The Great McGinty (1940

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This is the story of two men who met in a banana republic. One of them was honest all his life except one crazy minute. The other was dishonest all his life except one crazy minute. They both had to get out of the country. -Prologue to The Great McGinty The Politician (William Demarest): If it wasn't for graft, you'd get a very low type of people in politics. Men without ambition. Jellyfish! Catherine McGinty (Muriel Angelus): Especially since you can't rob the people anyway. The Politician: Sure! ... How was that? Catherine McGinty: What you rob, you spend, and what you spend goes back to the people, so where's the robbery? I read that in one of my father's books. The Politician: That book should be in every home! Called Down Went McGinty in the UK. Other working titles included, “The Story of a Man,” “The Vagrant,” “The Mantle of Dignity,” and “The Biography of a Bum.” Spencer Tracy was briefly attached as the lead. McGinty is based on the career of William “Plain Bill” Sulzer, the only governor of New York ever to be impeached. He died a year after the film was released. According to Wikipedia: A few months into his term, Sulzer was alleged to have diverted campaign contributions to his own use and to have lied. Sulzer had enjoyed Tammany Hall support as the Democratic candidate for Governor in 1912, but he quickly drew the ire of the powerful leader of that New York City organization, Charles F. Murphy, by refusing to accept party instructions on appointments, by seeking primary elections rather than nominating by convention, and other actions. Sulzer and many historians later affirmed that the impeachment charges were made under instructions from Murphy, to remove him as an obstacle to Tammany Hall's influence in State politics. Although the original story for McGinty was written in 1933, but the film can be seen as a response to Frank Capra’s Mr. Smith Goes to Washington (1939). “The Boss,” played by Russian/Georgian Akim Tamiroff, is considered a model for Rocky & Bullwinkle’s Boris Badenoff. The opening survey of the bar is repeated almost identically in the opening scene of Hail the Conquering Hero.

Preston Sturges
From very early on, Edmund Preston Biden would have the opportunity to observe the lifestyle of the Chicago upper class at close range, but he was not born into a family of means. His father was a debt collector with a marked affinity for alcohol, but his mother, despite or because of her humble background, would soon show a knack for social advancement. His parents divorced when he was still an infant, and she married stockbroker Solomon Sturges, whom Preston for many years believed to be his biological father. His childhood was characterised by an almost total lack of familial stability, not least due to his mother's capricious and adventurous nature. Close friend of the controversial dancer and choreographer Isadora Duncan, she lived a life of flamboyant decadence. At an early age, Preston was therefore exposed to such extraordinary individuals as artist Marcel Duchamp and occultist Aleister Crowley. His mother's freewheeling ways lead him to Europe, where he received his early education at fine schools (in Germany, Switzerland and France). At 16, he was made manager in the family cosmetics business. America intervened in World War One in April 1917, and Sturges belatedly joined the Air Force, but the war ended before he could put his training to use. After the armistice, he was back to the cosmetics business as well as part-timing as an inventor. His contributions in this field, with a certain emphasis on car accessories, may have tended towards the quixotic and the fanciful, but also strongly suggested the scope of the young man's creative and imaginative powers, as well as his sense of ambition. Among his ideas was a contraption that bore no slight resemblance to what would later become the helicopter. It is a widespread misconception, that Sturges' career as a playwright was due to the following incident: on the eve of December 19, 1927, he was taken ill with severe stomach pains and an emergency appendectomy was performed, leaving him hospitalised for the ensuing month and a half. This indeed happened, but it was not the boredom of the sickbed which prompted him to begin working on stage plays, great story though that would be. In fact, the truth is even better and it certainly goes some way in illuminating the enduring streak of cynicism in Sturges' oeuvre: he was dating a young actress and playwright only to find out that her interest in him was strictly professional as she considered him a stimulating character to be around. After he had served the purpose of inspiring her, she left him. Infuriated by her duplicity, he channelled his frustration into the tellingly entitled play The Guinea Pig. -From Senses of Cinema by Jonas Varsted Kirkegaard Prime period is 1940 to 1944, consisting of seven films: The Great McGinty, Christmas in July, The Lady Eve, Sullivan’s Travels, The Palm Beach Story, The Miracle of Morgan’s Creek, and Hail the Conquering Hero. When his restaurant, The Players, was shut down by the IRS in 1953, he wrote in a letter: “I had so very much for so very long, it is quite natural for the pendulum to swing the other way for a while, and I really cannot and will not complain.”

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