The People Against O'Hara


1h 42m 1951
The People Against O'Hara

Brief Synopsis

A defense attorney jeopardizes his career to save his client.

Film Details

Genre
Drama
Crime
Adaptation
Film Noir
Classic Hollywood
Release Date
Sep 7, 1951
Premiere Information
New York opening: 4 Sep 1951
Production Company
Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Corp.
Distribution Company
Loew's Inc.
Country
United States
Location
New York City, New York, United States; New York City--Criminal Courts Building, New York, United States; New York City--Fulton Fish Market, New York, United States
Screenplay Information
Based on the novel The People Against O'Hara by Eleazar Lipsky (New York, 1950).

Technical Specs

Duration
1h 42m
Sound
Mono (Western Electric Sound System)
Color
Black and White
Theatrical Aspect Ratio
1.37 : 1
Film Length
9,179ft (11 reels)

Synopsis

As fishmarket owner William Sheffield is robbed and murdered outside his New York City home, Swedish seaman Sven Norson observes the crime from across the street. The police soon find the getaway car and fingerprints of ex-con Frankie Korvac, a Sheffield employee who names co-worker Johnny O'Hara as his accomplice and the triggerman. When plainclothes detective Vince Ricks goes to arrest Johnny, he runs away, fearful that Ricks is a henchman for gangster Knuckles Lanzetta, the older husband of the woman with whom Johnny is having an affair. Johnny's parents call former criminal law attorney James P. Curtayne, hoping that he will defend their son, whom Jim had gotten out of trouble as a youth. At first recovering alcoholic Jim refuses the case, in deference to his protective daughter Ginny, but soon acquiesces. Johnny will not tell Jim that he was with Mrs. Lanzetta when the murder took place and will not explain why he has been keeping a gun. Although the case seems weak, ambitious District Attorney Louis Barra is convinced that he will win because Johnny recently argued with Sheffield, and Frankie swears that Johnny planned to kill their boss for a gold bar he kept in a suitcase that was found in Johnny's car. While Ginny tells her long-time boyfriend, Jeff Chapman, that she cannot marry him because her father needs her, Jim goes to see Knuckles. Knuckles has no idea who the murderer is, but tells Jim that the day before he died, Sheffield had bragged that he would soon repay a $20,000 loan. At the start of the trial, Jim is in top form, but when he repeatedly fails to break Frankie's testimony, Jim is despondent and has a bitter argument with Ginny after starting to take a drink. One afternoon, Ricks, who is an old friend of Jim, tells him that there is a secret eyewitness who has approached Barra. After Ricks leaves the bar, Jim orders a drink and is approached by Norson, who implies that he might be willing to change his story for money. Though initially repelled, Jim follows Norson to a table, writes him a check for $500, then gets drunk. When Norson takes the witness stand the next day, Jim is shocked that he is sticking with his orginal story, then sees the $500 check in Barra's hand. O'Hara is convicted, after which Barra berates Jim but does not immediately file bribery charges. A few days later, at the funeral of a mutual friend, Ricks tells Jim that an attractive woman claiming to be Johnny's sister had attempted to visit him. Suspicious, Jim asks Johnny's parents to look through his things and finds an Italian-English dictionary and a receipt for a postal box. The postal clerk will not let Jim get Johnny's mail without a key, but Jim looks through the window of the box and sees a letter addressed in a woman's handwriting. Suspicious that the woman could be Knuckles' attractive young wife, Jim confronts her. Although frightened that her husband will learn of her affair, she tells Jim, then Barra and Ricks, that she was with Johnny the night of the murder. Barra believes her, but her statement would not hold up in court as Johnny protectively refuses to corroborate her story. Under further questioning, she reveals that Knuckles was very interested in Johnny's trial and once made a comment to a cohort implying that the suitcase was hiding something "right under our eyes." On a hunch, Barra has the suitcase taken to the narcotics unit, where agents find $200,000 worth of dope hidden in the lining. Now working with both Barra and Ricks's help, Jim goes to Knuckles and says that he needs to call in a long-owed favor. Knuckles reveals that he did learn who killed Sheffield and agrees to help in exchange for the suitcase, which Jim says has just been released to him. Jim goes to the meeting place, Sheffield's house, wearing a police wire, with Barra and Ricks nearby. When the wire does not work properly inside the house, Jim realizes that he is in grave danger and calls Ginny, who is decorating their Christmas tree. He is casual with her, then asks to speak with Jeff, and sternly tells him to marry and take care of Ginny. A moment later, James Korvac, Frankie's older brother, who is a large man like Johnny, approaches the house. Korvac reveals that he has killed Knuckles, then takes Jim for a walk at gunpoint. Although plainclothes narcotics officer Betty Clark tries to distract Korvac, a shootout ensues when Frankie's brother Angelo drives up in a getaway van. Jim is mortally wounded before the police can move in and capture the brothers. Barra tells Ricks that he will not file bribery charges, but learns that it is too late to tell Jim.

Cast

Spencer Tracy

James P. Curtayne

Pat O'brien

Vince Ricks

Diana Lynn

Ginny Curtayne

John Hodiak

Louis Barra

Eduardo Ciannelli

Knuckles Lanzetta

James Arness

Johnny O'Hara

Yvette Duguay

Mrs. Lanzetta

Jay C. Flippen

Sven Norson

William Campbell

Frankie Korvac

Richard Anderson

Jeff Chapman

Henry O'neill

Judge Keating

Arthur Shields

Mr. O'Hara

Louise Lorimer

Mrs. O'Hara

Ann Doran

Betty Clark

Emile Meyer

Captain Tom Mulvaney

Regis Toomey

Fred Colton

Katharine Warren

Mrs. Sheffield

Paul Bryar

Detective Howie Pendleton

Peter Mamakos

James Korvac

Perdita Chandler

Gloria Adler

Frank Ferguson

Al

Don Dillaway

Monty

C. Anthony Hughes

George

Lee Phelps

Emmett Kimbaugh

Lawrence Tolan

Vincent Korvac

Jack Lee

Court clerk

John Butler

Court clerk

Tony Barr

Little Wolfie

Richard Landry

Sailor

Sailor Billy Vincent

William Sheffield

Frankie Hyers

Bartender

Michael Dugan

Charlie the detective

Lennie Bremen

Harry the detective

Jim Toney

Officer Abrams

Benny Burt

Sammy

John Maxwell

Thayer Connolly

Mae Clarke

Receptionist

Paul Mcguire

Male stenographer

Kay Scott

Secretary

Angi O. Poulis

Watchman

Julius Tannen

Toby Baum

Dan Foster

Assistant. district attorney

Harry Cody

Photographer

Ned Glass

Magistrate

Lou Lubin

Eddie

Michael Mark

Workman

Phyllis Graffeo

Mary, Italian girl

Maurice Samuels

Papa Lanzetta

Celia Lovsky

Mrs. Korvac

Charles Buchinsky

Angelo Korvac

Bill Fletcher

Pete Korvac

Richard Bartlett

Tony Korvac

Joyce Otis

Thelma

"tiny" Jimmie Kelly

Leigh Keighly

Fred Essler

Augie

John Albright

Waiter

John Sheehan

Postal clerk

Jack Kruschen

Uniformed detective

William Self

Technician

Jonathan Cott

Policeman

William Schallert

Intern with ambulance

Sammy Finn

Gambler

Brooks Benedict

Gambler

Frank Sully

Fish monger

Ernesto Morelli

Fish monger

Jeff Richards

Ambulance driver

George Magrill

Court attendant

Bud Wolfe

Fingerprint technician

Jan Kayne

Virginia Hewitt

Film Details

Genre
Drama
Crime
Adaptation
Film Noir
Classic Hollywood
Release Date
Sep 7, 1951
Premiere Information
New York opening: 4 Sep 1951
Production Company
Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Corp.
Distribution Company
Loew's Inc.
Country
United States
Location
New York City, New York, United States; New York City--Criminal Courts Building, New York, United States; New York City--Fulton Fish Market, New York, United States
Screenplay Information
Based on the novel The People Against O'Hara by Eleazar Lipsky (New York, 1950).

Technical Specs

Duration
1h 42m
Sound
Mono (Western Electric Sound System)
Color
Black and White
Theatrical Aspect Ratio
1.37 : 1
Film Length
9,179ft (11 reels)

Articles

The People Against O'Hara


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
The People Against O'hara

The People Against O'Hara

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

Quotes

Trivia

Notes

According to Hollywood Reporter news items, much of the film was shot on location in New York City. Specific locations included the Criminal Courts Building and the Fulton Fish Market. Other news items noted that Larry Keating was being tested for a role, and assistant director Bert Glazer and studio executive J. J. Cohen filled in for director John Sturges when Sturges was ill from a viral infection. According to news items in Variety, New York attorney Gustave B. Garfield claimed that Eleazer Lipsy, who sold his novel to M-G-M for $40,000, had edited Garfield's short story "Murder in Jest," and used it as the basis for his novel. Garfield sued both Lipsky and M-G-M, but the suit was dropped when M-G-M bought the rights to Garfield's story for $5,000. A Lux Radio Theatre adaptation of the film was broadcast on March 9, 1953, starring Walter Pidgeon and Janet Leigh.