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.