Tuesday, March 17, 2015

Movie Review: "Darby O'Gill and the Little People" (1959)

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Movie"Darby O'Gill and the Little People"
Director: Robert Stevenson
Year: 1959
Rating: G
Running Time: 1 hour, 33 minutes

Darby O'Gill (Albert Sharpe) lives in a small Irish village and works as a caretaker for Lord Fitzpatrick (Walter Fitzgerald). Now, Darby is getting older and spends most of his time at the local pub, telling tales of his encounters with King Brian (Jimmy O'Dea), the ruler of the leprechauns. When Lord Fitzpatrick returns to town, he informs Darby that he will be forcing him into retirement at half pay and will be replacing him with a young man from Dublin named Michael McBride (Sean Connery), who can better handle the workload. This means Darby will have to move out of the guest house, but he doesn't want to break this news to his grown daughter Katie (Janet Munro), who was born and grew up there. After another ecounter with the leprechauns, Darby manages to capture King Brian so that he can get 3 wishes and hopefully put and end to his worries and keep his daughter happy. 

St. Patrick's Day is upon us! So, in celebration of this glorious occasion, we decided to review the Disney classic "Darby O'Gill and the Little People." This is a film BigJ grew up watching with his parents and he saw it multiple times as a young child, but this was the first time I had seen the movie. Disney does a good job trying to capture the feel of a small Irish village, as well as some of their folklore. They also do their best to maintain that magic, even going as far as adding a thanks to King Brian and his leprechauns for participating in the film during the opening credits! How cool is that?! This film is actually quite charming and fun, even today. The boisterous Albert Sharpe gives great life to the title character Darby O'Gill, and Jimmy O'Dea is great as the crafty King Brian. Together, their chemistry is dynamic and whimsically wonderful. Despite what Walt Disney claims, no, O'Dea is not actually a leprechaun or even a little person, as the movie might have you believe. O'Dea and the other leprechauns' diminutive size was achieved through forced perspective, the same technique Peter Jackson would go on to use during the "Lord of the Ring" series almost 50 years later. Though the technology has gotten better over the years, the technique in this film was still very effective, even back then. We also like that many of the actors are actually from Ireland and a few of the others are from England and trying out the best Irish accent they can muster, well, except for Sean Connery, who sounds Scottish no matter what country his character is from.

The majority of the film is based on Darby coming to terms with his forced retirement and trying to maintain the respect he has built throughout the years as the caretaker for Lord Fitzpatrick. Darby hopes that capturing King Brian will give him the opportunity to make some wishes that will help his daughter in the future. He spends much of the film pondering on what wishes to make, while King Brian constantly tries to trick Darby into wasting them. Darby also tells his stories at the pub and most of the other people there believe him, with the exception of a man named Pony, who is the town's tough guy and is sort of a bully who pokes fun at Darby quite often. The rest is about the romance between Katie O'Gill and Michael McBride, but there is trouble kindling that relationship because McBride is the man who was hired to replace her father, even though they are a very sweet and cute couple when they are together. Overall, this film is very lighthearted and a joy to watch any other time, but it is even more fun on St. Patrick's Day. There is enjoyable music and an interesting mythology behind it, as well as a great story and some funny moments, too. A great family film!  

My Rating: 6.5/10
BigJ's Rating: 7.5/10
IMDB's Rating: 7.1/10
Rotten Tomatoes Rating: 100%
Do we recommend this movie: Sure, why not?
One year ago, we were watching: "The Gramd Budapest Hotel"

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