The People Against O'Hara (1951)

101-102 mins | Drama | 7 September 1951

Director:

John Sturges

Writer:

John Monks, Jr.

Producer:

William H. Wright

Cinematographer:

John Alton

Editor:

Gene Ruggiero

Production Designers:

Cedric Gibbons, James Basevi

Production Company:

Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Corp.
Full page view
HISTORY

According to HR news items, much of the film was shot on location in New York City. Specific locations included the Criminal Courts Building and the Fulton Fish Market. Other news items noted that Larry Keating was being tested for a role, and assistant director Bert Glazer and studio executive J. J. Cohen filled in for director John Sturges when Sturges was ill from a viral infection. According to news items in Var , New York attorney Gustave B. Garfield claimed that Eleazer Lipsy, who sold his novel to M-G-M for $40,000, had edited Garfield's short story "Murder in Jest," and used it as the basis for his novel. Garfield sued both Lipsky and M-G-M, but the suit was dropped when M-G-M bought the rights to Garfield's story for $5,000. A Lux Radio Theatre adaptation of the film was broadcast on 9 Mar 1953, starring Walter Pidgeon and Janet ... More Less

According to HR news items, much of the film was shot on location in New York City. Specific locations included the Criminal Courts Building and the Fulton Fish Market. Other news items noted that Larry Keating was being tested for a role, and assistant director Bert Glazer and studio executive J. J. Cohen filled in for director John Sturges when Sturges was ill from a viral infection. According to news items in Var , New York attorney Gustave B. Garfield claimed that Eleazer Lipsy, who sold his novel to M-G-M for $40,000, had edited Garfield's short story "Murder in Jest," and used it as the basis for his novel. Garfield sued both Lipsky and M-G-M, but the suit was dropped when M-G-M bought the rights to Garfield's story for $5,000. A Lux Radio Theatre adaptation of the film was broadcast on 9 Mar 1953, starring Walter Pidgeon and Janet Leigh. More Less

SOURCE CITATIONS
SOURCE
DATE
PAGE
Box Office
25 Aug 1951.
---
Daily Variety
21 Aug 51
p. 3.
Film Daily
22 Aug 51
p. 6.
Hollywood Reporter
30 Jan 51
p. 11.
Hollywood Reporter
20 Feb 51
p. 8.
Hollywood Reporter
28 Feb 51
p. 14.
Hollywood Reporter
5 Mar 51
p. 5.
Hollywood Reporter
14 Mar 51
p. 1.
Hollywood Reporter
16 Mar 51
p. 12.
Hollywood Reporter
20 Apr 51
p. 10.
Hollywood Reporter
21 Aug 51
p. 3.
Motion Picture Herald Product Digest
25 Aug 51
p. 989.
New York Times
4 Sep 51
p. 23.
New York Times
6 Sep 51
p. 39.
Variety
21 Mar 1951.
---
Variety
11 Jul 1951.
---
Variety
22 Aug 51
p. 10.
CAST
NAME
CREDITED AS
CREDIT
Don Dillaway
Lawrence Tolan
Sailor Billy Vincent
Charles Buchinsky
+
PRODUCTION CREDITS
NAME
PARENT COMPANY
DISTRIBUTION COMPANY
NAME
CREDITED AS
CREDIT
DIRECTORS
Asst dir and fill-in dir
Fill-In dir
2d asst dir
PRODUCER
WRITER
PHOTOGRAPHY
Dir of photog
ART DIRECTORS
Art dir
Art dir
FILM EDITOR
Film ed
SET DECORATORS
Set dec
Set dec
COSTUMES
Diana Lynn's cost des
MUSIC
SOUND
Rec supv
VISUAL EFFECTS
Spec eff
MAKEUP
Hair styles des
Makeup created by
PRODUCTION MISC
Bus mgr
SOURCES
LITERARY
Based on the novel The People Against O'Hara by Eleazar Lipsky (New York, 1950).
DETAILS
Release Date:
7 September 1951
Premiere Information:
New York opening: 4 September 1951
Production Date:
New York City location filming late February--early March 1951
studio filming mid March--early April 1951
Copyright Claimant:
Loew's Inc.
Copyright Date:
20 August 1951
Copyright Number:
LP1142
Physical Properties:
Sound
Western Electric Sound Sysytem
Black and White
Duration(in mins):
101-102
Length(in feet):
9,179
Length(in reels):
11
Country:
United States
Language:
English
PCA No:
15321
Passed by NBR:
Yes
SYNOPSIS

As fishmarket owner William Sheffield is robbed and murdered outside his New York City home, Swedish seaman Sven Norson observes the crime from across the street. The police soon find the getaway car and fingerprints of ex-con Frankie Korvac, a Sheffield employee who names co-worker Johnny O'Hara as his accomplice and the triggerman. When plainclothes detective Vince Ricks goes to arrest Johnny, he runs away, fearful that Ricks is a henchman for gangster Knuckles Lanzetta, the older husband of the woman with whom Johnny is having an affair. Johnny's parents call former criminal law attorney James P. Curtayne, hoping that he will defend their son, whom Jim had gotten out of trouble as a youth. At first recovering alcoholic Jim refuses the case, in deference to his protective daughter Ginny, but soon acquiesces. Johnny will not tell Jim that he was with Mrs. Lanzetta when the murder took place and will not explain why he has been keeping a gun. Although the case seems weak, ambitious District Attorney Louis Barra is convinced that he will win because Johnny recently argued with Sheffield, and Frankie swears that Johnny planned to kill their boss for a gold bar he kept in a suitcase that was found in Johnny's car. While Ginny tells her long-time boyfriend, Jeff Chapman, that she cannot marry him because her father needs her, Jim goes to see Knuckles. Knuckles has no idea who the murderer is, but tells Jim that the day before he died, Sheffield had bragged that he would soon repay a $20,000 loan. At the start of the trial, Jim is in top form, but when he repeatedly fails ... +


As fishmarket owner William Sheffield is robbed and murdered outside his New York City home, Swedish seaman Sven Norson observes the crime from across the street. The police soon find the getaway car and fingerprints of ex-con Frankie Korvac, a Sheffield employee who names co-worker Johnny O'Hara as his accomplice and the triggerman. When plainclothes detective Vince Ricks goes to arrest Johnny, he runs away, fearful that Ricks is a henchman for gangster Knuckles Lanzetta, the older husband of the woman with whom Johnny is having an affair. Johnny's parents call former criminal law attorney James P. Curtayne, hoping that he will defend their son, whom Jim had gotten out of trouble as a youth. At first recovering alcoholic Jim refuses the case, in deference to his protective daughter Ginny, but soon acquiesces. Johnny will not tell Jim that he was with Mrs. Lanzetta when the murder took place and will not explain why he has been keeping a gun. Although the case seems weak, ambitious District Attorney Louis Barra is convinced that he will win because Johnny recently argued with Sheffield, and Frankie swears that Johnny planned to kill their boss for a gold bar he kept in a suitcase that was found in Johnny's car. While Ginny tells her long-time boyfriend, Jeff Chapman, that she cannot marry him because her father needs her, Jim goes to see Knuckles. Knuckles has no idea who the murderer is, but tells Jim that the day before he died, Sheffield had bragged that he would soon repay a $20,000 loan. At the start of the trial, Jim is in top form, but when he repeatedly fails to break Frankie's testimony, Jim is despondent and has a bitter argument with Ginny after starting to take a drink. One afternoon, Ricks, who is an old friend of Jim, tells him that there is a secret eyewitness who has approached Barra. After Ricks leaves the bar, Jim orders a drink and is approached by Norson, who implies that he might be willing to change his story for money. Though initially repelled, Jim follows Norson to a table, writes him a check for $500, then gets drunk. When Norson takes the witness stand the next day, Jim is shocked that he is sticking with his orginal story, then sees the $500 check in Barra's hand. O'Hara is convicted, after which Barra berates Jim but does not immediately file bribery charges. A few days later, at the funeral of a mutual friend, Ricks tells Jim that an attractive woman claiming to be Johnny's sister had attempted to visit him. Suspicious, Jim asks Johnny's parents to look through his things and finds an Italian-English dictionary and a receipt for a postal box. The postal clerk will not let Jim get Johnny's mail without a key, but Jim looks through the window of the box and sees a letter addressed in a woman's handwriting. Suspicious that the woman could be Knuckles' attractive young wife, Jim confronts her. Although frightened that her husband will learn of her affair, she tells Jim, then Barra and Ricks, that she was with Johnny the night of the murder. Barra believes her, but her statement would not hold up in court as Johnny protectively refuses to corroborate her story. Under further questioning, she reveals that Knuckles was very interested in Johnny's trial and once made a comment to a cohort implying that the suitcase was hiding something "right under our eyes." On a hunch, Barra has the suitcase taken to the narcotics unit, where agents find $200,000 worth of dope hidden in the lining. Now working with both Barra and Ricks's help, Jim goes to Knuckles and says that he needs to call in a long-owed favor. Knuckles reveals that he did learn who killed Sheffield and agrees to help in exchange for the suitcase, which Jim says has just been released to him. Jim goes to the meeting place, Sheffield's house, wearing a police wire, with Barra and Ricks nearby. When the wire does not work properly inside the house, Jim realizes that he is in grave danger and calls Ginny, who is decorating their Christmas tree. He is casual with her, then asks to speak with Jeff, and sternly tells him to marry and take care of Ginny. A moment later, James Korvac, Frankie's older brother, who is a large man like Johnny, approaches the house. Korvac reveals that he has killed Knuckles, then takes Jim for a walk at gunpoint. Although plainclothes narcotics officer Betty Clark tries to distract Korvac, a shootout ensues when Frankie's brother Angelo drives up in a getaway van. Jim is mortally wounded before the police can move in and capture the brothers. Barra tells Ricks that he will not file bribery charges, but learns that it is too late to tell Jim. +

Legend
Viewed by AFI
Partially Viewed
Offscreen Credit
Name Occurs Before Title
AFI Life Achievement Award

TOP SEARCHES

CASABLANCA

During World War II, Casablanca, Morocco is a waiting point for throngs of desperate refugees fleeing Nazi-occupied Europe. Exit visas, which are necessary to leave the country, are at ... >>

CITIZEN KANE

Seventy-year-old newspaper tycoon Charles Foster Kane dies in his palatial Florida home, Xanadu, after uttering the single word “Rosebud.” While watching a newsreel summarizing the years during which Kane ... >>

REAR WINDOW

Laid up with a broken leg during the height of summer, renowned New York magazine photographer L. B. “Jeff” Jeffries enters his last week of home confinement, bored and ... >>

RAGING BULL

In 1941, at a boxing match in Cleveland, Ohio, pandemonium breaks out when Jake La Motta, an up-and-coming young boxer, loses a decision to Jimmy Reeves, suffering his first ... >>

CITY LIGHTS

At an outdoor dedication ceremony, a tramp is discovered sleeping in the arms of a statue as it is being unveiled before a crowd. He is chased into ... >>

The American Film Institute is grateful to Sir Paul Getty KBE and the Sir Paul Getty KBE Estate for their dedication to the art of the moving image and their support for the AFI Catalog of Feature Films and without whose support AFI would not have been able to achieve this historical landmark in this epic scholarly endeavor.