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The Great Man Votes (1939)

Passed | | Drama | 13 January 1939 (USA)
In 1923, Gregory Vance, a widower with two children, is a former scholar who has turned from book-to-bottle. He works, slightly, as a night-watchman and his children, who know him for what ... See full summary »

Director:

Garson Kanin

Writers:

Gordon Malherbe Hillman (story), John Twist (screen play)
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Cast

Complete credited cast:
John Barrymore ... Gregory Vance
Peter Holden Peter Holden ... Donald
Virginia Weidler ... Joan
Katharine Alexander ... Miss Billow
Donald MacBride ... Iron Hat McCarthy
Benny Bartlett ... Davy McCarthy (as Bennie Bartlett)
Brandon Tynan ... Chester Ainslee
Elisabeth Risdon ... Phoebe Ainslee
Granville Bates ... The Mayor
Luis Alberni ... Manos
J.M. Kerrigan ... Hot Shot Gillings
William Demarest ... Charles Dale
Roy Gordon Roy Gordon ... Mr. Byrne
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Storyline

In 1923, Gregory Vance, a widower with two children, is a former scholar who has turned from book-to-bottle. He works, slightly, as a night-watchman and his children, who know him for what he is and what he isn't, are his only admirers. Then, it is discovered that he is the only registered voter in a key precinct and the politicians, from both parties, arrive in droves bearing inducements. What he does about this situation, and the relatives who want to take his children away from him make up the story. Written by Les Adams <longhorn1939@suddenlink.net>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

Taglines:

WHAT MAKES A GREAT PICTURE?...In this case it's a man with a hole in his pants and an empty heart...and two loyal kids who just knew their dad was a great man...and that wonderful, intangible something that makes blood pound faster, brings a lump in the throat, a laugh of gladness, and a precious tear to the eye! Come expecting one of the best pictures you've ever seen! See more »

Genres:

Drama

Certificate:

Passed | See all certifications »
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Details

Country:

USA

Language:

English | Latin

Release Date:

13 January 1939 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

Il voto del grand'uomo See more »

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Box Office

Budget:

$265,000 (estimated)
See more on IMDbPro »

Company Credits

Production Co:

RKO Radio Pictures See more »
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Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

Mono (RCA Victor System)

Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
See full technical specs »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

Garson Kanin's debut as a film director. See more »

Goofs

Impressions in the wet cement change greatly from the shot where Davy is pulled from it to the close-up of the cement worker looking down at it in the trough. See more »

Quotes

Miss Billow: I never thought a meringue pie could make so lovely a speech.
See more »

Crazy Credits

The opening credits are presented on four-sided campaign-like signs mounted on poles and carried around as if in a parade. See more »

Soundtracks

(Hail, Hail,) The Gang's All Here
(1904) (uncredited)
Music by Theodore Morse and Arthur Sullivan (uncredited)
Lyrics by Dolly Morse
Played during the opening credits
Reprised by the marching band at the parade
See more »

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User Reviews

 
Great performance by Barrymore
15 January 2007 | by blanche-2See all my reviews

John Barrymore is a down and out drunken widower with two children in "The Great Man Votes," a 1939 film also starring Virginia Weidler, Peter Holden, and Katherine Alexander. Barrymore plays Gregory Vance, a brilliant Harvard graduate, a once well-known intellectual, and a raging alcoholic. His two children, however, (Weidler and Holden) adore him, and he is an attentive dad. When his kids beat up the taunting son of the local political boss, Iron Hat McCarthy, Gregory loses his night watchman job. But when McCarthy meets with the party head, he's told the 13th precinct always votes the party in and he has to deliver; on being told the 13th precinct is voting the party, the rest of the precincts will follow. One problem. There's only one registered voter in the precinct - Gregory Vance. As Vance tries to parlay a deal for himself, his in-laws seek to take his children.

This is a heart-warming story with a brilliant performance by Barrymore. Pompous but loving, he makes Gregory Vance a likable character the audience roots for through the entire film. He's bombastic and over-dramatic, which is perfect for the character. His stage experience really shines through. The kids, Virginia Weidler and Peter Holden are excellent - and you'd never know Barrymore didn't like to work with kids.

As enjoyable as "The Great Man Votes" is, it leaves one feeling sad; Barrymore died when he was 50, his best screen years as a character actor were still ahead of him. So we have to take what we can get - and one of his best performances is in "The Great Man Votes."


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