Thursday, April 17, 2014
Spring is near and St. Patrick’s Day is around the corner. It’s time for an Irish-themed bad movie, but what? I would never allow classics like “The Quiet Man” to share the same shelf space with my DVD collection of stinkers. “Darby O’Gill and the Little People”? It’s supposedly a Disney classic, with great special effects, a spooky ending, and it features a young Sean Connery singing. Sean Connery singing? Wait, this flick just might make it into the BAD category by the skin of its shamrock.
While Connery’s appearance is pre-James Bond, his character, Michael, is both a brawler and a wooer of women. (Connery was dismissed by The New York Times in its review of the film as “merely tall, dark and handsome,” but that was enough to land him the role of James Bond.) Albert Sharpe plays Darby O’Gill, an old Irish rogue who is supposed to work as the caretaker of an old Irish estate but spends his days instead downing pints at the pub and telling stories about Brian, King of the Leprechauns (turns out they are all true). Appointed to replace Darby, Michael is smitten with his daughter, Katie, who is played by the lovely Janet Munroe. Munroe’s other claim to acting fame is “The Crawling Eye,” in which a giant eyeball with tentacles takes over a Swiss mountaintop. Great stuff — but back to Ireland.
Yes, Connery does sing an Irish ballad. So does Darby. Sample lyrics: “Singing is no sin, drinking no crime / As long as you have one, one at a time.” To be fair, Sean isn’t all that bad. Besides, any Disney movie that features a whiskey drinking/singing match between an old Irish rogue and a Leprechaun King gets enough points to let Mr. Bond’s crooning slide. Parts of the film reportedly had to be dubbed because the thick accents of Irish actors rendered their dialogue incomprehensible, and most of it was not shot in Ireland at all but on Disney’s ranch in Burbank, Calif. Still and all, the forced perspective that allows the Little People to appear little is well done and the appearance of a banshee at the end is truly scary.
OK, so “Darby O’Gill” doesn’t make it into the Hall of Shame after all. In fact, I can say that I would wholeheartedly recommend this movie for adults and children. So what’s left to fill the slot for a Irish-themed bad movie? I was in a video store one time when two dudes wandered by and one happened to remark to the other, “ ‘Leprechaun 4’ is the best #*%@! movie I ever saw.” There you go!
— Blaise Majkowski
Gazette page designer and B-movie aficionado