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The Great O'Malley (1937)

 -  Drama  -  13 February 1937 (USA)
6.8
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Ratings: 6.8/10 from 332 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.

Director:

Writers:

(screen play), (screen play), 1 more credit »
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Title: The Great O'Malley (1937)

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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 »
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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

Judy Nolan: Can't you understand? It's not only Phillips, it's a whole parade of Phillipses and Barbaras, and Heaven knows how many Mrs. Phillipses. You're not a human being; you're a machine. You're right; you're always right! That's what's wrong with you!
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

 
Flawed premise
9 December 2009 | by (United States) – See all my reviews

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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