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The People Against O'Hara Details


Fish-market worker Johnny O'Hara (James Arness) is named as a suspect when his boss -- with whom he had a dispute the previous day -- is shot to death in an apparent robbery. When he's arrested, his family appeals to their old friend James Curtayne (Spencer Tracy), who was once a renowned criminal attorney but is now in civil practice. He resists their entreaties until he realizes that no decent attorney will handle the case properly; his daughter (Diana Lynn) watches with alarm, however, for we soon learn that Curtayne is an alcoholic, and that the major factor in his life that pushed him over the edge was the stress of having someone's life in his hands. He discovers soon enough just how much Johnny's life is in his hands when his client refuses to level with him about his real whereabouts on the night of the murder. He also realizes as the trial starts precisely how rusty he is in the courtroom, and the old stresses return -- and with them, his drinking. Curtayne not only manages to lose the case but destroys his career when he tries to buy off a larcenous prosecution witness. His client facing a death sentence and his own life and career in ruins, he's seemingly hit bottom, but then new evidence surfaces, of a nature that not even the ambitious prosecutor (John Hodiak) can ignore. Recognizing that his client was actually innocent and also acting in his silence -- however stupidly -- from the noblest of motives, Curtayne is willing to redeem himself by putting his own life on the line, confronting a killer who has taken more than one life without any compunction whatsoever, and who has no reason to spill anything. The People Against O'Hara was a well-made, largely location-shot crime drama set in New York City, but it wouldn't have been nearly so prestigious a movie were it not for the presence of Spencer Tracy in the role of Curtayne. Ironically enough, he only agreed to do the film on the condition that his friend Pat O'Brien, who hadn't been in a major studio release in a couple of years, be given a large role, which he got as the lead detective on the case, and O'Brien and Tracy get a couple of really good scenes together. The film also includes an unbilled appearance by Charles Bronson, who was still working as Charles Buchinski in 1951, and is highlighted by a superb prominent supporting performance by William Campbell, who seems to quietly relish every nuance of his portrayal of a totally slimy character. ~ Bruce Eder, Rovi


Spencer Tracy
as James Curtayne
Pat O'Brien
as Vincent Ricks
Diana Lynn
as Ginny Curtayne
John Hodiak
as Louis Barra
Eduardo Ciannelli
as Knuckles Lanzetta
James Arness
as Johnny O'Hara
Jay C. Flippen
as Sven Norson
Richard Anderson
as Jeff Chapman
Henry O'Neill
as Judge Keating
Arthur Shields
as Mr. O'Hara
Louise Lorimer
as Mrs. O'Hara
Ann Doran
as Betty Clark
Regis Toomey
as Fred Colton
Katherine Warren
as Mrs. Sheffield
Benny Burt
as Sammy
Virginia Hewitt
as Girl
Julius Tannen
as Toby Baum
Billy Vincent
as William Sheffield
Donald Dillaway
as Monty
Celia Lovsky
as Mrs. Korvac
Sam Finn
as Gambler
Jonathan Cott
as Policeman
Kay Scott
as Secretary
Lee Phelps
as Emmett Kimbaugh
Brooks Benedict
as Gambler
Michael Mark
as Workman
Peter Mamakos
as James Korvac
Lou Lubin
as Eddie
William Schallert
as Intern
Lawrence Tolan
as Vincent Korvac
Strother Martin
Perdita Chandler
as Gloria Adler
Paul Bryar
as Detective Howie Pendleton
Maurice Samuels
as Papa Lanzetta
Frank Sully
as Fishmonger
Bud Wolfe
as Fingerprint Technician
Frank Ferguson
as Al
Fred Essler
as Augie
Jim Toney
as Officer Abrams
John Sheehan
as Postal Clerk
Jeff Richards
as Ambulance Driver
Mae Clarke
as Receptionist
Yvette Dugay
as Mrs. Lanzetta
Tony Barr
as Little Wolfie
Lennie Bremen
as Harry
Ernesto Morelli
as Fishmonger
Harry Cody
as Photographer
George Magrill
as Court Attendant
Phyllis Graffeo
as Mary
Ned Glass
as Magistrate
Jack Kruschen
as Detective


John Sturges
Eleazar Lipsky
Book Author
John Alton
Gene Ruggiero
Cedric Gibbons
Art Director
James Basevi
Art Director
Jacque Mapes
Set Designer
Edwin B. Willis
Set Designer
Helen Rose
Costume Designer
Warren Newcombe
Special Effects
Arnold A. Gillespie
Special Effects
William J. Tuttle