Friday, March 17, 2017
( 4:01 PM ) posted by Setsuled
After the surprise success of The Quiet Man in 1952, director John Ford returned to Ireland to film the 1957 anthology film The Rising of the Moon. Based on a short story and two plays, each by different Irish authors, the film is beautifully shot and contains entertaining, if somewhat broad, anecdotes but suffers from a lack of The Quiet Man's more complex characters.
The stories are introduced by Tyrone Power of all people who immediately assures the viewer that his grandparents were Irish immigrants. I'm guessing the studio insisted on Power's presence as the film otherwise has no star. Power is charming enough but he's not as at home hosting as he is in a swashbuckler. I don't know why Ford couldn't have used Maureen O'Hara or maybe Barry Fitzgerald.
Each of the stories is higher on mythical, stereotypical Irish charm than on realism. The first story, based on a short story by Frank O'Connor, features Jack MacGowran in a small role as a scrappy man who illegally brews liquor. Most of the story is set in the home of Dan O'Flaherty (Noel Purcell) who is due to be arrested by a police inspector named Dillon (Cyril Cusack) but not before the three of them enjoy a bit of poitin together. There's no more question of the inspector dragging O'Flaherty off immediately than there is of O'Flaherty not delivering himself to prison a few days later, the never directly stated joke of the whole thing being the points of honour observed in the community before any written law. It's pretty cute.
The second story involves a train stopping for "just a minute!" at a station where one little thing after another keeps it from going for at least a half hour. "A Minute's Wait", based on a play by Martin J. McHugh, cuts between a large cast of colourful characters as they spend the time. Many rush into the bar where a little woman named Pegeen (Maureen Potter) is constantly obliged to leap over the counter as customers constantly go in and out for the indecisive train. It's a funny story but here especially one gets restless without that focus seen in The Quiet Man.
The final story, based on a play also called The Rising of the Moon by Lady Gregory, must have been the cause of the controversy in Ireland vaguely referred to in John Ford's Wikipedia entry as regards the film. Set during the Irish War of Independence, it involves the scheme of a few rebels to spring a rebel leader named Sean Curran (Donal Donnelly) from a prison where he's kept by British soldiers. The story is written like a slightly comedic caper starring once again a cast of funny Irish caricatures. The charm kind of pales in the context and it's difficult to enjoy this sensitive issue papered over with dialogue about drinking and ballads. Curren is eventually helped to escape and makes his way to the docks leading a donkey, posing as a balladeer with the help of some Irish Americans.
Twitter Sonnet #973
A rusted bridge'll cede its strength to sky.