On Saturday, March 17, TCM goes green. No, not in a reuse, recycle, renew kind of way, but in an OG, Original Green kind of way as they present a day-long marathon of movies celebrating all things Irish. That’s right, from 6am-8pm, TCN will present movies either set in Ireland or featuring Irish-American characters or actors.
Things get off to a romantic star at 6am/5c with 1934’s The Key. This one stars William Powell, who, at the time was fresh off his first turn as The Thin Man. Quite a departure from the Thin Man, Powell is cast as Captain Bill Tennant, a British military officer stationed in Ireland. Things get complicated when he runs into an old flame, Norah (Edna Best), who is now married to Irish military man, Captain Andrew Kerr (Colin Clive). Like her costar, Powell, 1934 was a good year for Best. Not long after The Key‘s theatrical release, she co-starred alongside Peter Lorre and Leslie Banks in Alfred Hitchcock‘s first movie version of The Man Who Knew Too Much.
At 7:15am/6:15c, it’s 1947’s My Wild Irish Rose. This musical biopic of Irish songwriter Chauncey Olcott casts Arlene Dahl in the film’s title character, Rose Donovan, the object of Olcott‘s (Dennis Morgan) affection. Problem is, Rose is engaged to Terry O’Rourke (Don McGuire). Look for I Love Lucy‘s Fred Mertz, William Frawley as Irish singer, William Scanlon. In addition to the movie title’s song of the same name, other Olcott-written tunes in the film include: I Love the Name Mary, Sweet Inniscarra, One Little Sweet Little Girl, Mother Marchee and When Irish Eyes Are Smiling. William Scanlon‘s My Nellie’s Blue Eyes is also featured, as are a number of traditional songs and tunes first introduced in the film and written by MK Jerome and Ted Koehler. The film received an Oscar nomination for Best Music, Scoring of a Musical Picture, acknowledging the work of Ray Heindorf and the legendary film composer, Max Steiner.
The music keeps coming at 9am/8c with The Daughter of Rosie O’Grady from 1950. As Pat , Katie and Maureen O’Grady, June Haver,Marcia Mae Jones and Debbie Reynolds play the daughters of Rosie and Dennis O’Grady (James Barton). Their father, a hard-working widow, is trying his best to raise his daughters, on of whom is secretly married, one meets a man (Gordon MacRae) who encourages her to follow in her vaudeville-mom’s footsteps and the other, well, she’s the youngest (Reynolds). While Reynolds made her actual on-screen debut two years earlier in 1948’s June Bride, it wasn’t until this film that audiences heard her speak on screen for the first time. Haver and her former Look For the Silver Lining co-star, MacRae are the focus of this one. In addition to the film’s title track, the soundtrack includes a number of now-forgotten tunes for the Victorian era.
1935’s The Irish In Us airing at 10:45am/9:45c, and starring James Cagney, Pat O’Brien, Frank McHugh and Olivia de Havilland hits all the now considered stereotypical comedic marks in a story about Ma O’Hara (Mary Gordon) and her three Irish sons: a fireman, a policeman and a wannabe boxing promoter (Cagney) who ends up in the ring himself.
Things turn serious at 12:15pm/11:15c with Shake Hands With The Devil (1959). Set in 1921, Don Murray stars as Kerry O’Shea, an American-Irish medical student who travels to Dublin and finds himself involved in an uprising against the British. Among his allies, James Cagney as Commandant Sean Lenihan. Dana Wynter stars as Jennifer Curtis, whom O’Shea kidnaps and subsequently falls in love with. Michael Redgrave, Glynis Johns and Sybil Thorndike are among the film’s co-stars.
1957’s The Rising of The Moon aka Three Leaves of the Shamrock, airs at 2:15pm/1:15c. Tyrone Power acts as host and narrator as he introduces three vignettes all centering around Irish country life. There’s The Majesty of The Law, a tale of policeman who must arrest a man for assault, in spite of feeling of sympathy for the perp. Then there’s One Minute’s Wait. Set in a train station, this one offers brief comedic looks into the lives of a random group of travelers, strangers, except for their common mode of transportation. Last is 1921, which focuses on a condemned Irish nationalist as plots his escape. The huge cast features just about every Irish character actor ever to appear on screen. Among them: Cyril Cusack, Jack MacGowran, Maureen Potter and Dennis O’Dea.
TCM takes their Irish movie marathon serious with The Last Hurrah (1958). Directed by John Ford and based on the novel by Edwin O’Connor, Spencer Tracy stars as a popular and powerful Irish-American politician running for office one last time. Once again, Pat O’Brien is among the film’s co-stars. Tracy and Ford were awarded for their work on the film, both receiving National Board of Review honors in their respective categories as Best Actor and Best Director. Tracy‘s NBR also honored his work in The Old Man and the Sea, released that same year.
For their final two Irish-themed offerings, TCM pays homage to playwright turned Irish Rebel, Sean O’Casey. First, at 5:51pm/4:51c, it’s the 1965 short, Sean O’Casey: The Spirit of Ireland, a behind-the-scenes look at the making of the film, Young Cassidy, based on the life of O’Casey. Narrated by Herschel Bernardi, this 8-minute short is basically an extended preview of the feature film. Then at 6pm/5c, TCM wraps their St. Paddy’s Day marathon with the aforementioned Young Cassidy. Directed by Jack Cardiff and John Ford, Rod Taylor plays John Cassidy, the fictionalized version of O’Casey. Julie Christie and Maggie Smith vie for Cassidy‘s attention as music hall dancer, Daisy Battles…love that name…and bookworm Nora, respectively. In the midst of upheaval against the British, Cassidy‘s career as a playwright takes off. Character actressFlora Robson is featured early on as Cassidy‘s mother. Among her many other recognizable roles, 1972’s British musical version of Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland, in which she played The Queen of Hearts.
TCM follows their Irish marathon with the latest installment of their weekly hosted movie, The Essentials with Robert Osborne and Drew Barrymore. Saturday’s featured classic, Alice Adams. For my take on that film, be sure and check out my next TCM article.
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