Monday, October 13, 2008

The Great McGinty

The Great McGinty; Comedy, USA, 1940; D: Preston Sturges, S: Brian Donlevy, Muriel Angelus, Akim Tamiroff

In some banana republic, barkeeper Dan McGinty saves the life of a banker in some bar. In order to cheer him up, McGinty tells him about his life: he was once just an ordinary bum who one day got a job from a company - go to vote for the mayor during the election in order to get 2 $! But McGinty voted 37 times all over the town and earned quite a fortune and also seized the attention of the criminal Boss who hires him as a debt collector, and then even into a (corrupted) mayor. But McGinty got married to the moral Catherine and decided to become an honest governor. Because of that, he landed in jail but ran away and settled in some banana republic.

"The Great McGinty" is an interesting directorial debut by the famous Preston Sturges who even managed to win an Oscar for it for best screenplay, but because of the thinly exploited potentials of the story maybe it would have been more justified if the statue went to Chaplin's "Dictator". The film by the overhyped Sturges functions brilliantly as a political satire at the beginning, but somewhere around the middle, when it starts to focus and revolve around the marriage and the family life of the title hero, it crosses into a soap opera and becomes overstretched. The best parts of "McGinty" are precisely those when it's pure political satire (the joke where McGinty accepts a "job" of voting for a corrupted mayor for 2 $, but uses his brain and actually votes 37 times (!) around the city and surprises even his crooked boss with his genius; the scene where the Boss says: "Look at this place! These politicians were so honest their whole office started to fall apart!" is gold) and thus it's not clear why the story threw it out in the end and embraced the sappy marital segment.


No comments: