Hollywood: Paramount Pictures, 1939. Master File script for the 1940 film "The Great McGinty," seen here under the working title, "Down Went McGinty," corrected in red pencil to "The Great McGinty." This revision contains an appropriately unusual and rather whimsical foreword by Sturges, with two earlier titles, "Biography of a Bum" and "The Vagrant," cited on the second and fourth leaves, respectively.
Sturges had become a very successful Hollywood screenwriter by the late 1930s, and with his screenplay for "The Biography of a Bum," wanted so much to direct the film that he offered to do the job for free. With very few exceptions (notably Charlie Chaplin), the notion of an established studio writer directing a film was nearly unheard of in Hollywood, where writers were typically not even allowed on the set. Only the irresistible cheapness of Sturges' offer made it possible for the film to get made.
Over the six year period during which the script remained unproduced, the title changed to "The Vagrant," then "Down with McGinty," then finally, just prior to production, to "The Great McGinty." It was not only a success, but won Sturges an Oscar for Best Screenwriter. More importantly, he was allowed to continue as a writer-director, with a magnificent career that included one classic after another, including "Sullivan's Travels," "The Lady Eve," "Unfaithfully Yours," "The Palm Beach Story," and "Hail the Conquering Hero."
Tall cream colored titled self wrappers, rubber-stamped Production No. 672, MASTER FILE, FILE COPY, PRODUCED, and PLEASE RETURN TO THE STORY DEPARTMENT / PARAMOUNT STUDIO - HOLLYWOOD. Dated April 28, 1939. Title page present, dated 1933, with credits for screenwriter Sturges, and Sturges' name written in holograph pencil just above. 109 leaves, mimeograph on cream colored stock. Pages Near Fine, wrapper Very Good plus. Side stapled.