Thursday, April 05, 2007

Man of the People

Movie: The Great McGinty (1940)
Setting: Unspecified

Screenwriter Preston Struges first time behind the directors chair isn't the type of screwball comedy that would mark his five year Renaissance. In fact McGinty is more the sort of social consciousness picture that the director vicariously longed to make in Sullivan's Travels. Brian Donlevy is elevated from the bread lines to the governors mansion by way of an eastern European born political boss (Akim Tamiroff). A dishonest man all his life McGinty is inspired by his wife (Muriel Adams in her last screen performance, though she lived until 2004) to change his ways and really try to help people with his political power. However a bridge built on graft while he was serving as mayor comes back to haunt him. Jailed McGinty determines he simply can not risk a life in prison, and escapes with his former political boss to a Latin American country. This film starts out with a suicide attempt and somehow manages to leave off on an even lower emotional note, dispite some mostly unsuccessful comedy in between. Well at least Sturges got better, much better, and don't let this review turn you off from his work.

Factoid: Donlevy would play McGinty again in a cameo in the later Sturges comedy The Miracle of Morgans Creek, though technically this doesn't jive with the chronology of the earlier film.


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