Critical response to the film was mixed. Abby Mann wrote the role of Judge Haywood with Tracy in mind; Tracy called it the best script he had ever read. " Brendan Gill of The New Yorker wrote that Tracy gave "a faultless and under the circumstances heartbreaking performance.
In 1999 the American Film Institute ranked Tracy as one of the top ten Hollywood legends. Respected for his natural style and versatility Tracy was one of the major stars of Hollywood's Golden Age. Tracy left MGM in 1955 and continued to work regularly as a freelance star despite an increasing weariness as he aged.