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The Great McGinty (Down Went McGinty) (1940)



Average Rating: 7.6/10
Critic Reviews: 5
Fresh: 5 | Rotten: 0

No consensus yet.



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Average Rating: 3.9/5
User Ratings: 586

My Rating

Movie Info

The moral of Preston Sturges' first directorial effort The Great McGinty seems to be: If you're a crook, stay a crook, because honesty will get ya every time. Brian Donlevy plays Dan McGinty, a Chicago hobo who is hired by local political bosses as a "professional voter", casting ballots under a variety of assumed names in various districts. McGinty chalks up $74 worth of votes, and when local ward heeler William Demarest can't pony up, McGinty takes direct action by trying to beat up The Boss


Classics, Comedy

Preston Sturges

Nov 21, 2006

MCA Universal Home Video

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All Critics (20) | Top Critics (5) | Fresh (19) | Rotten (0) | DVD (2)

Sturges displays plenty of ability in accentuating both the comedy and dramatic elements of his material, withal maintaining a consistent pace in the unreeling.

November 13, 2007 Full Review Source: Variety
Top Critic IconTop Critic

A wonderfully dry satire.

June 24, 2006 Full Review Source: Time Out
Time Out
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You won't make a mistake, believe us, if you stuff the ballot-box for The Great McGinty.

May 20, 2003 Full Review Source: New York Times
New York Times
Top Critic IconTop Critic

Preston Sturges's first film as writer-director (1940) and one of his most cynical comedies -- a cut below his best work, but that doesn't mean you shouldn't see it.

January 1, 2000 Full Review Source: Chicago Reader
Chicago Reader
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The perfect fusion of Sturges's wit and frenzy.

January 1, 2000 Full Review Source: Chicago Reader
Chicago Reader
Top Critic IconTop Critic

The evolution from hoodlum to governor: 'You got to crawl before you can creep, right?'

April 14, 2010 Full Review Source: CinePassion

The trademark Sturges dialogue is in rare form here, each character armed with a quiver full of tart jabs and put-downs.

January 12, 2007 Full Review Source:

It's the kind of ironical film Capra wouldn't or couldn't make.

August 2, 2006 Full Review Source: Ozus' World Movie Reviews
Ozus' World Movie Reviews

Deliciously biting political satire.

October 21, 2004
Movie Mom at Yahoo! Movies

As a political comedy, it's far-fetched but certainly engaging.

May 24, 2003 Full Review Source: Film4

Sturges' directorial debut is a little rough around the edges, but still good.

March 12, 2003
Mountain Xpress (Asheville, NC)

Donlevy isn't Sturges' most appealing lead, but he'll do, and Tamiroff really works it as his patron, the Boss.

March 10, 2003 Full Review Source: Austin Chronicle
Austin Chronicle

A classic, cynical comedy about politics and corruption; still pertinent today.

January 19, 2003
Journal and Courier (Lafayette, IN)

Minor Sturges.

November 22, 2002
San Francisco Examiner

not "Lady Eve"-caliber Preston Sturges, but well worth viewing

July 29, 2002
Kalamazoo Gazette

Audience Reviews for The Great McGinty (Down Went McGinty)

The Great McGinty was Preston Sturges' directorial debut; he famously sold the script - which went on to win him an Oscar - to Paramount for $10, on the condition that he could direct the movie himself. In a seedy bar in a banana republic, Dan McGinty (Brian Donlevy) recalls his meteoric rise (and spectacular fall) from bum to racketeer, to crooked mayor, to honest state governor and back to bum again. By staging his story as a post-catastrophic flashback from skid row, Sturges neatly undermines the sentimentality and predictability of McGinty's romance with Catherine (Muriel Angelus), the secretary he marries out of convenience, but the lack of a Happy Ending makes the picture oddly unsatisfying. This problem is emphasised by the economical running time; clocking in at a little over 80 minutes, McGinty's end credits begin to roll at about the time we would typically anticipate that final twist enabling the leads to live happily ever after.
March 27, 2009

Super Reviewer

An historic movie as it's probably the first one done by a writer/director, Preston Sturges. The Great McGinty stars off with enough of the trademarked Sturges dialogue and humor (namely with McGinty's suit) as it tells the tale of a dishonest hobo turned mayor turned governor who eventually ends up down the drain for going honest. It takes itself a little too seriously at times but when it's funny it's really on. It also acts as a sneak preview to what would be coming down the pipeline from Sturges. You can see his style emerging and beginning to take the shape of something great.
December 4, 2007

Super Reviewer

    1. The Politician: If it weren't for graft, you'd get a very low type of people in politics.
    – Submitted by Chris P (3 years ago)
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