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The Great O'Malley (1937)

 -  Drama  -  13 February 1937 (USA)
6.9
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Ratings: 6.9/10 from 338 users  
Reviews: 13 user | 2 critic

A by-the-book patrolman who cares more about the letter of the law than justice feels guilty when his inflexibility sends a family man to prison.

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(screen play), (screen play), 1 more credit »
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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
...
James Aloysius O'Malley
Sybil Jason ...
Barbara Phillips
...
John Phillips
...
Judy Nolan
Frieda Inescort ...
Mrs. Phillips (as Frieda Inescourt)
...
Captain Cromwell
Henry O'Neill ...
Attorney for the Defense
Craig Reynolds ...
Motorist
Hobart Cavanaugh ...
Pinky Holden
Gordon Hart ...
Doctor
Mary Gordon ...
Mrs. O'Malley
Mabel Colcord ...
Mrs. Flaherty
Frank Sheridan ...
Father Patrick
Lillian Harmer ...
Miss Taylor
Delmar Watson ...
Tubby
Edit

Storyline

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 <stephan@cc.wwu.edu>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

Taglines:

A Tale of a Heartless Policeman

Genres:

Drama

Certificate:

Approved | See all certifications »
Edit

Details

Country:

Language:

| |

Release Date:

13 February 1937 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

The Rise of the O'Malleys  »

Company Credits

Production Co:

 »
Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
See  »
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Did You Know?

Quotes

Captain Cromwell: [to O'Malley] There's more to your job than handing out tickets like confetti!
See more »

Connections

Featured in Breakdowns of 1937 (1937) See more »

Soundtracks

Coney Island
(1935) (uncredited)
Music by Harry Warren
Whistled by William J. O'Brien in the hospital zone
See more »

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User Reviews

 
Pat O'Brien plays a Depression era Barney Fife
10 October 2010 | by (United States) – See all my reviews

Pat O'Brien plays John O'Malley, a New York City beat cop who thinks that enforcing the law is all mechanics and no heart. He tickets businessmen for having awnings that are inches too long, threatens to cite his own mother for spreading debris when she feeds bread to the pigeons from her kitchen window, and cites John Phillips (Humphrey Bogart) for a loud muffler when he is on his way to the first job he has had in years - remember this is the Great Depression. This sets off a string of tragic events starting with Phillips being late to his job and thus losing it, then being too proud to tell his wife and crippled daughter (Sybil Jason) that he lost the job, and finally an altercation at a pawn shop where Phillips was trying to pawn his gun and WWI medals that turns into a robbery. Philips goes to prison, and O'Malley becomes the laughing stock of the force and a target of the press as an example of law enforcement abuse.

All the while, O'Malley holds tight to his belief that he is just doing his job by enforcing all the law the all the time by the book. His captain wants his resignation, and when O'Malley won't give it, he has him assigned to public school crossing guard duty. The captain believes this will break or make the man. Did I mention that Phillips' little daughter goes to the same elementary school where O'Malley is assigned, and they strike up a friendship, neither one knowing who the other is? A romantic and humanizing interest comes in the person of Ann Sheridan as a schoolteacher at the elementary school.

This is a pleasant little early production code era entry, with O'Brien playing the same kind of hard boiled egg he played before the code, but this time donning a policeman's uniform. The only negative in the film, in my opinion, was a common device in films of the mid 30's - a child that is sickly-sticky sweet (Sybil Jason's character) over-sentimentalizing matters and sucking the adult cast into more than a few silly situations. However, at least here the child star is central to the plot. All in all, recommended especially for fans of Pat O'Brien and Ann Sheridan and anybody that is interested in a film in which Sybil Jason is actually billed above Humphrey Bogart - an odd sight indeed some 75 years later.


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