The Last Hurrah (1958)

120-122 mins | Comedy-drama | November 1958

Director:

John Ford

Writer:

Frank S. Nugent

Producer:

John Ford

Cinematographer:

Charles "Bud" Lawton

Editor:

Jack Murray

Production Designer:

Robert Peterson

Production Company:

Columbia Pictures Corp.
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HISTORY

Edwin O'Connor's novel was loosely based on the life of Boston's Irish-American political boss, James M. Curley (1874--1958). Colorful and shrewd, Curley was the four-term Democratic mayor of Boston, the governor of Massachusetts and a two-term Congressman. Even though he was convicted of mail fraud in 1947, he continued to serve as mayor, and in 1950 received a full pardon from President Harry S. Truman. O'Connor's novel was purportedly based on Curley's failed 1949 mayoral campaign.
       The publication of the novel generated considerable controversy and a lawsuit. In Aug 1958, LAT reported that Curley filed a lawsuit against Columbia, arguing that the film would constitute an invasion of privacy, as well as damage the prospects of any film adaptation of his autobiography, I'd Do It Again . According to Var , Columbia argued in court that it had a signed and notarized agreement with Curley releasing the studio from any liability in connection with the film in exchange for $25,000. Curley denied signing the agreement, and both the notary and Curley's agent, James E. Sullivan, to whom the studio made the payment, had disappeared. In its review, MPHPD pointed out that the two sides later settled the lawsuit out of court.
       HR news items yield the following information about the film: In Sep 1956, James Cagney was mentioned to star. A 21 Mar 1958 item noted that veteran producer-director David Butler was to play the part of "Jack Mangan," but had to withdraw because of previous commitments. Although various news items from Feb--Apr 1958 place Paul Behrer, Stubby Kruger, Larry Wallace, Harvey Lopez, Snub ... More Less

Edwin O'Connor's novel was loosely based on the life of Boston's Irish-American political boss, James M. Curley (1874--1958). Colorful and shrewd, Curley was the four-term Democratic mayor of Boston, the governor of Massachusetts and a two-term Congressman. Even though he was convicted of mail fraud in 1947, he continued to serve as mayor, and in 1950 received a full pardon from President Harry S. Truman. O'Connor's novel was purportedly based on Curley's failed 1949 mayoral campaign.
       The publication of the novel generated considerable controversy and a lawsuit. In Aug 1958, LAT reported that Curley filed a lawsuit against Columbia, arguing that the film would constitute an invasion of privacy, as well as damage the prospects of any film adaptation of his autobiography, I'd Do It Again . According to Var , Columbia argued in court that it had a signed and notarized agreement with Curley releasing the studio from any liability in connection with the film in exchange for $25,000. Curley denied signing the agreement, and both the notary and Curley's agent, James E. Sullivan, to whom the studio made the payment, had disappeared. In its review, MPHPD pointed out that the two sides later settled the lawsuit out of court.
       HR news items yield the following information about the film: In Sep 1956, James Cagney was mentioned to star. A 21 Mar 1958 item noted that veteran producer-director David Butler was to play the part of "Jack Mangan," but had to withdraw because of previous commitments. Although various news items from Feb--Apr 1958 place Paul Behrer, Stubby Kruger, Larry Wallace, Harvey Lopez, Snub Pollard, Sam O'Reilly, Irving Schwartz, Rod Gray Eagle, Suzanne Maurer, Sven Thommsen and Hans Gerhardt in the cast, their appearance in the released film has not been confirmed. Jeffrey Hunter was borrowed from Twentieth Century-Fox to appear in the film. Long-time character actor James Gleason (1886--1959) made his final feature film appearance in The Last Hurrah . According to DV , the film was produced for $2,500,000. Modern sources include James Waters in the cast. O'Connor's novel was also the basis for a 1977 television film of the same name, starring Carroll O'Connor and directed by Vincent Sherman. More Less

BIBLIOGRAPHIC SOURCES
SOURCE
DATE
PAGE
Box Office
20 Oct 1958.
---
Daily Variety
3 Sep 1958.
---
Daily Variety
12 Sep 1958.
---
Daily Variety
15 Oct 58
p. 3.
Film Daily
17 Oct 58
p. 6.
Harrison's Reports
18 Oct 56
pp. 166-67.
Hollywood Reporter
7 Sep 1956
p. 1.
Hollywood Reporter
30 Jan 1958
p. 2.
Hollywood Reporter
19 Feb 1958
p. 4.
Hollywood Reporter
7 Mar 1958
p. 2.
Hollywood Reporter
21 Mar 1958
p. 3.
Hollywood Reporter
25 Mar 1958
p. 2.
Hollywood Reporter
2 Apr 1958
p. 3.
Hollywood Reporter
9 Apr 1958
p. 2.
Hollywood Reporter
21 Apr 1958
p. 2.
Hollywood Reporter
23 Apr 1958
p. 2.
Hollywood Reporter
24 Apr 1958
p. 3.
Hollywood Reporter
9 May 1958
p. 8.
Hollywood Reporter
15 Oct 58
p. 3.
Los Angeles Times
20 Aug 1958.
---
Motion Picture Herald Product Digest
25 Oct 58
p. 29.
New York Times
27 Apr 1958.
---
New York Times
24 Oct 58
p. 40.
The Exhibitor
15 Oct 58
p. 4521.
Variety
10 Sep 1958.
---
Variety
15 Oct 58
p. 6.
CAST
NAME
CREDITED AS
CREDIT
Charlie Sullivan
Charles Hicks
Edward Featherstone
Tommy Jackson
Charles Anthony Hughes
Dick Keene
Rolland Jones
Harvey Perry
+
PRODUCTION CREDITS
NAME
PARENT COMPANY
PRODUCTION COMPANY
PRODUCTION TEXT
A John Ford Production
DISTRIBUTION COMPANY
NAME
CREDITED AS
CREDIT
DIRECTORS
Dir
Asst dir
Asst dir
PRODUCER
Prod
PHOTOGRAPHY
Background photog
ART DIRECTOR
Art dir
FILM EDITOR
Film ed
SET DECORATORS
Set dec
Master prop
COSTUMES
Gowns
SOUND
Rec supv
MAKEUP
Hair styles
SOURCES
LITERARY
Based on the novel The Last Hurrah by Edwin O'Connor (Boston, 1956).
DETAILS
Release Date:
November 1958
Premiere Information:
New York opening: 23 October 1958
Los Angeles opening: 29 October 1958
Production Date:
24 February--24 April 1958
addl seq 8 May 1958
Copyright Claimant:
Columbia Pictures Corp.
Copyright Date:
1 November 1958
Copyright Number:
LP12756
Physical Properties:
Sound
RCA Sound Recording
Black and White
Duration(in mins):
120-122
Length(in feet):
12,000
Length(in reels):
12
Country:
United States
Language:
English
PCA No:
19086
SYNOPSIS

Frank Skeffington, the Irish-American mayor of a large New England city, descends his staircase, pausing, as he does every morning, to place a fresh rose by the portrait of his deceased wife. At the bottom of the stairs wait his secretary, the city wardheelers and various aides, and outside the office door is the usual crowd of noisy constituents. Skeffington's staff notes that Amos Force's newspaper opposes the mayor's recently announced bid for a fifth term, even though the two major opposing candidates are unimpressive: Charles J. Hennessey, a longtime but harmless opponent, and Kevin McCluskey, a young naval hero with few ideas of his own. In Force's newsroom, the sour old publisher is planning a series of articles in support of McCluskey, not because he respects the younger candidate but because he despises Skeffington. Adam Caulfield, the writer of the paper's popular sports column and Skeffington's nephew, asks his uncle why Force so dislikes him. Skeffington reveals that his own mother, once a maid in the home of Force's father, was humiliated and then fired by the elder Force for stealing two overripe bananas and a small apple, a "crime" usually accepted by the wealthy Yankees who employed poor Irish immigrants. The Force family had never forgiven their maid's son for becoming mayor of the city. During this conversation, Skeffington asks Adam to cover his re-election campaign "from the inside." Uninterested in politics, but fascinated by his sometimes unethical but always humane uncle, Adam agrees, much to the chagrin of his wife Maeve and her father, Roger Sugrue. Nevertheless, Adam's respect and affection for his uncle, emotions not expressed by Skeffington's playboy ... +


Frank Skeffington, the Irish-American mayor of a large New England city, descends his staircase, pausing, as he does every morning, to place a fresh rose by the portrait of his deceased wife. At the bottom of the stairs wait his secretary, the city wardheelers and various aides, and outside the office door is the usual crowd of noisy constituents. Skeffington's staff notes that Amos Force's newspaper opposes the mayor's recently announced bid for a fifth term, even though the two major opposing candidates are unimpressive: Charles J. Hennessey, a longtime but harmless opponent, and Kevin McCluskey, a young naval hero with few ideas of his own. In Force's newsroom, the sour old publisher is planning a series of articles in support of McCluskey, not because he respects the younger candidate but because he despises Skeffington. Adam Caulfield, the writer of the paper's popular sports column and Skeffington's nephew, asks his uncle why Force so dislikes him. Skeffington reveals that his own mother, once a maid in the home of Force's father, was humiliated and then fired by the elder Force for stealing two overripe bananas and a small apple, a "crime" usually accepted by the wealthy Yankees who employed poor Irish immigrants. The Force family had never forgiven their maid's son for becoming mayor of the city. During this conversation, Skeffington asks Adam to cover his re-election campaign "from the inside." Uninterested in politics, but fascinated by his sometimes unethical but always humane uncle, Adam agrees, much to the chagrin of his wife Maeve and her father, Roger Sugrue. Nevertheless, Adam's respect and affection for his uncle, emotions not expressed by Skeffington's playboy son "Junior," increase as he attends rallies and other campaign events. At the wake of Knocko Minihan, Adam is at first outraged when Skeffington fills the widow's house with his supporters, who hand out cigars while conducting ward business. Skeffington's manager, John Gorman, explains that while admittedly trying to promote his campaign, Skeffington has nonetheless succeeded in packing the wake of the universally disliked Minihan with well-wishers, a fact that deeply touches the grieving widow. When Adam later hears Skeffington threaten to take greedy undertaker Johnny Degnan before his licensing board unless he reduces the high cost of the services, Adam becomes his uncle's avid supporter. After the funeral, Skeffington learns that the city's bankers have decided not to provide the loan needed to clean up one of the city's worst slums. Furious, he and his cronies invade the exclusive Plymouth Club, where banker Norman Cass, Sr. is lunching with a group of Skeffington detractors, among them Force and Bishop Gardner. Skeffington begs the men not to use the housing project as a political football, but Cass and his associates remain adamant. That afternoon, Skeffington flatters Cass's simpering son into becoming the fire commissioner. The next day, the mayor shows the elder Cass a photograph of his son, looking particularly foolish in his fireman's helmet, and asks, "Do I announce the appointment?" Cass agrees to provide the loan in exchange for the embarrassing photograph. Soon the Plymouth Club becomes the site of McCluskey's campaign headquarters, and the young candidate begins to make numerous television appearances. On the night before the election, Skeffington has dinner with Adam and Maeve and finally succeeds in charming the young woman. After the couple votes, however, she smilingly refuses to reveal her choice to her husband. As the returns begin to come in, Skeffington's campaign headquarters is noisy and upbeat, but it soon becomes apparent that McCluskey has won the election by a landslide. After hearing the television reporter describe the election as the biggest political upset in the city's history, Skeffington warmly congratulates his opponent and announces that he now plans to run for governor. The mayor then walks home alone as McCluskey's raucous victory parade fills the streets. Shrugging sheepishly at the portrait of his wife, Skeffington begins to climb the stairs but suddenly suffers a heart attack and collapses. The next day, as Skeffington rests in bed, scores of well-wishers appear outside the mayor's residence. Though his doctor orders him to see no one, Skeffington insists on saying goodbye to his old friends. Sugrue disdainfully asserts that if he had it to do over again, Skeffington would surely live his life differently. Barely able to open his eyes, Skeffington exclaims, "Like hell I would!" and dies. +

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

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