Last Hurrah, The (1958)

Last Hurrah, The (1958)

“I’d prefer an engaging rogue to a complete fool.”

An aging mayor (Spencer Tracy) with plenty of Irish-Catholic supporters invites his reporter-nephew (Jeffrey Hunter) to observe his final campaign for re-election, in which his primary opponent (Charles B. Fitzsimons) is funded by a corrupt newspaper publisher (John Carradine) and banker (Basil Rathbone).

Genres, Themes, Actors, and Directors:

  • Anna Lee Films
  • Basil Rathbone Films
  • Donald Crisp Films
  • Jeffrey Hunter Films
  • John Carradine Films
  • John Ford Films
  • Journalists
  • Pat O’Brien Films
  • Political Corruption
  • Spencer Tracy Films

Twenty-eight years after Spencer Tracy made his screen debut in John Ford’s Up the River (1930), the two re-teamed for this adaptation of Edwin O’Connor’s 1956 novel about what DVD Savant refers to as “crony politics” (is there any other kind?). Indeed, Tracy’s Frank Skeffington is far from innocent or naive, playing plenty of well-worn “games” to get what he wants and needs (albeit on behalf of his community).

The biggest divide between Tracy’s Frank Skeffington and Fitzsimons’ Kevin McCluskey — other than their ethnic and religious heritage (Catholic versus Protestant) — is campaign style, with television making a huge difference for the younger candidate:

Indeed, we see ample evidence of nearly everyone under fifty (excepting Hunter and his wife) being addle-brained and easily manipulated, as when Tracy bribes his political enemy’s son (O.Z. Whitehead) with a position as “fire chief”:

… or any of the several times we see Tracy’s own son (Arthur Walsh) breezing in and out of various events with immense privilege and ignorance:

There’s not much to the storyline other than following Tracy around on voting day, and waiting to see how things turn out; to that end, the voting tally sequence is appropriately tense and well-filmed.

Meanwhile, Ford fans will likely enjoy seeing a bevy of his stock actors (too many to list) in various supporting roles.

Notable Performances, Qualities, and Moments:

  • Spencer Tracy as Frank Skeffington
  • Charles Lawton Jr.’s cinematography

Must See?
No, though Ford fans will of course want to see it.


One thought on “Last Hurrah, The (1958)

  1. Rewatch. Not must-see.

    Engaging-enough; somewhat talky but there’s some sharp dialogue. The cast is sturdy. Tracy is enjoyable and makes the watch worthwhile.

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