Great O’Malley, The (1937): William Dieterle’s Melodrama, Starring Pat O’Brien, Bogart, Ann Sheridan (Recycling, Remake)

William Dieterle directed The Great O’Malley, starring Pat O’Brien, Sybil Jason, Ann Sheridan. and Humphrey Bogart (before he became a major star).

In the same year, Dieterle made the Oscar winning picture, The Life of Emile Zola, starring Paul Muni.

The 1925 silent version The Making of O’Malley starred Milton Sills, Dorothy Mackaill and Helen Rowland.

reat O’Malley
The Great O'Malley 1937.jpg

Lobby card for the film.

James O’Malley (Pat O’Brien) is an overzealous officer who abides by the letter of the law and hands out citations for petty infractions.

He pulls over John Phillips (Bogart) for a noisy muffler, causing him to be late for arriving at his new job that would help him to take care of his wife (Frieda Inescort) and crippled daughter, Barbara (Sybil Jason).

After losing the job for being late, the desperate Phillips attempts to pawn his medals and revolver. The store owner does not want to pay him the items’ worth, enraging Phillips, who knock the clerk down, then takes money from the cash register. As a result, Phillips is arrested and sentenced to prison for robbery.

Meanwhile, O’Malley is ridiculed for being too hard, and gets demoted by Captain Cromwell (Donald Crisp) to be a school crossing guard for the same school where Phillips’ daughter attends.

Barbara and O’Malley strike up friendship, while he falls for her teacher, Judy Nolan (Ann Sheridan), whose disdain softens his martinet attitude.

After O’Malley finds out Barbara is the daughter of the man he had sent to jail, he provides for her and her mother, finds a physician to fix Barbara’s ailing leg, working out payment plan to fund it, and helps to get Phillips paroled.

Unaware of O’Malley’s help and seeking revenge, Phillips shoots the officer. Humanized by his experiences, O’Malley exonerates Phillips by claiming the shooting was accidental.

In the happy ending, the officer recovers and is reinstated to his old beat, getting his fellow officers’ respect and Judy’s love.

Pat O’Brien as James Aloysius O’Malley
Sybil Jason as Barbara “Babs” Phillips
Humphrey Bogart as John Phillips
Ann Sheridan as Judy Nolan
Frieda Inescort as Mrs. Phillips
Donald Crisp as Captain Cromwell
Henry O’Neill as Defense Attorney
Craig Reynolds as Motorist
Hobart Cavanaugh as Pinky Holden
Gordon Hart as Doctor
Mary Gordon as Mrs. O’Malley
Mabel Colcord as Mrs. Flaherty
Frank Sheridan as Father Patrick
Lillian Harmer as Miss Taylor
Delmar Watson as Tubby
Frank Reicher as Dr. Larson
Granville Bates as Jake, Bar Proprietor (uncredited)


Directed by William Dieterle
Screenplay by Milton Krims, Tom Reed, based on The Making of O’Malley 1924 story in Redbook by Gerald Beaumont
Produced by Jack L. Warner, Hal B. Wallis
Cinematography Ernest Haller
Edited by Warren Low
Music by Heinz Roemheld
Distributed by Warner

Release date: February 13, 1937

Running time: 71 minutes