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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 <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Overall this is a particularly good film. Top-notch acting and direction, an involving plot, realistic scenery. A gaggle of veteran and up-and-coming actors deliver worthy, multi-dimensional performances that make us care about their characters. Pat O'Brien, always reliable as a fast-talking, rough and tough, take charge and take no prisoners character here gives a much more nuanced performance than is his usual. Donald Crisp is reliable as always as O'Brien's boss. Sybil Jason, the South-African wunderkind, was very endearing and a professional despite her age. It's too bad she didn't make it as she grew older. Then there's Humphrey Bogart, Frieda Inescourt, and Ann Sheridan who would all go to much bigger and better things.
So what's my beef? Well, let's consider the basic premise of the film: a man (Bogart) is on his way to work in a beat-up car with faulty exhaust and is given a ticket by an overzealous cop (O'Brien). The delay causes him to lose his job and in desperation he commits a burglary which lands him in prison. OK, so the cop didn't have to cite him for such a minor offense and even after he stopped him, could have believed him and let him go. But this is exactly where the logic is flawed and we find out how in the next few minutes. When Bogart tries to pawn some items the pawnbroker asks him why he doesn't go on relief to which Bogart replies that he wouldn't take any handouts. And there you have it. Had the man been on relief he could have fixed his muffler which would have given the cop no reason to stop him and he would have made it to his job on time. But no, in true pioneer spirit, rather than ask for government help (which after all he contributed to with his taxes) and preferring false pride to responsibility to his family he runs foul of the law and ends up in the clink completely powerless. And to me that's stupid.
Now I'll get off my pedestal and stop sermonizing. "The Great O'Malley" many not be masterpiece but it certainly bears watching and a worthy addition to anyone's collection.
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