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Friday, May 14, 2021

My Dear Friend Oscar: The Great McGinty

Photo Courtesy of Paramount Pictures

The 1940 classic, The Great McGinty, sets the tone for the rest of the film immediately by laying out the premise right away. “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,” This text is followed by a surprisingly modern movie about a man going from bum, to governor and finally to fugitive working in a bar, reciting his past life. It is a fun, emotional and beautiful film that captures what life was like in a 1940 America.

This film won an Oscar for the best original screenplay on the debut year of that category. Being such a well thought out story, I am honestly surprised that it is an original because most of the time, movies are based off of past work, such as a book, or even a short story. However this film, among countless others throughout history, was conceived and written with the sole intention of it being a movie.

What The Great McGinty does so well, especially when viewing it now, as opposed to back in 1940, is that it actually ages extremely well. Most classics cannot say the same, and become boring movies to those accustomed to modern day cinema, even if they were some of the best during their time. This movie, however, has a style and a spirit that proves successful 70 years after its original release.

I am not a huge fan of classic movies although I have a few here and there that I can watch, but there has never been any that I would feel comfortable recommending to people I know, until now. I honestly think that if you give it the attention it deserves, this movie will be liked by anyone that can appreciate a good story.

This was the first nomination and win for writer and director Preston Sturges. He was nominated twice in 1944 for two of his original screenplays for, Hail the Conquering Hero and The Miracle of Morgan’s Creek and though he only received one Oscar for his work, he was later placed on the Hollywood Walk of Fame for his contributions to cinema.


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