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The Irish in Film
A Complete List of Irish Films

Irish Fail

When looking for Irish films for this site there is nothing more exasperating than getting some lame excuse for Irish. Oftentimes databases like IMDB or Amazon will list a film as Irish that doesn't come close to one's expectations of "Irish-ness." Imagine my chagrin when coming across The Story of Esther Costello (1957). This film - based on a true story of an Irish lass with an Irish name - disappoints on so many levels. The character's speech, manner and looks fall short of expectations. They just don't appear - Irish.

I call this Irish Fail.

There are variations of Irish Fail. First are the pretenders. Film producers through the years have often tried to capitalize on moviegoers' love of films with Irish characters and locations. Ladder 49 (2004) a group of Irish-American firemen - good thing you told me; I thought they were Polish. Dementia 13 (1963) is set in an Irish country house. Again good thing they told us; could've been Connecticut. The same goes for Wolfhound (2002). Same goes for The Eternal (1998)

Often it is stated that a character is Irish but in no way appears or sounds Irish. Orson Wells in The Lady From Shanghai (1947). Fine film, but sorry Orson, no shamrock for you. Consider The Missouri Breaks(1976) with Marlon Brando and Jack Nicholson. One steals, one kills and one of them is supposed to be Irish. (Just can't remember which one. The Sundowners (1960) is about Irish immigrants in Australia and has Robert Mitchum sheering sheep. So dreamy. Yet, not so Irish. River Queen (2005) is set in New Zealand, same deal-i-o.

Sometimes the whole cast is supposed to be Irish. Consider Life Without Dick. (2002) The plot concerns Irish and Irish-American gang members and an Irish colleen who stumbles into their mitts. The trouble is the cast is (except for Craig Ferguson, a Scot) all Jewish. It's a funny movie but even funnier when cast members endlessly claim to be Irish while acting, talking and looking like Jewish, Hollywood execs.

British films that wish you to believe the characters are Irish floor me. Brits do Americans so well (Think Andrew Lincoln in The Walking Dead or Hugh Laurie as House) yet fall on their faces trying to pose as Irish. Barry Lyndon (1975) is a great film as long as you forget the fact that Lyndon is written as Irish. Enjoy the film; just don't try to get me to add it to this Irish database. How About You (2007) is a lovely film with Vanessa Redgrave. They pretend the story takes place on the Irish seacoast -- should have said Brighton. Watching The Lonely Passion of Judith Hearne (1987) with its fantastic leading cast one finds each and every one -- very British.

Miss Julie (2014) is set in Ireland. The original play is set in Scandinavia - the land of the midnight sun. Thus the meaning, importance and cultural reference to Midsummer make perfect sense, there. In Ireland, not so much.

I probably don't have to warn you about Duck, You Sucker (1971) and Irish American Ninja (2005). It's not that they fail to be good that I'm complaining about, it's that they fail at their claim to be Irish.

Lady of Shanghai1947
River Queen2005


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