Taken from the Edwin O'Connor novel, this film is loosely based on the life of Boston's long-time mayor, James Curley. Mayor Skeffington (Curley) is the son of Irish immigrants whose mother worked as a maid for a wealthy Boston family. Through his endearing charm and personal style he rose to prominence in local politics. A "man of the people," Skeffington attends funerals, hands out money, and kisses babies. But his real work is getting the cooperation of the old establishment who keep him as an outsider by any means they can.