Sunday, March 17, 2019

Irish-Themed Films

For St. Patrick’s Day, today’s episode of Sounds of Cinema featured a look at Irish-related films. Here is a recap of the movies discussed on the show.

Little Nellie Kelly (1940)
Little Nellie Kelly was adapted from a successful stage musical but most of the story and songs were rewritten for the motion picture. Judy Garland appears in two roles, first as Irish immigrant Nellie Noonan Kelly and later as her daughter.

The Quiet Man (1952)
John Wayne plays an American boxer who travels to his birthplace in Ireland. There he falls in love with a local woman played by Maureen O’Hara. The Quiet Man is distinguished as one of the few Hollywood films in which Gaelic is spoken.

Finian’s Rainbow (1968)
Finian's Rainbow is a 1968 musical film adapted from the stage show and directed by Francis Ford Coppola and starring Fred Astaire and Petula Clark. The film tells the story of an Irishman and his daughter immigrating to the United States while pursued by a leprechaun. At the time of its release, Finian’s Rainbow had a mixed critical reception but it’s now regarded as an underrated title from the end of Hollywood’s musical era. The Coen Brothers have named Finian’s Rainbow as one of their favorite films.

Barry Lyndon (1975)
Stanley Kubrick was renowned for his obsessive attention to detail. His 1975 film, the story of an Irish commoner who marries his way into British aristocracy, is one of the best examples of that Kubrick’s filmography.

My Left Foot (1989)
My Left Foot is the story of Irish writer and painter Christy Brown who was rendered quadriplegic by cerebral palsy but was able to create using the toes of one foot. The movie was adapted from Brown’s memoir and starred Daniel Day Lewis in the lead role.

The Crying Game (1992)
There is a whole genre of movies about the Troubles in Northern Ireland including Michael Collins, The Wind that Shakes the Barley, Jimmy’s Hall, Hunger, and ’71 among many others. 1992’s The Crying Game tells of a burgeoning friendship between a volunteer in the Irish Republican Army and a kidnapped British soldier. This was the breakout movie for Irish filmmaker Neil Jordan who went on to make Interview with the Vampire, The End of the Affair, and Greta.

Patriot Games (1992)
Patriot Games is an adaptation of the book by Tom Clancy, in which Jack Ryan is targeted by a splinter group of the IRA. The movie has little to say about the politics of Northern Ireland, preferring to stick to the action and adventure, and it’s a darker movie than other adaptations of Clancy’s work. The soundtrack includes the theme from the film Harry’s Game (performed by Clannad) which was also about the Troubles.

Angela’s Ashes (1999)
Angela’s Ashes was adapted from the Pulitzer Prize winning memoir by Frank McCourt. The story dramatizes McCourt’s childhood in Limrick, Ireland during the Great Depression. The movie has some terrific performances and an authentic feel for its time and place.

In America (2002)
Directed by distinguished Irish filmmaker Jim Sheridan, whose other films include My Left Foot and In the Name of the Father, 2002’s In America was the story of an Irish family relocating to the United States and scratching out a living in Manhattan.

Once (2007)
Once is a musical love story that succeeds largely because of its soundtrack. Lead actors Glen Hansard and Markéta Irglová are professional musicians and they are credited with writing most of the music and perform it in the film. The songs are great; Once sports one of the best original soundtrack albums of recent years and the songs link to the characters and their love story.

Leap Year (2010)
Leap Year was a 2010 romantic comedy starring Amy Adams. She plays a woman who wants her boyfriend to propose and Adams’ character decides to exploit the Irish tradition of Bachelor's Day in which women are allowed to propose marriage on February 29th. The movie got mostly negative reviews. Donald Clarke of The Irish Times wrote an especially scathing review that said Leap Year was evidence that “Hollywood is incapable of seeing the Irish as anything but IRA men or twinkly rural imbeciles.”

Leprechaun Series (1993 – 2018)
Leprechaun was a horror-comedy series starring Warwick Davis. In each installment, the murderous imp pursues people who have taken his gold and dispatches them in horrifically creative ways. The original Leprechaun was Jennifer Aniston’s first feature film credit. The movie inspired five sequels (including such immortal classics as Leprechaun 4: In Space and Leprechaun in the Hood) as well as a reboot.

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