Saturday, February 25, 2017

Tonight's Movie: The Great O'Malley (1937) - A Warner Archive DVD Review

Pat O'Brien stars as a rigid policeman, THE GREAT O'MALLEY (1937), available from the Warner Archive.

New York Police Officer James O'Malley knows the legal code inside and out, and he drives the citizens of his district crazy with his inflexible nitpicking. He tells off his own mother (Mary Gordon) for "throwing garbage" when she tosses some bread crumbs to birds!

Thanks to O'Malley's strict focus on the letter of the law over context and substance, John Phillips (Humphrey Bogart) is late to work, loses his job, and becomes a desperate man who ends up in jail.

O'Malley's captain (Donald Crisp) attempts to teach him a lesson by assigning him to school crossing guard duty, where he gets to know Phillips' little girl Barbara (Sybil Jason). Thanks to developing a fondness for Barbara and her teacher (Ann Sheridan), O'Malley decides to try to set things right for Barbara's father, getting him parole and a job.

Over the last couple of years I've been enjoying working my way through Pat O'Brien's filmography, but though I generally like Warner Bros. films of the '30s, in all honesty this is one of their sillier titles. If watching O'Brien be an absolute jerk for over half a movie is your idea of fun, then this is the movie for you! His character is simply insufferable, and due to the prolonged time it takes him to wake up and smell the coffee, this is not an especially pleasant film to watch.

It's fun to see the young Bogart and Sheridan, and Jason is a fairly cute tot, but the bottom line is that this isn't one of the more interesting films from Warner Bros.

The supporting cast also includes Frieda Inescort, Hobart Cavanagh, and Craig Reynolds.

THE GREAT O'MALLEY was directed by William Dieterle and filmed in black and white by Ernest Haller. It runs 71 minutes.

THE GREAT O'MALLEY is a good print. There are no extras.

Thanks to the Warner Archive for providing a review copy of this DVD. Warner Archive releases are MOD (manufactured on demand) and may be ordered from the Warner Archive Collection at the WBShop.


Blogger barrylane said...

Recently ran The original Front Page as part of The Criterion Collection blu ray presentation headlined by His Girl Friday -- about which their are not enough superlatives. The original, on a second disc as a bonus had Pat O'Brien and Adolphe Menjou in the lead, and you have them. Over the years I have seen a lot of O'Brien and like his work enormously, but not as either a romantic lead or a faux tough guy.
In warm serious parts, such as the detective in Til We Meet Again, or Father Duffy in The Fighting 69th, or as Cagney's priest/best friend in Angels With Dirty Faces, he glows. The guy was born to play avuncular. WB eventually got it.

11:06 AM  
Blogger Laura said...

I hope to get the HIS GIRL FRIDAY/THE FRONT PAGE set in a Criterion sale later this year!

The two roles that captured my interest in O'Brien were his warm role as an intelligence agent who falls in love with his faux wife and children in SECRET COMMAND (1944) and his wisecracking sort of tough guy in RIFFRAFF (1947). Since then I've seen many more O'Brien films (eight last year, nine the year before). It's true, he really does do the warm avuncular type parts especially well. I've not yet seen TIL WE MEET AGAIN or THE FIGHTING 69TH but both are in my "watch" stack, and I also plan to revisit ANGELS WITH DIRTY FACES for the first time in many years. Thanks for sharing your thoughts on this fine actor.

Best wishes,

11:53 AM  

Post a Comment

<< Home

Newer›  ‹Older