[Note: The following review is of a non-Guide for the Film Fanatic title; click here to read more.]
“You’ve got to understand, honey: no man is strong enough to buck the party, no matter how much he wants to make his wife happy.”
A homeless man (Brian Donlevy) hired by a crime boss (Akim Tamiroff) to cast illegal votes quickly climbs the political ladder, becoming alderman, then mayor, then governor; but when his new wife (Muriel Angelus) encourages him to go straight, Tamiroff is anything but pleased.
- Character Arc
- Flashback Films
- Political Corruption
- Preston Sturges Films
Notable as the first film Preston Sturges helmed himself, rather than simply scripting, The Great McGinty is a puzzling omission from Peary’s GFTFF, given that he lists or reviews all of Sturges’ other major directorial titles. In addition to being of historical interest, it remains an enjoyably pointed satire, one which clearly displays Sturges’ genius with utilizing dark humor to convey incisive political and social commentary. It’s finely acted by Donlevy (an inspired casting choice) and Tamiroff (never better), and moves along at a steady pace, neatly showing us Donlevy’s rise and fall via a strategic flashback framework (opening, closing, and intermittent scenes are set in the seedy barroom of a “Banana republic”). The moral of the story remains deeply cynical, but there’s no denying that Sturges had his pulse on the true nature of power and corruption in America. What’s most disturbing is how ultimately realistic — and modern — this story still feels. My only minor quibble with the film is how instantly forgettable Muriel Angelus is as Donlevy’s secretary-turned-wife; she’s serviceable but not much more. (Interestingly, this was her last film before she disappeared off the cinematic radar.)
Redeeming Qualities and Moments:
- Brian Donlevy as Dan McGinty
- Akim Tamiroff as “The Boss”
- Sturges’ cleverly satirical script
Yes, as Sturges’ first directorial effort.