In Nazi Germany in 1936 seven men escape from a concentration camp. The camp commander puts up seven crosses and, as the Gestapo returns each escapee he is put to death on a cross. The ... See full summary »
A medical student--broke, hungry and desperate for money--is hired to murder a loan shark. After the killing he is tormented by guilt over what he's done. A detective, who knows the student... See full summary »
Jim Curtayne, formerly a successful criminal defense attorney and currently a recovering alcoholic, has turned to civil law because of his problems with the bottle, daughter Ginny delays marrying in order to keep her dad on the straight and narrow, but when the son of neighborhood friends is accused of murder, he is lured into returning to criminal law. Complications arise as the initially overconfident Curtayne experiences lapses inn memory and judgment as well as an uncooperative client. He finds himself well over his head as he tries to reclaim his self-confidence and professional standing.Written by
According to Director John Sturges' inputs for the book of Emmanuel Laborie "Sturges: a filmmaker's story", John Sturges said he was frightened directing Spencer Tracy, who was a living legend. At the beginning, he was just stuck on the storyboard and choosing good camera angles, and did not dare to interfere in Tracy's way of acting. Until the day Tracy rehearsed a scene, while Sturges was looking at it through the eye-piece of the camera, suddenly took off his jacket and hung it on the camera lens blocking up Sturges' view. Then Tracy took Sturges aside and told "John, can you stop only worrying about your camera and take care about the actors, because the camera is only a hungry machine, and it will not be satisfied if you feed it with junk food". See more »
When Curtayne walks up to the bar to order a short beer, a moving shadow of the boom microphone and cables can be seen in the mirror behind the bar. See more »
His Final Service To His Profession And His Client
Spencer Tracy's only venture into the noir genre finds him playing James P. Curtayne, an alcoholic criminal lawyer who is living with daughter Diana Lynn. She's essentially put her life on hold to take care of her father.
Friends from his old neighborhood ask him to defend their son, James Arness, who is being charged with a homicide during the course of a what we would now call a home invasion.
Tracy's not up to it, he's past his prime and unable to break down the perjured testimony of William Campbell who says Arness was the trigger man in the crime. He's got a sharp District Attorney in John Hodiak going against him. And he's got a client who's lying about his real whereabouts to shield someone else.
When the verdict of guilty is read against Arness in The People Against O'Hara it should be over. But not quite.
I liked John Hodiak as the District Attorney. He's good in anything he does and his role here is as an honest lawyer who's more interested in finding out the truth than scoring another prosecutorial notch on his belt. That in itself is very refreshing.
Given Spencer Tracy's own alcholism this must have been a part way too close to home for him. But he also is determined to serve his client to the best of his abilities which are sharply impaired when he makes a bad error in judgment in bribing witness Jay C. Flippen. Usually Flippen plays upright characters so this portrayal of a witness willing to sell his testimony to the highest bidder is against type and good.
Other good performances of note are Eduardo Ciannelli as the mob boss of the Fulton Fish Market, Pat O'Brien as Tracy's long time friend and homicide cop, and in a bit role in the end Ann Doran as a policewoman who puts herself on the line in the final confrontation scene.
Both Tracy and Hodiak in this film are two of the best portrayals of the legal profession on the screen. Even Tracy's ethical lapses are done with the best of intentions.
The People Against O'Hara is a great example of film noir at it's best and one of the screen's finest players in his only venture in noir.
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