What better movie to choose for the month of March, then Darby O’Gill and the Little People.Â While we may be getting a little long in the tooth for this month, we wanted to get it out there in time for St. Patrick’s Day!Â
The first post for our Movie of the Month typically covers the synopsis and the biographies of the actors. However, this month we found a few additional gems in the campaign manual. It included the biography of the Director, and the biography of the Leprechaun King!
So, sit back and take the time to learn more about the great people that helped bring this movie to life.
SYNOPSIS (Not For Publication)
This fanciful story of love and Leprechauns is laid at the turn of the century in picturesque Southern Ireland at fictional Rathcullen, a lively little town boasting a beautiful church, an irresistible pub, and the grand estate of Lord Fitzpatrick.
Darby O’Gill (Albert Sharpe), a caretaker on his Lordship’s estate as well as a feisty old Shenachie (story-teller) with a reputation for his knowledge of Leprechauns, finds that his job has been given to Michael McBride (Sean Connery), a handsome young man, and that he will be retired. Fearful that this development will ruin the community standing of his pretty daughter Katie (Janet Munro), Darby and Michael agree to keep the fact of his retirement hidden. Michael pretends he has been hired to help Darby.
On a trip to a neighboring town one night, Darby is kicked down a well by his horse when it is turned into a pooka (spirit animal) and he lands in the royal chambers of King Brian, monarch of all the little people. King Brian attempts to keep the jovial old man a captive, and it looks like he will succeed. But Darby plays on one of the little people’s weaknesses. He fiddles a fox hunt so irresistibly it sends all his little captors riding off in wild array.
Just as Darby arrives safely back home, however, he is confronted with King Brian, who is furious at being made a fool of. Once again Darby outwits him in a night-long singing bout, and captures the little king in a sack, deciding that he will make use of Brian’s magic powers to grant him three wishes (a fourth wish would cancel the previous three).
Darby and Brian hit upon the idea of arranging a love match between Katie and Michael. The spell is cast and all are happy until Pony Sugrue (Kieron Moore), the village lout, who wants the caretaker’s job and Katie’s love, discloses to her that Michael is succeeding her father in the coveted position. The idyl broken, Darby has an argument with Katie during which his prize escapes from the sack.
Running from the house, Katie is seriously injured. Darby, fearful of the Costa Bower (Death Coach) which he sees coming to claim her, makes a wish that it take him instead. Once in the coach, Darby finds himself seated beside King Brian and makes a wish (his fourth) that the little monarch accompany him.
The spell is broken and Darby suddenly finds himself in the middle of a muddy road. He and Katie are safe. In a spectacular fight, Michael disposes of Pony and rewins Katie’s love, and Darby retires happily with a new son and a pension.
“DARBY O’GILL AND THE LITTLE PEOPLE”
ALBERT SHARPE JANET MUNRO
SEAN CONNERY JIMMY O’DEA
Kieron MoorÂ Estelle Winwood Walter Fitzgerald
Distributed by BUENA VISTA Film Distribution Co., Inc.
CAST OF CHARACTERS
Darby O’Gill ————————ALBERT SHARPE
Katie ———————————JANET MUNRO
Michael McBride ——————SEAN CONNERY
Pony Sugrue ————————KIERON MOORE
Sheelah ——————————ESTELLE WINWOOD
Lord Fitzpatrick ——————-WALTER FITZGERALD
Father Murphy——————— DENIS O’DEA
Tom Kerrigan ———————-J. G. DEVLIN
Phadrig Oge ————————JACK MacGOWRAN
Paddy Scanlon ———————FARRELL PELLY
Molly Malloy ———————-NORA O’MAHONY
and KING BRIAN CONNORS as Himself
Directed by ————————ROBERT STEVENSON
Written by ————————-LAWRENCE EDWARD WATKIN
(Suggested by H. T. Kavanagh’s “Darby O’Gill” Stories)
Director of Photography ——–WINTON C. HOCH, A.S.C.
Music ——————————OLIVER WALLACE
Orchestration ———————CLIFFORD VAUGHAN
Songs: ————–“THE WISHING SONG”
———————–“PRETTY IRISH GIRL”
LAWRENCE EDWARD WATKIN, OLIVER WALLACE
Art Director ———————-CARROLL CLARK
Special Art StylingÂ ————-PETER ELLENSHAW
Special Art Styling ————–Don Da Gradi
Assistant Director————— ROBERT G. SHANNON
Set Decorators ——————-EMILE KURI
Set Decorators——————- FRED MacLEAN
Film Editor ———————–STANLEY JOHNSON, A.C.E.
Special Photographic Effects Â -PETER ELLENSHAW
Special Photographic Effects Â -EUSTACE LYCETT
Animation Effects ————–JOSHUA MEADOR
Music Editor ——————–EVE LYN KENNEDY
CostumersÂ ———————-CHUCK KEEHNE
Costumers Â ———————-GERTRUDE CASEY
Make-up ————————-PAT McNALLEY
Hair Stylist ———————-RUTH SANDIFER
Sound Supervisor ————–ROBERT O. COOK
Sound Mixer ——————–DEAN THOMAS
Technical Advisor ————-MICHAEL O’HERLIHY
My thanks to King Brian of Knocknasheega and his Leprechauns, whose gracious cooperation made this picture possible.
“Darby O’Gill” Stars Janet Munro, Top Film Discovery Of The Year
Janet Munro, starring as the femme lead in Walt Disney’s “Darby O’Gill and the Little People,” is one of the great film discoveries of the year. Disney found the emerald-eyed, auburn-haired Gaelic beauty on his casting tour of Ireland and England last winter. He signed her to a five-year contract, the first ever given an adult actress by Walt.
A swiftly-rising name in Britain, Janet rates other laurels. She is the first English TV star to be imported by Hollywood, as British stage and screen sources had supplied all talent of such magnitude previously. She was England’s Miss Television of 1958, and was ranked â¢”the most promising juvenile stage actress” in 1955.
At 23, Janet is a veteran performer. Her origins lie in English variety, where her father, far-old Alex Munro, still reigns as top comedian. Therefore she was literally “born in a trunk,” and began appearing with him when she was 7.
When World War II broke out, and Janet’s mother had died, Alex Munro became head of Royal Air Force entertainment in England. So she began entertaining troops by his side.
When the war was over, Janet returned briefly to school, then spent six months working with her father as straight man. Then, to his great horror, she quit variety and set out to be a dramatic actress.
From bit parts in a repertory company, she quickly climbed to juvenile leads, and from there to commercial television. And from there, eventually, to her job with Walt Disney.
“Darby O’Gill and the Little People,” in color by Technicolor, is a Buena Vista release.
Young Janet Munro An “Old” Trooper
Janet Munro, starring in Walt Disney’s Technicolor feature motion picture about love, laughter and Leprechauns in Ireland, “Darby O’Gill and the Little People,” is one of the most professional of all the beautiful importations to grace the Hollywood scene in recent years.
She has been on the stage since she can remember, first understudying her famous father, British variety comedian Alex Munro, later on her own as a stage manager and actress.
Today, as the first girl ever signed by Disney to a long-term contract, she appears destined to become a tremendously popular and appealing star in this country. She is the kind of new face and new talent, rarely found, whose charm should make the boxoffice welkin ring.
Auburn-haired, emerald-eyed, packed with personality and scintillating with a confidence born of constant stage appearances, at age 23 petite Miss Munro can and has filled almost every feminine role in the book, from a girl of 12 to a crone of 60, from juvenile delinquent to charming ingenue.
In “Darby O’Gill” she plays a comely 20 year old, Katie O’Gill, who falls deeply in love, a girl of warm heart and fiery disposition who refuses to let anything âeven loveâstand in the way of her ideals. It was a comparatively easy role for Janet, Â since it almost perfectly matches her own personality. Like Katie, Janet is small, red-haired, greeneyed, uncommonly pretty and possessing an independent spirit with a bit of temper.
Darby O’Gill and the Little People” also stars Albert Sharpe, Sean Connery and Jimmy O’Dea. It is a Buena Vista release.
Sean Connery Is Romantic Lead In Walt Disney Film
Sean Connery, one of the handsomest and most versatile of British motion picture and television stars, portrays the romantic lead in Walt Disney’s story of love, laughter and Leprechauns, “Darby O’Gill and the Little People.”
The part of Michael McBride, who falls in love with the comely Janet Munro as Katie O’Gill, is probably the most potent romantic role in Disney production history. Both Connery and Miss Munro, imported by Disney, are the bright new stars of this fabulous tale of an Irish story teller and his encounters with the Little People.
Within five years Connery, a former van driver, jumped from a casual walk-on in a period piece to lead roles in major motion picture and television productions, a long-term contract with 20th Century-Fox, and now âon loan outâto a coveted Disney part for which scores applied during Walt’s casting tour of Ireland and the British Isles last winter.
Connery’s talent and facility as an actor developed almost overnight. He staged his walkon in 1952. The following year, in London for a weekend holiday, he took a flyer at auditioning for the London stage production of “South Pacific” and promptly won the memorable Buzz Adams role.
Restless and largely indifferent to money, he had become a jack-of-most-trades since quitting school at age 13. After van driving, his father’s trade, he tried stone masonry. His other accomplishments include lifeguard, steel bender, professional football player, and a sailor in Her Majesty’s Navy.
After “South Pacific,” Connery played parts in other plays, then began television work in 1955. He was such a success that movie roles followed quickly. “Darby O’Gill and the Little People,” in color by Technicolor, also stars Albert Sharpe, Janet Munro, and Jimmy O’Dea. Release is by Buena Vista.
Albert Sharpe Brings Famed Comic Skill To “Darby O’Gill” Title Role
Albert Sharpe, an Irish actor who has been busy making people laugh for over 65 years, puts every once of his wit and skill into the title role for Walt Disney’s enchanting Technicolor comedy, “Darby O’Gill and the Little People.”
Sharpe won the nod from Disney for the coveted part after a careful search in three countries. He portrays a feisty old Shanachie (story-teller), who manages to trap the King of the Leprechauns and winds up in an appallingly treacherous situation.
Disney re-discovered the dean of Irish comedians during a casting tour of Ireland and the British Isles. Sharpe, now 73, had been in retirement since completing “Brigadoon” for MGM in 1954. He was found in his ivycovered cottage near Belfast, and no one could have been more surprised than Albert, the original “Finian” on Broadway.
The comedian’s first appearance was with the late Sir Frank Benson, famed actor of the day, in “A Midsummer Night’s Dream.” But he soon turned to variety shows, and joined forces with Joe Carney, his straight man, now retired. They toured theatres and music hal ls throughout the British Isles.
In 1921 Joe went to America, and Albert carried on alone until 1945, when he got his first film part for J. Arthur Rank. For his performance in “Finian’s Rainbow” in 1947 on Broadway he won all the major stage awards.
“Darby O’Gill and the Little People” stars Sharpe, Janet Munro, Sean Connery and Jimmy O’Dea.
Kieron Moore Charming Heavy In Walt Disney’s “Darby O’Gill”
In his search to find the best possible Irish talent for “Darby O’Gill and the Little People,” Walt Disney struck Gaelic gold in Ciaran Oh- Annrachain, better known to the American movie-going public as Kieron Moore. Ciaron Oh-AnnrachainâGaelic for Kieron O’Hanrahan, the name Moore was christened withâturned out to be one of the most delightful heavies Hollywood will have seen in a long time.
He stages his fights with a smile, puts a chuckle into his schemes to steal a job, and manages to laugh outright when his attempts to steal the heroine’s hand fall flat as the turf spade he wields in the dark.
Kieron comes of genuine old Irish stock. His father, Paedar, has long fostered the revival of Gaelic as a language, and has written several books on the subject. He brought up his son to speak it before Kieron could mouth a word of English.
Kieron is an actor because he is a rebel. The profession planned for him was medicine. But while still in high school he hit upon the idea of trying out acting, and produced a play himself â in Irish â assigning himself the lead role. As he continued acting, he was scouted by an Abbey Theatre producer, and soon quit college to join that immortal playhouse for a two-year stint.
The going in motion pictures was difficult at first, until he was signed by Alexander Korda for whom he worked four years. After that, he got into American pictures with parts in “David and Bathsheba” and “Ten Tall Men.” Just before his Disney assignment, he finished “The Key” for Sir Carol Reed.
Kieron has worked in most European countries as well as in the United States, and speaks Italian and French as well as Irish and English.
“Darby O’Gill and the Little People,” in color by Technicolor, stars Albert Sharpe, Janet Munro, Sean Connery and Jimmy O’Dea. Release is by Buena Vista.
Estelle Winwood Plays Eccentric Gossip In New Walt Disney Film
The inimitable Estelle Winwood, portrayer of eccentric characters on stage, screen and television, was picked by Walt Disney for the role of the gossipy trouble-maker in his “Darby O’Gill and the Little People,” live-action Technicolor feature motion picture about love, laughter and Leprechauns in Ireland.
Miss Winwood, a product of English repertory who has made the United States her home for 40 years, joined a top cast which includes starrers Albert Sharpe of Belfast, Janet Munro and Sean Connery of London, and Jimmy O’Dea of Dublin. Nowhere could Walt find anyone better suited to play Shielah Sugrue, mother of the picture’s heavy.
Miss Winwood is no stranger to Broadway, where she has 50 plays to her credit, including “The Madwoman of Chaillot,” “Lady Windermere’s Fan,” and “Ladies in Retirement,” each of which ran two years.
Her first movie, MGM’s “The Glass Slipper,” endeared her to theatre audiences throughout the country, and she has been cutting a wide swath on television, too.
Her Disney role is one of her all-time favorites. She thinks the picture “very funny and very unusual andâlike anything Walt Disney doesâvery good.”
“Darby O’Gill and the Little People,” stars Sharpe, Miss Munro, Connery and Jimmy O’Dea, with Miss Winwood, Kieron Moore and Walter Fitzgerald. Release is by Buena Vista.
Director Stevenson Adds “Darby O’Gill” To Array Of Credits
Quiet, English – born Robert Stevenson has added Walt Disney’s favorite motion picture production to his formidable array of top movie and TV credits. This is a fabulous film story in Technicolor called “Darby O’Gill and the Little People.”
Walt began his search for the right cast and the proper director for the ‘Darby’ story in 1947. He found the director quite inadvertently, when he was ready to make his picture about the American War of Independence, “Johnny Tremain,” two years ago.
Stevenson went on to direct the immensely successful “Old Yeller,” starring a dog and several youngsters requiring the utmost in patience and attention to detail.
The dog and the children were as nothing compared to the Leprechaun theme “Darby O’Gill” involved. But Stevenson was just the man. For in addition to his tremendous technical know-how and limitless patience, he has something else: a first-hand knowledge of and experience with the Irishman’s almost devout belief in the Little People.
“Darby O’Gill and the Little People” stars Albert Sharpe, Janet Munro, Sean Connery, and Jimmy O’Dea. Release is by Buena Vista
PROFILE OF A KING: BRIAN CONNORS OF KNOCKASHEEGA
There he stands on his king-sized throne, a mighty mite shouting imperiously and laughing uproariously at the reverent figure of a mortal man called Darby O’Gill. Yes, that’s his Royal Slyness, Brian Connors, King of the Little People, Master of the Nighttime, and star in Walt Disney’s live-action Technicolor motion picture, “Darby O’Gill and the Little People.”
Let’s take a closer look at Brian himself, crown, cloak, temper and all. At 21 inches, he is of average sizeâLeprechauns count very few tall two-footers among their numberâbut that is the only thing average about him. He has more power in his little finger, between sunset and sunrise, than any ordinary king you can think of. He can turn any kind of trick in the world, and has, until now, tried all of them except one âacting. Walt Disney had to think of that.
Walt has been thinking about it since 1947, when he first made a trip to Ireland in search of a story, an inspiration, and a cast of characters. It wasn’t until this year when he finally made contact with Brian himself, that this historic trick was turned.
Contact with a Leprechaun, particularly the king, isn’t easy. “I had to go back to Ireland three times after my first visit,” says Walt. “When he found out my people were from Ireland, he agreed to talk to me.”
Brian was “born” in Knocknasheega a little more than 5,000 years ago. He came along full-size, complete with beard and crown. Like all Leprechauns, he fell from Heaven. There is nothing he likes better than a friendly argument, but all in all he is a jolly fellow, with a grin and a ready joke, like any good Irishman.
Leprechauns look much alike. They wear green or red coats and breeches, black shoes with buckles, and cocked hats of red or green with feathers stuck in them. King Brian, as befitting his station, also wears a cloak trimmed with ermine and a gold crown.
“Darby O’Gill and the Little People” stars Albert Sharpe, Janet Munro, Sean Connery and Jimmy O’Dea. Release is by Buena Vista.
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