|The Mighty McGurk|
|Directed by||John Waters|
|Produced by||Nat Perrin|
|Written by||Harry Clork|
William R. Lipman
|Music by||David Snell|
|Cinematography||Charles Edgar Schoenbaum|
|Edited by||Ben Lewis|
|Distributed by||Loews Inc.|
Roy "Slag" McGurk (Wallace Beery), the former heavyweight boxing champion, ekes out a living as a bouncer in Mike Glenson's (Edward Arnold) saloon in the rough Bowery district of New York City. Mike has to meet two brewers for an important deal, so he sends Slag to pick up his daughter Caroline (Dorothy Patrick), returning by ship from Europe. Despite his estrangement from Johnny Burden (Cameron Mitchell), his boxing protege who joined the Salvation Army after putting one opponent in a wheelchair, Slag tells the young man that Mike sent Caroline away to try to break up her relationship with Johnny.
At Ellis Island, an acquaintance offers to pay Slag to round up 50 new immigrants to work for him. The fiftieth man has a young English boy in tow, Nipper (Dean Stockwell), an orphan who has been sent to America to live with his uncle Milbane (Aubrey Mather). Slag reluctantly agrees to deliver the boy, who would rather stay with him than go to his uncle. When rival work recruiters start a fight, Nipper either loses or throws away the tag bearing Milbane's address. After searching for the uncle, Slag has no choice but to keep the boy and a stray dog Nipper saved from the dogcatchers.
In order to complete his deal with the brewers and build the biggest saloon in the Bowery, Mike needs the building occupied by the Salvation Army. He orders Slag to get the group to leave, one way or another. When Slag refuses, Mike blackmails him into it, stating he has evidence that Slag won his championship by fraud; his opponent took a dive. To placate his employee, Mike offers to make Slag a partner in his new saloon for $2000, a sum Slag hopes to get as a reward from Nipper's uncle.
Meanwhile, the Children's Protective Society learns about Nipper. The only way Slag can keep the boy is to join the Salvation Army, under Johnny's command.
When he finally does locate Milbane, he discovers that Nipper's relation is a crook who wants him to give him money for some shares. Nipper learns, from their loud argument, that Slag was only interested in the reward. The brokenhearted boy goes to stay with the Salvation Army. When word gets around, Slag loses the friendship of former girlfriend and pawnshop owner Mamie Steeple (Aline MacMahon), who had been loaning him money for years.
When Mike pressures Slag to arrange a riot at the Salvation Army, Slag finally rebels. He tells the saloon patrons that his championship bout was rigged, then fights all the thugs he himself had recruited for Mike. Johnny joins in the brawl, and together they beat the mob arrayed against them. Caroline finds out what her father had tried to do, and goes to pack her things. Mike gives up, and tells Johnny to go after her. With the way clear to adopting Nipper, Slag asks Mamie for a loan of $200 ... to pay for a wedding.
- Wallace Beery as Roy "Slag" McGurk
- Dean Stockwell as Nipper
- Edward Arnold as Mike Glenson
- Aline MacMahon as Mamie Steeple
- Cameron Mitchell as Johnny Burden
- Dorothy Patrick as Caroline Glenson
- Aubrey Mather as Milbane
- Morris Ankrum as Fowles, one of Milbane's crooked associates
- Clinton Sundberg as Flexter, Milbane's other associate
- Charles Judels as First Brewer
- Torben Meyer as Second Brewer
- Joe Yule as Immigrant from Ireland (uncredited)
The critic for The New York Times found The Mighty McGurk to be too much like Beery's previous efforts, writing, "while this story of an ex-prizefight champ who befriends an English orphan boy fits our pug as comfortably as an old shoe, it doesn't look much better than an ancient brogan. Mr. Beery, in short, has fought this good fight before and chances are the going will be as familiar and slow for the customers as it seems to be for our hero."
According to MGM records, the film earned $1,397,000 in the US and Canada and $402,000 elsewhere resulting in a profit of $314,000.
- The Eddie Mannix Ledger, Los Angeles: Margaret Herrick Library, Center for Motion Picture Study.
- A. W. (April 4, 1947). "' The Mighty McGurk,' Typical Wallace Beery Fare Offered by Metro, at the Loew's State -- Dean Stocktoell (sic) Is in Cast". The New York Times.