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A taut, suspenseful crime film, The People Against O'Hara (1951) stars Spencer Tracy as James Curtayne, a district attorney forced into early retirement because of his alcoholism. Several scenes from the film have a harrowing reality undoubtedly due to Tracy's own struggles with alcohol. After giving up the bottle, Curtayne is determined to salvage his reputation by taking on the defense of Johnny O'Hara, who has been accused of murder. Curtayne's daughter (Diana Lynn), worries that the pressure to prove himself will drive her father back to drink. Complicating matters is O'Hara's refusal to reveal his whereabouts on the night of the murder to his attorney -he was with his former sweetheart (Yvette Dugay), who is married to a powerful mobster, Mr. "Knuckles" Lanzetta (Eduardo Ciannelli).
For The People Against O'Hara, Spencer Tracy was reunited with his old friend and roommate from New York theatre days, Pat O'Brien, who was given a featured role. (It was their first film together). O'Brien was having a difficult time finding suitable roles at the beginning of the 1950's but due to Tracy's insistence, he was cast in The People Against O'Hara and it reactivated his career. As for Tracy, he would go on to star in two more films directed by John Sturges: Bad Day at Black Rock (1955) and The Old Man and the Sea (1958). The People Against O'Hara was just one of three movies Sturges directed in 1951. Fans of Charles Bronson need to look quick to catch their hero in a small part as one of the evil Korvac brothers. Sturges must have liked Bronson's work since he went on to cast him in bigger roles in The Magnificent Seven (1960) and The Great Escape (1963). By the way, that's James Arness, the future star of the long-running TV series, Gunsmoke (1955-1975) as Johnny O'Hara.
Director: John Sturges
Producer: William H. Wright
Screenplay: John Monks Jr. based on the novel by Eleazar Lipsky
Cinematography: John Alton
Editor: Gene Ruggiero
Art Direction: Cedric Gibbons, James Basevi
Music: Carmen Dragon
Set Design: Edwin B. Willis, Jacques Mopes
Special Effects: A. Arnold Gillespie, Warren Newcombe
Cast: Spencer Tracy (James Curtayne), Pat O'Brien (Vincent Ricks), Diana Lynn (Ginny Curtayne), John Hodiak (Louis Barra), Eduardo Ciannelli (Knuckles Lanzetta), James Arness (Johnny O'Hara).
BW-103m. Closed captioning.
by Celia M. Reilly