The Great O'Malley

  • 1937
  • Movie
  • NR
  • Drama

In this fast-paced vehicle O'Brien is a tough, uncompromising cop who gives out tickets for the slightest infraction. So rule-book crazy is O'Brien that he is friendless on the force and in the streets; even his kind old mother, Gordon, is reserved about her intractable son. When reporter Cavanaugh lampoons O'Brien's strict code of law enforcement, O'Brien's...read more

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In this fast-paced vehicle O'Brien is a tough, uncompromising cop who gives out tickets for the slightest infraction. So rule-book crazy is O'Brien that he is friendless on the force and in the streets; even his kind old mother, Gordon, is reserved about her intractable son. When reporter

Cavanaugh lampoons O'Brien's strict code of law enforcement, O'Brien's chief, Crisp, becomes incensed at having the police department ridiculed in the press. He demotes the cop, assigning him to the lowly position of crossing guard at an intersection. One of O'Brien's first victims is Bogart, who

is unemployed and is driving to a job appointment in his rattletrap car. O'Brien stops him and gives him a ticket for a broken muffler and noisy exhaust. Moreover, O'Brien delays Bogart so long that he loses the job. Bogart returns home, thoroughly disillusioned, to his wife, Inescort, and

crippled daughter, Jason, and becomes desperate for money with which to feed and house his family. He takes his medals won during WW I to a pawn shop and gets into a squabble with the owner (a scene enacted many times in 1930s films, including I AM A FUGITIVE FROM A CHAIN GANG where WW I hero Paul

Muni attempts to pawn his Croix de Guerre). During the fight, Bogart knocks out the pawnbroker and, in a moment of weakness, takes all the money from the till. A short time later, O'Brien arrests Bogart--unaware of the robbery--for not having fixed his muffler. When the press learns of the kind of

arrest O'Brien has made and how the police later discover Bogart's more serious crime, they have a field day chiding the cops. Next, Bogart's little lame daughter is run over at O'Brien's crossing, and the cop, with the help of her school teacher, Sheridan, carries the injured girl home. Here

O'Brien learns that she is the daughter of the man he has persecuted over a trivial infraction and that he was the cause of Bogart's wild moment of law-breaking. O'Brien becomes a changed man. He begs a great surgeon to operate on Jason, and the girl is completely restored. O'Brien then testifies

on behalf of Bogart and gets him released. He does more, going to the company where Bogart applied for a job and persuading the management to hire him. None of this is made known to Bogart who, when released, becomes half crazy at what O'Brien has done to him. He gets a gun and slightly wounds the

cop, but O'Brien prevents his arrest, claiming that the gun went off accidentally. When back on duty, O'Brien has a new outlook on life and becomes a tolerant though just policeman. His transformation brings love from Sheridan and friendship from Bogart. All is right with the world. THE GREAT

O'MALLEY is performed charmingly and convincingly by O'Brien and his supporting players. Bogart and Sheridan are, as always, top drawer. Dieterle's direction is speedy and Haller's photography is sharp and fluid, although the script becomes occasionally syrupy. Bogart disliked this film, a

comedown, he felt, from his stellar role as Duke Mantee in THE PETRIFIED FOREST. Actually, Jack Warner had not wanted Bogart as a contract player and was forced to take him on by Leslie Howard, the star Warner had to have for THE PETRIFIED FOREST. From that time on, Warner tried to get Bogart to

break his contract by putting him in parts he knew the actor would despise, such as the role in THE GREAT O'MALLEY. Bogart, however, hung on until better roles came his way.

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  • Rating: NR
  • Review: In this fast-paced vehicle O'Brien is a tough, uncompromising cop who gives out tickets for the slightest infraction. So rule-book crazy is O'Brien that he is friendless on the force and in the streets; even his kind old mother, Gordon, is reserved about h… (more)

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