Sam Hurley, "Nation's No. 1 killer" with a cold contempt for "heroes," escapes prison with two companions and takes a mixed bag of hostages to Nevada ghost town Lost Hope City. He knows ... See full summary »
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
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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