Edwin O’Connor’s The Last Hurrah—the Book and Movie

From Joseph Esposito, author of Dinner in Camelot, on Facebook:

In between watching the Democratic convention I focused on my intellectual exercise of the week, reading Edwin O’Connor’s book “The Last Hurrah” and watching the movie based on the book.

The novel, published in 1956, is the chronicling of the last campaign of a fictional big city mayor and political boss, Frank Skeffington. The book is loosely based on the life of James Curley and the city is most certainly Boston.

The novel is a glimpse into a bygone era of politics and the drawing of the curtain on that period. There are vivid characters, not the least is Skeffington, but there are also his hangers-on and his many political enemies, several of whom are Yankees who detest the invasion of the Irish politicos. Some of the best scenes are those of an Irish wake, full of humor and political machinations, and the sad but telling ending.

The book was made into a movie in 1958 with Spencer Tracy playing the lead role. Tracy, a great actor in any of his roles, really IS Frank Skeffington. The movie is a very faithful rendering of the book, even including much of its dialogue.

O’Connor wrote other books, including “All in the Family,” a fictional account of a Kennedy-type family. Another novel, “The Edge of Sadness,” received the Pulitzer Prize.

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