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The Last Hurrah Reviews

One of John Ford's weakest films. Spencer Tracy breezes through this cliched, sentimental study of a political boss like a college student showing off when asked to recite his multiplication tables. Frank Skeffington (Tracy) rises each morning to put a rose beneath the portrait of his deceased wife. His son (Arthur Walsh), an empty-headed good-for-nothing, does nothing but play jazz and chase women. Though surrounded by cronies and political associates, Skeffington is essentially friendless, except for his young and idealistic nephew Adam (Hunter). Adam works as a reporter for an opposition newspaper run by Amos Force (Carradine), leader of the patrician class which has always been at odds with Skeffington and his minions. Skeffington seeks a loan from banker Cass (Rathbone) to back a new housing project. Cass refuses, and Frank retaliates by making Cass' retarded son (O.Z. Whitehead) acting fire commissioner. Rather than see his childlike son disgrace the family, Cass grants the loan but takes his revenge by financially backing the opposition. Adam records Frank's last political campaign, his "last hurrah" for the city's mayoralty, which is packed with old-time street marches, slogans, and banners. The venerable politico loses, however, and soon after dies in bed after his political pals (Pat O'Brien, James Gleason, Edward Brophy and Frank McHugh among them) make their final farewells. For Ford, Tracy and most of the veteran cast, this film was like old home week, and Tracy considered making it his final film. It did turn out to be the last film made by veteran character actor Brophy, here giving the film's best performance. The rest of the cast, Tracy included, turn in enjoyably effortless if if not particularly inspired work; the heavily sentimental atmosphere seemed to get the better of the cast and crew. Ford's approach here is rather tedious and somber, despite the comedic aspects of the script, placing emphasis on death; his scenes are deeply shadowed, and there is a pervasive gloom in almost every scene, heralding Tracy's demise. Some of the humor works well, though the comedy milked at the expense of the mentally retarded Cass Jr. today seems in bad taste.