The Great McGinty ★★★

This callously non-judgmental directorial debut from writer-director Preston Sturges famously won a Screenplay Oscar after Sturges sold the script for $10, on the condition that he be allowed to direct. That gambit might have paid off with Sturges’ later, more fully realized features, rather than here. This is a stiff effort that fails to build much momentum after its amusingly cynical initial con plays out. The cast, a mishmash of broad character actors and bland leads, is partially to blame, but it’s also that the film’s critique never develops beyond what the opening title promises. Its commitment to its worldview is admirable, at least.