The People Against O'Hara (1951)

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Jim Curtayne, formerly a successful defense attorney who is now a recovering alcoholic, attempts a comeback when he defends a neighbor's son a homicide charge.



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Cast overview, first billed only:
James P. Curtayne
Det. Vincent Ricks
Virginia 'Ginny' Curtayne
District Attorney Louis Barra
Eduardo Ciannelli ...
Sol 'Knuckles' Lanzetta
John Fordman 'Johnny' O'Hara
Yvette Duguay ...
Mrs. Katrina Lanzetta
Sven Norson
Frank Korvac
Jeff Chapman
Henry O'Neill ...
Judge Keating
Arthur Shields ...
Mr. O'Hara
Louise Lorimer ...
Mrs. Peg O'Hara
Betty Clark, Policewoman
Emile Meyer ...
Capt. Tom Mulvaney


Jim Curtayne, formerly a successful criminal defense attorney and currently a recovering alcoholic, has turned to civil law because of his problems with the bottle, daughter Ginny delays marrying in order to keep her dad on the straight and narrow, but when the son of neighborhood friends is accused of murder, he is lured into returning to criminal law. Complications arise as the initially overconfident Curtayne experiences lapses inn memory and judgment as well as an uncooperative client. He finds himself well over his head as he tries to reclaim his self-confidence and professional standing. Written by

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


Against sinister forces that prey on youth! See more »


Crime | Drama | Film-Noir


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Release Date:

1 September 1951 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Le peuple accuse O'Hara  »

Company Credits

Production Co:

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs


Sound Mix:

(Western Electric Sound System)

Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
See  »

Did You Know?


Although almost all of the film takes place in New York City, there is less than 5 minutes of footage filmed on location in the City of New York. See more »


When Curtayne walks up to the bar to order a short beer, a moving shadow of the boom microphone and cables can be seen in the mirror behind the bar. See more »


Photographer: [as Curtayne enters the court] James P. Curtayne - complete with carnation.
James P. Curtayne: [Confidently] Never enter the ring without it.
See more »

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User Reviews

Spencer Tracy uplifts a familiar plot
4 September 2005 | by (United States) – See all my reviews

An excellent performance by Spencer Tracy in "The People Against O'Hara" lifts this all too familiar plot line to a different level. Tracy is an alcoholic who, for the sake of his health and sobriety, becomes a civil attorney, only to be drawn back into criminal work when neighborhood friends need him to defend their son. The son is played by a pre-Gunsmoke, blond James Arness, and it was a pleasure to see him do something besides the one-note Matt Dillon. Diana Lynn does an excellent job as Tracy's protective daughter, and a pathetically young Richard Anderson is her patient fiancé.

Tracy's performance drives the film, which is really just an excuse for a character study, and who better to essay it. He beautifully shows the man's torment and loss of abilities. The ending is tense and suspenseful.

There is a fine cast, including the above, Pat O'Brien John Hodiak, Eduardo Cianelli, and William Campbell (who in real life was for a time married to Judith Exner, the woman who went public with her affair with JFK).

I think Spencer Tracy is always worth watching, and this film is no exception.

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