Ford's Irish Films

The Informer

 

Released in 1935 by RKO, ‘The Informer’ was set during the Irish War of Independence and details the story of Gypo Nolan, an Irishman who informs on his best friend and IRA member Frankie McPhillip in order to collect a £20 reward and set sail to theUSwith his girlfriend Katie Madden.

 

The film stars Victor McLaglen, Heather Angel, Preston Foster, Margot Grahame, Wallace Ford, Una O'Connor and J. M. Kerrigan. The screenplay was written by Dudley Nichols from the novel ‘The Informer’ by Liam O'Flaherty.

 

‘The Informer’ won Ford his first Oscar for direction, as well as earning Academy Awards for screenwriter Dudley Nichols; actor Victor McLaglen and composer Max Steiner.

 

Shot in Hollywood at RKO studios over 17 days, ‘The Informer’ was made on a budget of $243,000 and was the first film of Ford’s three-picture deal with RKO.

 

The Quiet Man

 

One of Ford’s best known pictures, ‘The Quiet Man’ tells the story of Sean Thornton (John Wayne), an Irish-born American from Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, who travels to Ireland to reclaim his family's farm in Innisfree. There he meets and falls in love with the fiery Mary Kate Danaher (Maureen O'Hara).

 

Released in 1952 by Republic Pictures, Ford had wanted to make ‘The Quiet Man’ for almost 20 years after securing the rights to Maurice Walsh’s short story in 1933 for $10. Republic Pictures agreed to finance the film with O'Hara and Wayne with Ford directing, only if all three agreed to film a western with Republic. All agreed and after filmingRio Grandethey headed forIrelandto start shooting.

 

One of the first films shot in Technicolor, ‘The Quiet Man’ was shot on-location in Cong, Co Mayo, with the production employing many actors from the Irish theatre, including Barry Fitzgerald's brother, Arthur Shields. Filming began on June 7 1951 with all of the outdoor scenes shot on location inIreland. Locations using in the film include Cong town, Cong's Ashford Castle, Thoor Ballylee, Co.Galway, Ballyglunin railway station near Tuam Co. Galway, and various places in Connemara Co. Galway and Co. Mayo.

 

The Shamrock Handicap

 

Set in 1926, ‘The Shamrock Handicap’ is the first of John Ford’s films to have an Irish motif. Set inCountyKildareand theUS, this silent movie mixes comedy and sentimental drama as it tells the story of Sir Miles O'Hara (Louis Payne), who is forced to sell most of his racing horses to American Orville Finch (Willard Louis) to pay debts. Finch persuades O'Hara's trainer and rider Neil Ross (Leslie Fenton) to leave with him forAmericato seek fortune, causing a sad separation between Neil and Sheila (Janet Gaynor).

 

Hangman's House

 

Set in Co. Wicklow, ‘Hangman’s House’ is a 1928 romantic drama silent film. It is based on a novel by Brian Oswald Donn-Byrne and was adapted by Philip Klein. The film is notable as the first movie in which John Wayne is clearly visible as a spectator at the steeplechase.

 

‘Hangman’s House’ tells the story of hanging judge James O'Brien. As he approaches death, he prepares for his daughter's welfare by arranging her marriage to the wealthy John Darcy, whom she despises. Meanwhile, an exiled patriot named Hogan returns toIrelandto kill the man who caused his sister's suicide.

 

The film began production in January 1928 and took seven weeks to film.

 

The Plough and the Stars

 

Based on the classic Séan O’Casey play of the same name, Ford’s 1936 film adaptation of ‘The Plough and The Stars’ starred Barbara Stanwyck, Preston Foster, Barry Fitzgerald, Denis O'Dea, Una O'Connor and Arthur Shields.

 

O’Casey co-wrote the screenplay with Dudley Nichols and featured a number of actors from the Abbey Theatre inDublinsuch as Barry Fitzgerald and his brother Arthur Shields. The plot of the film takes place over November 1915 through to the Easter Rising, in April 1916.

 

Young Cassidy

 

Co-directed by Ford and Jack Cardiff, this 1965 film stars Rod Taylor, Julie Christie, and Maggie Smith and is a biographical drama based upon the life of the playwright Sean O'Casey.

 

Set in 1920sDublin, the film follows Johnny Cassidy - an early known name of Sean O'Casey – and depicts his rise from theDublinslums to the celebrated openings of his early plays. Lady Gregory is brought to life by Edith Evans with Michael Redgrave cast as WB Yeats, with the film featuring Yeats’ fierce address to the Abbey Theatre audience after the riots at the opening of The Plough and the Stars.

 

The film was originally to be directed solely by Ford, however he pulled out of the production after three weeks of shooting in Dublin and Jack Cardiff was brought in to take over the shoot. It is still billed as a John Ford Production, since he had planned it, worked on the script, cast the actors, and shot the film’s early scenes. ‘Young Cassidy’ marked Ford’s penultimate film.

 

The Rising of the Moon

 

Released in 1957, ‘The Rising of The Moon’ saw Ford take three short stories of Irish life and weaves them into a feature-length film. In ‘The Majesty of the Law,’ a police officer must arrest a man for assault. ‘One Minute's Wait’ is a comic story about a train station and glimpses into the lives of the passengers. The third story, ‘1921’, is about a condemned Irish nationalist and his daring escape.

 

Ford filmed ‘The Rising of The Moon’ entirely inIrelandand on location, apart from brief scenes with Tyrone Power. Shot after ‘The Quiet Man’, it differs from its predecessor in having no major stars and no colour. The film’s cast included Cyril Cusack, Noel Purcell, Maureen Potter, Maureen Connell, Denis O'Dea, Eileen Crowe and Maureen Cusack.