But he does have enemies. Tracy's character is Irish, born in poverty, working his way up to power. The old-time Yankee bluebloods, especially Carradine and the heads of all the banks, have tried to get him out of office. Even the city's cardinal, Donald Crisp, is against him. But because Tracy is willing to roll up his sleeves and meet with the people, he's been returned to office every time.
Some of the time this film is interesting, particularly how it shows an old-time pol like Tracy making deals. When the bankers, led by Basil Rathbone, turn down a loan for a low-income housing project, Tracy blackmails Rathbone by offering his nincompoop son a job as fire commissioner. Realizing that his son will be made a laughing stock, Rathbone gives in. The ethical lapse, we are led to believe, is okay because Tracy is doing it for the poor.
Mostly this film is pretty toothless. A year earlier there was a much more biting look at politics with A Face in the Crowd. The Last Hurrah is pretty bland in comparison. Tracy is a joy and wears the role effortlessly, but after it was over I felt I didn't really learn anything. True enough, there are shifts in how politics are conducted and some politicians get left by the side of the road (consider how Obama used the Internet, compared to McCain, who admitted he didn't know how to use it at all). This film just didn't go the full length in examining the issue. Perhaps if Ford had been less sentimental about his lead character, and made him a bit more corrupt (as certainly all big-city mayors were, to some extent) this film would have been more compelling.