Salient. An Organ of Student Opinion at Victoria College, Wellington, N.Z. Vol. 15, No. 8. May 29, 1952
Film Reviews . . . — "The People Against Ohara"
Film Reviews . . .
"The People Against Ohara"
In spite of an impressive cast, "The People Against O'Hara" is just another Hollywood "tragedy." The producer tried to bring too much material into the one story—the small-time crook wrongly accused of murder, the retired lawyer who sacrifices his life to save his client the lawyer's devoted daughter who is wrecking her life to look after him, and the young D.A. who can"t see past his law books. All this makes the story sticky and pointless. Dlanna Lynn as the daughter does her best in an insipid role—it is the fault of the dialogue that she does not impress. Incidentally, her outburst against her father is completely out of character. Spencer Tracy as her father is good. He is natural in speech and gesture; as a tired old man he Is perhaps too true to be funny. But as a lawyer! "I once prosecuted twelve murder cases running, and never lost one," he says. If he didn't tell us we would never have known. In court he is outwitted by a common criminal, and at no stage does the script give him a chance to appear anything but a fool. The beat acting come from the Swedish sailor, the only eyewitness to the crime. He carries off a straight part with conviction, and makes no attempt to overplay it.
Best scene—Tracy's eulogy at a friend's funeral. "He was not the beat known lawyer, certainly not the best paid—he was just the best lawyer. Delivered in front of a stained [unclear: gla] window this speech was magnificent in its simplicity.
Worst scene—the farcical cross-examination of the people's withness who turned all Tracy's childish questions back on him.
The film gives a frightening picture of behind the scenes in American trials, with bribed witnesses, convictions on the evidence of accomplices alone, and everybody fighting to suppress the facia. The traditional manhunt through the dark streets is extremely well done and one gets the impression that here everyone is sure of his ground and not floating through a cloud of veiled moralising.