Showing posts with label William Demarest. Show all posts
Showing posts with label William Demarest. Show all posts

Tuesday, February 25, 2020

The Great McGinty (1940)

Dan McGinty's (Brian Donlevy) life had a meteoric rise and fall and now he finds himself on the other side of things. Working as a bartender in a banana republic he entertains a drunk American banker Tommy (Louis Jean Heydt) and his gal pal (Steffi Duna) with his life story. Told in a flashback, we follow McGinty has goes from being a hobo to the governor of his state. At first he's hired by Skeeters (William Demarest), the right hand man to crooked mobster known as The Boss (Akim Tamiroff), to vote under assumed names in a rigged election. McGinty, wanting to make an extra buck, votes a whopping 37 times impressing The Boss who takes him under his wing. McGinty is transformed into a mayoral candidate complete with a new wife Catherine (Muriel Angelus) and her two children. McGinty is along for the ride until things get complicated. He finds himself falling for Catherine despite their strictly business arrangement, for family life and pushes back when The Boss makes certain demands of McGinty once he's governor.

The Great McGinty (1940) is Preston Sturges directorial debut. Up until this point he had been a screenwriter working on dialogue and adapting screenplays. Sturges wrote The Great McGinty, originally entitled The Story of a Man. The story goes that Paramount offered him $10 for his original script but Sturges refused to sell it unless he could direct the film as well. This was a brilliant career move. The film went on to be a box office hit and won Sturges an Academy Award for Best Writing, Original Screenplay. He went on to direct a dozen more films including The Lady Eve (1941), Sullivan's Travels (1941), The Palm Beach Story (1942) and Unfaithfully Yours (1948). In his film The Miracle of Morgan's Creek (1943), Brian Donlevy and Akim Tamiroff reprise their roles as McGinty and The Boss.

The Great McGinty is a charming picture. It's lighthearted approach to the rather heavy topic of political corruption and morality makes this a big spoonful of medicine you want to take. Donlevy is fantastic as the stubborn vagabond with a heart of gold. If you know me, you know that I simply adore Akim Tamiroff and will watch him in anything. The Boss is a plum role for Tamiroff and he gets a lot more screen time than he usually does in a film and he has some great conflicts with Donlevy that are just fun to watch. And of course William Demarest is at his best as The Boss's sidekick schemer. I was sad to read that this was Muriel Angelus's final film. She plays Catherine McGinty with grace and charm and left Hollywood after that to return to the theater. The wardrobe in this film especially McGinty's flamboyant suits and Catherine's fabulous gowns were designed by the great Edith Head.

Kino Lorber Classics recently released The Great McGinty (1940) on Blu-ray. This edition includes a brand new 4K master restoration which looks fantastic. It also includes English subtitles (which I mention because I use these all the time), audio commentary by film historian Samm Deighan and Kino Lorber Classics movie trailers.

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Thank you to Kino Lorber for sending me a copy of this set for review.

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

All Through the Night (1941)

All Through the Night - Authentic Region 1 DVD from Warner Brothers starring Humphrey Bogart, Conrad Veidt, Kaaren Verne, Jane Darwell, Frank Mc Hugh, Jackie Gleason, Peter Lorre, Barton Maclane, William Demarest & Directed by Vincent Sherman All Through the Night (1941) is a cheesecake murder-mystery with some Nazis thrown in for flavor. Bogie stars as Gloves Donahue (::snickers::) has been eating Miller's cheesecake for nearly a decade. When Mr. Miller is murdered by Pepi (Peter Lorre), Gloves runs into a swell looking but mysterious dame by the name of Leda (Kaaren Verne) who may be able to reveal who and why Miller was killed. Gloves rounds up a tag team of compadres including Sunshine (William Demarest), Starchy (Jackie Gleason) and Barney (Frank McHugh) to help solve the mystery. But they find a lot more than they bargained for. A whole underground cell of Nazis who are plotting a major attack on the city. What's a cheesecake-loving thug to do?! The plot is convoluted, as most early films about Nazis were, but the film is still enjoyable to watch.

Humphrey Bogart carries this film really well even though he threatens to be overshadowed by an amazing cast of character actors.

A very very young Jackie Gleason. Look at those baby cheeks! Don't you just want to squeeze them? Gleason doesn't have many scenes in this film but the ones he does stands out because of his wise-cracking lines as well as the novelty of him being a young Jackie Gleason!

Phil Silvers plays the waiter who dares to bring Gloves (Bogie) a slice of cheesecake that isn't from Millers. He's got some great lines at the beginning of the film and his facial expressions are hilarious!

William Demarest plays Sunshine, Gloves' right-hand man. Most of the time in mysteries like these the hero is by himself most of the time he's doing his investigation. Not in this film! Sunshine is by Gloves' side ready to take punches and fall off of balconies whenever Gloves needs him.

Barton MacLane plays the disgruntled club owner Marty Callahan who has the noive of dissing Gloves' ma! He doesn't realize that his club is being taken over by a bunch of stinkin' Nazis until Gloves smacks some sense into him!

Frank McHugh plays Barney, Gloves' sidekick and driver. Barney is sexually frustrated and during the whole story he meets a dame, gets engaged, gets married but never consummates the marriage because he's too busy helping Gloves and Sunshine in investigating the moider. McHugh is probably the funniest character in the film and the most enjoyable to watch. He's given a lot of great scenes and lines.

Judith Anderson, of Rebecca (1940) fame, plays the evil Madame. A Nazi suspicious of Leda (Bogie's gal) and her motives. I don't know about you, but it's always a delight when Judith Anderson appears in a film. Even if she plays evil most of the time.

Peter Lorre plays the evil Pepi who murders Mr. Miller or Miller's Bakery. He's creepy and childlike. Whenever he pops up on screen, we know something bad is going to happen. Fun fact, Lorre and Kaaren Verne (who plays Leda) married in real life a few years after this film was made.

There are several other great character actors in the film but these were just my favorites! Please give this lesser-known Bogie film a try!

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