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William C. McGann
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>
[Referring to O'Malley]
That guy's brains run with nothing but city ordinances. He spends all his time studying his manual. He picks laws out of the air from wastebaskets, from graveyards! He thinks of things that were enacted when Times Square was a hog ranch.
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"You're right, you're always right... that's what's wrong with you."
Pat O'Brien portrays the title character, a strictly by the book rookie patrolman in New York's 7th Precinct, in this formulaic story that will have you experience a range of emotions, as does O'Malley before it's all over. "I just love to watch him pull out that manual" - so says newspaper reporter Pinky Holden (Hobart Cavanaugh), who takes great pleasure in taking shots at O'Malley and the Police Department under his byline. O'Malley is so strict in fact, that he pulls out the manual and admonishes his own mother when she throws a handful of crumbs out her apartment window for the birds - it's littering after all!
When O'Malley stops John Phillips (Humphrey Bogart) for a loud muffler, it causes Phillips to be late for his first job in a long time. With a wife and young daughter, Phillips loses his chance for work when he arrives late and finds the gate to his factory job shut down. You can more or less guess what follows - the frustrated Phillips accidentally injures a pawn shop owner and takes four hundred dollars out of the till. Arrested and sentenced to a minimum two year prison stretch, Mrs. Phillips (Frieda Inescort) is left alone to care for daughter Babs (Sybil Jason), who's suffered a knee injury that cannot receive proper medical attention because of their meager circumstances.
O'Malley realizes what he's done and attempts to set things right, even though by now, the neighborhood takes him for a real hard nosed pain in the butt. Ultimately, it's young Babs Phillips who helps O'Malley understand the error of his ways, at first not knowing of her connection to the man he helped put away. The humbled officer seeks medical treatment for the young girl, and arranges for Phillips' early parole, all in secret. By the time the story ends, O'Malley has done a complete turn, and is now the one who tries to model compassion for his captain and fellow officers.
Filmed in 1937, "The Great O'Malley" is an excellent period piece of city life and neighborhood relationships. Without giving too much away, take note of the blood transfusion scene in the latter part of the movie to see how far medicine has evolved in seventy years.
Pat O'Brien and Humphrey Bogart made a total of four films together, with O'Brien top billed over Bogey in each - the others being "China Clipper", "San Quentin", and the minor classic "Angels With Dirty Faces", all made within the space of three years, 1936-1938. For her part, actress Ann Sheridan appeared with both actors in this film and "San Quentin", all are recommended.
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