Officer O'Malley arrests John Phillips for a traffic violation and costs him a chance at a good job. Phillips has a wife and crippled child, so he commits robbery and O'Malley sends him to prison. After this O'Malley becomes closer to Phillips' family. Written by
Ed Stephan <email@example.com>
Thinking about The Great O'Malley put me in mind of an episode of NYPD Blue in its final season. Andy Sipowicz has been just appointed sergeant and the point of the whole series was watching Dennis Franz as Sipowicz grow as a human being. There's a scene in this particular episode where Sipowicz as sergeant mediates out a dispute when a young rookie cop collars a truck driver who was trying to make a delivery on a crowded street and was double parked. The driver protested the ticket and the cop arrested him and we see the driver in handcuffs.
Sipowicz basically tells the young patrolman to enforce the law, but with a little discretion, after all this is some poor working stiff, not serial criminal. And in the end the driver is cut loose and presumably the patrolman will use a little more tact in the future.
In the title role in The Great O'Malley is Pat O'Brien who's a walking rule book, so much so no one can stand being around him. But one day just like in NYPD Blue, he stops some guy for speeding on his first day to report to a new job. He detains him so long that the man loses that job.
Which leads to Humphrey Bogart just plain losing it and committing a robbery just to gain enough money to feed his wife and daughter. Of course that results on wife Frieda Inescourt and daughter Sybil Jason staying on relief which is what welfare was called back in the day.
None of this makes any impression on the officious Great O'Malley, but O'Brien happens to make the acquaintance of Inescourt and Jason and between the two of them, manage to soften him up a bit. Even O'Brien's girlfriend Ann Sheridan likes the change in him.
Later on he gets a chance to really make it up to Bogart, going quite a bit above and beyond in his job as a policeman.
The Great O'Malley is a typical Warner Brothers Depression era product from the working man's studio. Both Pat O'Brien and Humphrey Bogart do fine jobs, especially Bogart who at that time was playing mostly gangsters. Here he's a decent, but desperate man and really registers in the role that was a change of pace for him.
This film is not run too often, hopefully TCM will broadcast it and soon.
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