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The People Against O'Hara

4 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

James Curtayne (Spencer Tracy) was once a brilliant defense attorney, saving scores from prison-time and death row. But that was before a part of him crawled inside a bottle and never crawled out. He now practices civil law...it's safer that way. But when John O'Hara (James Arness), a kid from the neighborhood, gets hauled up on Murder One, he allows himself to get cajoled into returning to his former vocation. It's a mistake. The DA runs circles around the alcohol addled attorney, and O'Hara now faces execution. It's Jimmy's worst nightmare come true. The question is, what's he planning to do about it? A young John Sturges (The Magnificent Seven) teams up with seasoned cinema vet Tracy for this noir-tinged legal drama, and it proves a potent combo - a solid, by-the-numbers thriller rises above the machinations of plot to provide a compelling portrait of a very good, but very weak man in thrall to some very bad, very strong impulses.

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Product Details

  • Actors: Spencer Tracy, Pat O'Brien, Diana Lynn, John Hodiak
  • Directors: John Sturges
  • Format: NTSC
  • Region: All Regions
  • Number of discs: 1
  • Rated: NR (Not Rated)
  • Studio: Warner Archive
  • DVD Release Date: January 5, 2012
  • Run Time: 102 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 3.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (4 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B0066E6RQU
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #66,671 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)

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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Lawyeraau HALL OF FAMETOP 500 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on April 25, 2013
Format: DVD
Spencer Tracy is a standout in this tale of redemption. Playing the role of James Curtayne, an attorney who was once a formidable and respected prosecutor and is now in his own practice handling civil suits, brought low by his penchant for booze, he is clearly a man battling his own demons. Staying on the straight and narrow with the help of his devoted daughter (Diana Lynn), all is well until he decides to help out a Johnny O'Hara (James Arness), a young man whom he has known for a long time.

It appears that Johnny has gone and found himself charged with Murder in the First Degree for a crime he did not commit. His elderly, impoverished parents implore James Curtayne to help their son. He tries to explain that he does not handle criminal cases but finds himself, in a moment of weakness, caving in and taking the case for peanuts. He is, however, thrilled to be back in the game.

Unfortunately, there are many impediments to his quest to vindication for his client, last but not least, his client's reluctance to tell him where he really was the night of the murder. Moreover, his own weakness for booze also rears its ugly head, causing him to make some bad decisions. In the end, however, he manages to right what went wrong but at great cost.

Look for Pat O'Brien, who gives an excellent performance in a supporting role, as homicide detective Vince Ricks. It is Spencer Tracy, however, who steals the show. Kudos goes to director John Sturges for pulling out all the stops.
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6 of 7 people found the following review helpful By H. Bala TOP 500 REVIEWER on October 30, 2012
Format: DVD
When has Spencer Tracy not ever been in top form? He's solid yet again and appropriately world-weary in 1951's THE PEOPLE AGAINST O'HARA, and maybe it's because his character in the film bears a similar cross. Like Tracy in real life, James P. Curtayne is an alcoholic. It's what forced him to shift career tracks, from the assistant district attorney's office to the less intense field of civil suits. Curtayne's concerned daughter (Diana Lynn) has put her life on hold to ensure that he doesn't relapse. As the film starts, she thinks her job nearly done. But how can James P. Curtayne reject the pleas of an elderly couple from the old neighborhood whose son had just been arrested on a murder charge? He's known his latest client, John Fordman O'Hara (James Arness of GUNSMOKE), from when Johnny was a pup. He's back to practicing criminal law.

Except that Johnny O'Hara's alibi is flimsy, practically insubstantial. The case against him is strong. Curtayne has his work cut out, and it's not helping that Johnny's keeping mum about his real whereabouts on the night of the murder. With the full resources of the prosecutor aligned against him, a washed-up, weak-willed, boozy lawyer navigates a landmine of liars and mobsters and is betrayed by his own flagging faculties and by his addiction. Redemption looks real blurry when glimpsed thru a bottle. But it sure makes for a compelling character study.

Pat O'Brien, who in the advent of the 1950s had been landing fewer and fewer parts, plays Homicide Detective Vince Ricks, and he owes it to Spencer Tracy. Tracy insisted that O'Brien be given a part in the film or else, and this served to kickstart O'Brien's fading career. Director John Sturges competently runs the show, upgrading what would've been routine material into a potent courtroom drama.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Brian on June 21, 2015
Format: Amazon Instant Video
Spencer Tracy lends his gravitas and gentle manner to a thinly drawn role as washed-up defense attorney Jim Curtayne in John Sturges' otherwise routine courtroom crime/drama 'The People Against O'Hara' (MGM, 1951). Nothing objectionable about the proceedings-- noir-ish atmosphere (largely compliments of cinematographer John Alton), good supporting cast (including Pat O'Brien, John Hodiak and a young James Arness as the titular defendant) and competent screenplay-- but apart from Tracy's engaging performance it's nothing special either. Transfer looks to be taken from a reasonably clean source print with clear audio. 3-plus stars.
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Format: DVD Verified Purchase
SPENCER TRACY IS WONDERFUL AS USUAL THE MOVIE THOU OLD IS STILL GOOD . HE IS A WONDERFUL ACTOR AS HE WAS THE FIRST TO ACTUALLY LISTEN TO HIS FELLOW ACTOR . HIS ABILITY TO CHANGE WAS NOT GREAT BUT BETTER THAN 99% OUTV THERE . I ENJOYED THIS MIVIE AND WILL WATCH IT MANY TIMES
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