(Martin Pawley) Jeff has his best role of the decade in John Ford's classic western. With a Confederate veteran (John Wayne), he embarks on a five-year search for Wayne's niece (Natalie Wood), who had been abducted by Comanche Indians. Also starring Vera Miles, Ward Bond, Harry Carey Jr., and Patrick Wayne, John Wayne's son.
(Lt. Tom Cantrell, counsel for the defense) In his last film for director John Ford, Jeff is stalwart and sincere as a U.S. Cavalry legal officer defending a black sergeant wrongly accused of the rape and murder of a white girl. Woody Strode gives a strong performance as the accused in this ground-breaking Western focused on the (at the time) rarely-touched subject of racism. Also with Constance Towers, Juano Hernandez, Willis Bouchey, and Billie Burke.
(Adam Caulfield) Jeff is a likeable, sympathetic newspaper reporter invited by his uncle, an old-time Irish politician, to enjoy a ringside seat during the man’s last campaign, for mayor of an unnamed New England City. (Frank Skeffington, the politician, is played superbly as both generous man and rogue by Spencer Tracy). A fine John Ford comedy-drama based on Edwin O’Connor’s best-selling novel about the passing of old New England politics. Besides newcomer Dianne Foster as Jeff’s bride, the cast includes some of the screen’s greatest character actors and actresses in what for many of them was their swan song: Basil Rathbone, Pat O’Brien, John Carradine, James Gleason, Donald Crisp, Frank McHugh, Edward Brophy, Edmund Lowe, Wallace Ford, Ricardo Cortez, Anna Lee, and Jane Darwell, many of whom had been John Ford Stock Company players for decades.
QUOTE from Jeff: "I was told I had arrived when, during the filming of The Searchers, they gave me almost as much ammunition as they gave John Wayne."
Jeff's friend Robert Wagner also sought the role of Martin Pawley, without success.
The well-known Buddy Holly song "That'll Be the Day" was inspired by Wayne's frequent "That'll be the day!"s in The Searchers.
In the late 1950's, this film project was originally intended for director Andre De Toth. De Toth later directed Jeff in Gold for the Caesars (1963).
Sergeant Rutledge was Billie Burke's last film.
The Last Hurrah was based on the best-selling novel by Edwin O'Connor. A case can be made that the character of Frank Skeffington is based on the real-life Massachusetts politician James Michael Curley, though O'Connor denied this.
Jeff's character Adam Caulfield is a newspaper cartoonist in the novel; he is a sports writer in the film. Jack Lemmon was considered for the role before Jeff was cast.