Combustible Celluloid
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With: Albert Sharpe, Sean Connery, Janet Munro, Jimmy O'Dea, Kieron Moore, Estelle Winwood, Walter Fitzgerald, Denis O'Dea, J.G. Devlin, Jack MacGowran, Farrell Pelly, Nora O'Mahoney
Written by: Lawrence Edward Watkin, based on stories by H.T. Kavanagh
Directed by: Robert Stevenson
MPAA Rating: G
Running Time: 91
Date: 06/24/1959

Darby O'Gill and the Little People (1959)

3 1/2 Stars (out of 4)

Leprechaun Man

By Jeffrey M. Anderson

One of Disney's greatest live-action films, Darby O'Gill and the Little People (1959) boasts some still-astonishing special effects and a hint of nightmarish darkness, even allowing its characters to sit around a pub, swilling pints of stout. Albert Sharpe plays Darby, a lazy but likable old charmer who lives with his adorable twinkle-eyed grown daughter (Janet Munro) and regales everyone with his tales of leprechauns. He manages to catch King Brian (Jimmy O'Dea), the leader of the leprechauns, an act that rewards him with three wishes. But since he's about to lose his job to a strapping young Dubliner (a pre-Bond Sean Connery), he takes a few days to consider his wishes carefully. Celebrated cinematographer Winton Hoch was a natural choice to photograph Ireland's lush greens after his beautiful work on John Ford's The Quiet Man several years earlier, and it helps set the film's playful, yet sinister mood. Only the film's tacked-on bad guy, the town bully (Kieron Moore), kills the momentum, though Connery's singing comes in a close second. Director Robert Stevenson worked all over the map, ranging from Orson Welles films (Jane Eyre) to melodramas (Back Street) before becoming a permanent Disney fixture, and hence Darby O'Gill is one of the rare few family movies that should enchant both children and grown-ups.

DVD Details: Extras include a full-length episode of the "Walt Disney Presents" TV show promoting the film, plus two new featurettes, one on Sean Connery and another on the visual effects. The picture is presented in its original 1.33-to-1 aspect ratio, and the soundtrack is in Dolby Digital Mono. Audio options include an optional French language track and optional subtitles include English, Spanish and French.

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