modest budget of $350,000, a three-week shooting schedule, and inexpensive stars to work with. [Erickson, Hal [ Plot synopsis (Allmovie)] ]

Production on the film was delayed to allow Akim Tamiroff to do "The Way of All Flesh", but it began on December 15 fy|1939. Sturges contracted pneumonia during filming, and required a nurse to attend to him on the set. Production stopped on January 25 fy|1940 with one day's shooting left to do, which was accomplished on April 15, after the first cut of the film had already been made.

"The Great McGinty" premiered in New York City on 15 August 1940, and was generally released on 23 August. [IMDB [ Release dates] ] It was released on video in the U.S. on April 7 1988, and re-released on June 30 1993.


Brian Donlevy appeared in a "Philip Morris Playhouse" radio adaptation in 1942 on the CBS radio network. Donlevy also appeared in a television adaptation on "Lux Video Theeatre", broadcast on 28 April 1955, with Thomas Gomez and Jesse White. The director was Earl Eby and Preston Sturges' screenplay was adapted by S.H. Barnett. [imdb title|0637879|Lux Video Theatre: The Great McGinty]

Paramount considered a remake of the film starring Bing Crosby in fy|1950, and in fy|1954 with Bob Hope, but decided against both.

Awards and influence

Prestin Sturges won the fy|1940 Academy Award for "Best Original Screenplay" for "The Great McGinty", which was named as one of the "10 Best Films of 1940" by both the "New York Times" and "Film Daily". [Allmovie [ Awards] ]

Tamiroff's malaprop-laced performance inspired the cartoon character Boris Badenov, the male half of the villainous husband-and-wife team Boris and Natasha on "The Rocky and Bullwinkle Show".

ee also

Dialogue from the film


External links


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