Darby O'Gill and the Little People (1959)

"For she is my dear, my darling one, my smiling and beguiling one; I worship the ground she walks upon...my beautiful Irish girl...."

I love that song! And what's better they have it running through the entire film; simply delightful! (Sean Connery has a surprisingly good voice, if that is indeed him singing, but we won't go there.) I love this movie. Well, parts of this movie. It's a nice movie, overall. But it could've been given some more pep. There are three plot threads: one, a leprechaun is teasing a man (Albert Finney, who plays Janet's father) with three wishes. Two, Sean Connery and Janet Munro are falling in love. Three, there is some mix-up about Janet & her father's land and having to move off it which is why Sean Connery is there, but if Albert can get the leprechaun to give him his wishes they won't have to or something like that, and everyone in the town thinks Albert is a freak because he talks to little green people (though why Irish people would think other Irish people are weird for believing in leprechauns is beyond me...) and finally Janet Munro gets hurt and Albert wishes for her to get better and the death coach comes with the banshees and I better not say anymore before I give the entire plot away. :D Anyway, all that to say that when I was younger, I skipped the parts with Albert and the leprechaun because they were boring and I really didn't understand them. Instead, I watched the parts with Janet Munro, whom I love, and Sean Connery, whom I tolerate (he is nice looking but too cocky for me) and that pretty song running through the film...

Apparently, according to the extras on the DVD, Walt Disney went to a great deal of trouble whilst promoting the film to further the insistence that leprechauns were, in fact, a lifelike phenomenon. (How's that sentence for qualifiers? :D Yes Mrs. Reeds, I did learn English grammar!) Suffice it to say, he went to great lengths to make people believe in leprechauns before they saw his film. *rolls eyes* Now I don't know what sort of things people would have believed (or put up with!) in 1959 but nowadays...that is bordering on ridiculous. Just my opinion of course. The DVD has clips of Walt signing the rights to the story away from King Brian of the Leprechauns and also a promo from his television show. And of course, who can forget "

The special effects are quite seamless and astonishing--it really seems like a precursor to Mary Poppins.  Except for the banshees, which are animated, but of course one doesn't believe in them anyway so it's no big deal. The leprechaun bits are beyond brilliant though (putting the film into historical context, of course). It is my understanding that the same techniques were used 40 years later in making the hobbits look miniature in Lord of the Rings. The little FX documentary on the DVD demonstrates visually how this was achieved but it's still difficult to tell. At least for me anyway. Perhaps I am a bit slow. ^^

One thing about the costumes: if this is supposed to be set in the 1920s Ireland was apparently very behind the times. And I know I've seen that brown striped dress before...

The whole film is pure Walt Disney. Just pure Walt. The actors are delightful, the stereotyped Irish culture engaging, the screenplay witty and effects marvelous. And Walt Disney always goes the extra mile to ensure his viewers' belief and interest. The tone of the film bespeaks lighthearted, old-fashioned fairytale fun, in the tradition of The Wizard of Oz (1939). I think the quality is perhaps better than some of Disney's 1950s live-action endeavors, but I could be wrong. It's too bad this film is one of the lesser-known Disneys.

All in all, it is a very cute movie, barring the bit about the banshee (which scared the hooey out of me when I was little and still creeps me out). Try saying "Barring the Bit aBout the Banshee"; isn't that fun? Anyway, if you have a chance to see it, please do! The DVD is quite worth the $11 Amazon asks for it; it has a decent amount of special features and the motion picture quality is good. I would keep little kids away from the banshee scene, especially if you know they scare easily.

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