HURRAH, THE (director: John
Ford; screenwriters: Frank
Nugent/based on the novel by Edwin O'Connor;
Lawton, Jr.; editor: Jack Murray; cast:
Spencer Tracy (Frank
Skeffington), Jeffrey Hunter (Adam Caulfield), Dianne
Foster (Mave Caulfield), Pat O'Brien (John Gorman),
Basil Rathbone (Norman Cass, Sr.), Donald Crisp (The
Cardinal), James Gleason (Duke Gillen), Edward Brophy
(Ditto Boland), John Carradine (Amos Force), Willis
Bouchey (Roger Sugrue), Basil Ruysdael (Bishop Gardner),
Ricardo Cortez (Sam Weinberg), Frank McHugh (Festus Garvey), Jane Darwell (Delia),
Ken Curtis (Msgr.
Ford (Charles J.
Hennessey), Frank Albertson (Jack Mangan), Arthur Walsh (Mayor's son, Frank Skeffington Jr.), Charles Fitzsimmons (Kevin
McCluskey), Anna Lee (Gert); Runtime: 121;
MPAA Rating:NR; producer: John Ford;
Columbia Pictures; 1958)
"Enjoyable as crowd-pleasing nostalgia."
Reviewed by Dennis Schwartz
An old-fashioned political drama set in the 1950s about the last campaign of a wily and powerful aging populist Irish mayor, Frank Skeffington (Spencer Tracy), from an unnamed New England town. The mysterious town is supposedly Boston, and the fictionalized biopic is unmistakably based on Boston's Mayor Curley. John Ford ("The Quiet Man"/"Stagecoach"/"The Searchers") bases the film on the novel by Edwin O'Connor, and it's written by Frank Nugent. It pays its respects to the Irish-American contribution to American politics, and gets all sentimental about an old-time political boss who is humanized and viewed as a cherished relic whose time is up but will do anything to win--which means fighting dirty. The usual graft and corruption of the old-time political bosses is glossed over as if it didn't exist or wasn't that important. What the pic lacks is energy and a genuine feeling that Ford cared about the Irish-American old-style of politicking, or for that matter if the sixty-something celebrated director cared any more about making movies.
Widower four-term mayor
is saddled with
a worthless jazz-loving playboy son (Arthur Walsh). So
he bonds with his earnest young married nephew Adam Caulfield
(Jeffrey Hunter), who writes a popular sports column
for a local newspaper and is asked by his blue-blood
Skeffington's final bid for office. Force detests Skeffington because the mayor's immigrant
mother was fired for stealing left-over food when a
maid in the home of Force's father and for being a pushy upstart who rose to
a position he believes too high for him. Force backs
the unimpressive novice rival Kevin McCluskey (Charles Fitzsimmons). When
the dull McCluskey
wins in a surprising landslide, it leads to the
smooth-tongued Skeffington's long unrepentant death scene.
Ford's unofficial repertory
appear in various minor roles, such as Donald Crisp,
John Carradine, Wallace Ford, Jane Darwell, James
Gleason, Ricardo Cortez, Basil Rathbone and Pat
The film did poorly at the
box office and received mixed reviews. But it was
still a Ford film and had enough clout to be enjoyable
as crowd-pleasing nostalgia, even if not one of Ford's
REVIEWED ON 3/22/2012 GRADE: B -
Dennis Schwartz: "Ozus' World Movie Reviews"
© ALL RIGHTS RESERVED DENNIS SCHWARTZ