I like delving into nostalgia like this. Sometimes the past can make you lonesome. On the contrary, this type of remembering just makes me smile.
You might like a little movie viewing for this Irish holiday. Here are my choices that match the day that’s in it. Lots of you will know these incredibly well. Others will not. Whether you like them or not is up to you. Each and everyone are classics of Irish TV and will be found on the box when we wear the green.
A tale of two children with a fabulous surname, Dove. They must get away from their wicked uncle Tobias and find their Granny who lives in County Galway in Ireland. A true fairytale! I have blogged about fairy stories recently and all the elements are here. See Hairy Tales. I loved watching this as a kid. Watching out for Dana’s (Dana-Irish Eurovision winner) small role. Seeing Killeen’s in Shannonbridge as a film location is a fun thrill for a midlander.
This gimmicky classic may not be the food of Oscars, but it is full of quirky moments that I love. Listening to the random, cringey big song and dance number ‘You don’t have to be Irish to be Irish!’, counting the cameos from Irish TV and stage actors, watching kids win, beating the bad guy- it is full of fun.
This book is a must read if you haven’t already. The film plays up the brogue, the stereotypes and the shamrockery. The book is just golden without gimmick. For today however, I want the movie.
2.Darby O’Gill and the Little People
This is a typically overly Irishy, ‘sure and begorrah’ style story. Leprechauns, crocks of gold and banshees are all present on this colourful Disney production. There is something however that differentiates this film from the Finian’s Rainbows of this world which is the comedic performance from Jimmy O’Dea and Albert Sharpe. This relationship of mutual respect and fear, control and power makes this film more than watchable. Every other performance is feeble and fake, especially Sean Connery who manages to make his Irish accent as dreadful as Chris O’Donnell did in Circle of Friends and Tom Cruise in Far and Away. As a child, this didn’t matter. It doesn’t now, in the way squeezey cheese might be a need over Brie just for once! I once loved the love story. I laughed at Darby and the King of the Leprechauns as they tried to outwit one another. I also was TERRIFIED of the banshee. I fondly remember watching with my cousins in my Granny’s house, days gone by that cannot return and this makes me love this film more. Brilliantly frightening for the time it was made, it is a class act. A must for today. If only to see Sean Connery have a crack at singing. (See below if you are brave). There is a reason Bond doesn’t hit the high notes.
Almost as scary as the banshee!! Oh my dear, my darling one.
3. The Quiet Man
I can just imagine John Ford telling this cast that they were doing this movie. Travelling on location to the lovely village of Cong in Ireland is alwas a pleasure. John Wayne, Victor McLaglen, Maureen O’ Hara, Ward Bond (director’s brother)- all part of those favourite westerns filmed in Utah Valley. Remember Rio Bravo? Rio Grande? She Wore a Yellow Ribbon?
John Wayne plays out of typecast here. Not a cowboy, he is an ex-boxer of Irish emigrant parents, returning to Ireland from the States to start a new life and forget his troubles in the ring. The love story begins the moment he claps eyes on red haired beauty Mary Kate Danaher, played by the marvellous Maureen O’Hara. Matchmaking, drinking, fighting, singing- this film has many stereotypes but they are brilliantly portrayed. The fight scene is entertainment as a section alone, one liners galore and you really don’t know who will win as brother in law fights brother in law over dowry, pride and stubbornness. Immensely quotable, my friend and I have been known to have an entire text conversation in Quiet Man film quotes.
4. Into the West
A bit modern for my Dad (made in the nineties), I have to include this story. Children from the flats in Ballymun are trying desperately to save this beautiful white horse that had come into their lives. They call her Tir na nOg, after the mythical island in Irish lore where you remain youthful always. They love westerns and poignantly confuse the Wild West for the western Ireland coast, making their way across the centre of Ireland (much like Flight of the Doves) in a sweet, innocent tale with underlining dark themes of grief, prejudice and alcoholism. The acting, plot and wonderful characters make this film classic. Acting roles from classic performers David Kelly (Stardust, Waking Ned) and Gabriel Byrne (The Usual Suspects, The Devil’s Own) are stellar and evoke true emotion- people cry watching this film. This movie isn’t all shamrocks and high kicks. Instead it uses mysticism, folklore and the Irish traveller traditions and customs as plot intrigues. Very much for today. Be warned: this is a tearjerker.
One memorable line in the film occurs when the younger brother plaintively begs his older brother not to leave him on his own. His accent is a funny mixture of Hollywood Irish and various counties so his ‘Don’t leave me Tito’ becomes ‘Don’t lave me Tayto’, phonetically. In my early teens this was hilarious. Tayto are our favourite brand crisps (potato chips) in Ireland. Many the day we spent talking to our crisps, reinacting the scene begging the crisps not to leave us.
5. The Field
This is my field.
This film was adapted from a John B. Keane play of the same name. My school play in 1995, I knew it inside out for Junior Cert exams. The film made an appearance in the nineties also and we loved it. Not fully true to the text, yet it makes its own mark. Richard Harris, John Hurt, Sean Bean, Brenda Fricker- stellar cast. Again, tremendously quotable and often the lines are thrown mid conversation into any Irish chat. It has been parodied many times-sure sign of its quality!
The theme of land ownership drives at the heart of Irish history. Passions run high in this battle as a domineering, bullying local farmer demands his rights to a field over a ‘blow in Yank’ (the play makes the buyer British, not American). Bull McCabe has sweated blood over this rented field to make it good. It is interesting to see that Bull is right in many ways, yet his overly aggressive (bullish) manner makes him wrong and has fatal consequences. A fantastic Irish story, both play and film deserve viewing.
So enjoy my choices! Rare sun peeping through the clouds here. Later, I will get the Tayto out and we will curl up to a classic for the day.