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John Ford weaves three "Judge Priest" stories together to form a good- natured exploration of honour and small-town politics in the South around the turn of the century. Judge William ... See full summary »
An aging politician tries to get re-elected one last time in the changing world of the 1950s when TV started to play a bigger part in politics. Based loosely on the career of multi-term Boston Mayor James Michael Curley, this film examines the good and evil inherent in politics and all the things that go into an election. Tracy's uphill battle to stay in office is set against the political machinery that preyed on ethnic hatred and old-time money.Written by
When Frank Jr. bursts into the bedroom to see his dying Father, the doorknob comes apart and the interior knob falls off. The Doctor immediately follows him into the room, and the doorknob is once again intact. See more »
[standing by Skeffington's bed]
Well, at least he made his peace with God. There's one thing we all can be sure of - if he had it to do over again, there's no doubt in the world he would do it very, very differently.
Mayor Frank Skeffington:
[opening his eyes]
Like hell I would.
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"The Last Hurrah" tells the story of old-time, machine driven, local politics. Both the good and the bad sides.
On the good, you had a cluster of politicos who worked hard for their citizenry. Efficient, powerful and determined, they could get the job done, with a pat on the back or the wink of an eye.
On the bad you had a cluster of politicos who expected a quid pro quo for favors they delivered. They expected those they helped to help them at the polls. They also usually helped members of their own group more than other people, as well.
In "The Last Hurrah", this type of old-time politics is coming to an end. Television campaigns are being introduced, and at least one of the candidates is learning that you can reach more people in a two minute ad, than you can by standing on local street corners giving speeches. It is the dawn of a new political era.
Spencer Tracy plays Mayor Skeffington, an old political pro, who is about to run his last campaign. He believes in the old ways. Pressing the flesh, meeting his constituency face to face. He is more apt to apply the pressure of his office in order to get what he wants, than he is to seek a consensus on matters. Tracy is perfect in this role. In many ways it is Tracy's last hurrah. He would appear in only a handful of films after this one. Since the film was made in 1958, you could also say that his style of acting is giving way to a new breed as well.
Jeffrey Hunter is effective as Tracy's nephew. A political neophyte, who learns to admire Skeffington the man, and mayor.
Tracy is surrounded by one of the best supporting casts to be seen on film. His "backroom" boys are Pat O'Brien, James Gleason, and Edward Brophy. Watching them, you get the sense of the type of "cigar filled rooms" they worked in to get deals done.
Basil Rathbone, Donald Crisp, John Carradine are all perfect in their roles as well. Wallace Ford and Frank McHugh add "local flavor" to their roles as traditional opponents to Skeffington.
But it is Tracy who carries this film, and he does so handsomely. I am one who believes that many of his best performances were his last ones. I think because he seemed more natural and there seems to be less effort and fewer mannerisms in these performances. "The Last Hurrah" demonstrates this.
Tracy at the top of his game with many of his, and Ford's, old cronies, making another classic.
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