The Last Hurrah | Chicago Reader

The Last Hurrah

John Ford's 1958 film looks like a family wake, only it isn't his family that he's invited. As the familiar faces glide past—Spencer Tracy, Pat O'Brien, Basil Rathbone, Edward Brophy, James Gleason, Ricardo Cortez, Wallace Ford, Frank McHugh—all at or near the end of their careers, it feels as if Ford is holding a funeral for a lost Hollywood. But it isn't his Hollywood; these aren't his people—which may account for the film's strangely cool, distanced tone. Edwin O'Connor's novel, about the last campaign of an old-time political boss, seems to have touched something deep in Ford, but the feelings—for the passing of a tradition, of a way of life—remain inchoate, generalized, detached. The film stands as a haunting failure. 121 min.

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