Aging Irish-Catholic politico Frank Skeffington (Tracy) is running for re-election one last time as mayor of an unnamed New England town. He still has a large following, but his chief political foes, wealthy banker Norman Cass, Sr. (Rathbone) and conservative newspaper editor Amos Force (Carradine), paint him as a relic standing in the way of progress. Skeffington’s nephew Adam (Hunter) happens to work for Force and covers the lead-up to the election. He grows close to his roguish uncle as Skeffington campaigns in the dawning age of television. Will the old warrior prevail one last time?
Adapted from Edwin O’Connor’s popular novel, John Ford’s solidly old-fashioned drama is a thinly veiled biography of the long-serving Boston mayor James Michael Curley. Tracy is at the peak of his powers here. Surrounded by a colorful cast, he gives a commanding performance as the ruthless, rule-breaking politician, whose time may be past. Tracy was Oscar-nominated for “The Old Man and the Sea” the same year, which may have overshadowed his great work here. Ford’s revealing film shows that not much has really changed in politics. “Hurrah” indeed!