Dedications: My four late friends Rory, Stan, Bryan, Jeff - shine on you crazy diamonds, they would have blogged too. Then theres Garry from Brisbane, Franco in Milan, Mike now in S.F. / my '60s-'80s gang: Ned & Joseph in Ireland; in England: Frank, Des, Guy, Clive, Joe & Joe, Ian, Ivan, Nick, David, Les, Stewart, the 3 Michaels / Catriona, Sally, Monica, Jean, Ella, Anne, Candie / and now: Daryl in N.Y., Jerry, John, Colin, Martin and Donal.
Wednesday, 30 November 2011
Young Cassidy - a John Ford film directed by Jack Cardiff
YOUNG CASSIDY Or: SEAN O'CASEY IN LOVE ? One of 1965's under-rated gems is this biopic of Irish writer Sean O'Casey, a perfect example of American film-making in England in the '60s. It was a project dear to John Ford, but he only spent a few weeks on the film due to illness, so esteemed photographer Jack Cardiff took over, having directed the successful D.H. Lawrence adaptation SONS AND LOVERS himself in 1960.
Ford may only have directed a couple of scenes - the pub fight and meeting Daisy Battles (the radiant young Julie Christie) and the death of Sean's mother, the noble Flora Robson. The cast here is the thing: Rod Taylor is an agreeable presence, ideal in THE BIRDS etc, and certainly makes for a brawling playright! Maggie Smith is Nora, the bookshop girl he loves, but she cannot deal with his growing success and the world he wants to live in. Julie (just before DARLING and DR ZHIVAGO that year) is the happy prostitute he meets a few times, Dame Flora is perfect as the ailing mother, Sian Phillips his poverty-stricken sister - and then theres Edith Evans as Lady Gregory who runs the Abbey Theatre, and Michael Redgrave as W.B.Yeats - heavyweights indeed. Add in Pauline Delaney as the randy landlady, Donal Donnelly, Joe Lynch, Jack McGowran and other assorted Irish characters.
Ford and Cardiff on set, above right.
The Easter Rebellion of 1916 plays out in the background as O'Casey steals books from Maggie's shop and gets his first play written and staged, but he cannot cash his first cheque to pay for his mother's funeral! Finally, he leaves for England and the successes waiting for him. The Dublin backgrounds are nicely staged along with the poverty of the time and its all a breezy romp touching certainly on events in the early O'Casey's life. O'Casey's plays are still being revived, I am off to a National Theatre revivial of JUNO AND THE PAYCOCK in the new year.