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The Irish on Film - Sundays in March


During the month containing St. Patrick's Day (March 17), TCM celebrates denizens of the Emerald Isle with a weekly showcase of movies set in Ireland and/or starring actors and actresses of Irish descent. Three of the films are from master director John Ford, who was born in Maine to Irish parents.

A standby of stage and screen, Peg o' My Heart will be shown in its 1933 screen version. Marion Davies stars as the poor but spirited colleen from an Irish fishing village who stands to inherit a fortune but clashes with her more cultured relatives. Robert Z. Leonard directed.

The Irish in Us (1935) stars James Cagney, Pat O'Brien and Frank McHugh as three Irish-American brothers held together as a family in their New York City home by a tough, yet good-hearted mother (Mary Gordon). The three male actors were of Irish descent, but Gordon was Scottish--a fact thrown out by Cagney in an ad lib that was left in the film. Olivia de Havilland costars and direction is by Lloyd Bacon.

The film noir Odd Man Out (1947), produced and directed by Carol Reed, is an English-Irish production concerning political upheaval in an unnamed city in Northern Ireland. James Mason stars as the leader of an IRA-like organization, and most of the supporting cast is drawn from Dublin's celebrated Abbey Theatre.

The TCM premiere of Top o' the Morning (1949) once again teams frequent costars Bing Crosby and Dublin-born Barry Fitzgerald, an Abbey Theatre alumnus. Crosby, who also had Irish blood, plays a singing insurance investigator who comes to Ireland to recover the stolen Blarney Stone. His songs include the Irish standards "When Irish Eyes Are Smiling" and "Kitty of Coleraine." David Miller directed.

John Ford's The Quiet Man (1952) offers the most memorable teaming of classic screen couple John Wayne and Maureen O'Hara. He plays an Irish-American who travels to Ireland to reclaim his family farm, and she is the Irish lass with whom he shares a rough-and-tumble romance. Wayne had strong Irish roots, and O'Hara was a Dublin-born native of Ireland who trained at the Abbey Theatre. Costars include that quintessential Irishman Barry Fitzgerald. This one earned Ford an Oscar for Best Director.

The Rising of the Moon (1957) is another Ford film set in Ireland, this one a dramatic anthology of three episodes about Irish country life: "The Majesty of the Law," "A Minute's Wait" and "1921." Tyrone Power, who was of Irish ancestry, introduces the episodes, and the film's cast was recruited mainly from the Abbey Theatre.

Ford produced and directed The Last Hurrah (1958), an adaptation of the Edwin O'Connor novel. Spencer Tracy, who was of Irish heritage, stars as the Irish-American mayor of an unnamed New England city who is running for his fifth term in a no-holds-barred campaign. The National Board of Review gave prizes to Ford as Best Director and Tracy as Best Actor.

Shake Hands with the Devil (1959), starring James Cagney and set in 1920s Ireland during the time of "the Troubles," was filmed in Dublin and at Ardmore Studios in Bray, Ireland. Cagney plays a high-ranking, war-mongering IRA leader, and Don Murray is the naive Irish-American who becomes one of his subordinates. Michael Anderson produced and directed.

by Roger Fristoe
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