Biographical drama based on the early life of playwright Sean O'Casey, depicting his rise from the 1910 Dublin slums to the celebrated openings of his early plays. Johnny Cassidy, an ... See full summary »

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, (uncredited)

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(screenplay), (autobiography "Mirror in My House")
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Nominated for 2 BAFTA Film Awards. See more awards »

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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
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Lady Gregory
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Mrs. Cassidy
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Archie
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Ella
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Tom
Julie Ross ...
Sara
Robin Sumner ...
Michael
Philip O'Flynn ...
Mick Mullen (as Phillip O'Flynn)
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Bessie Ballynoy (as Pauline Delany)
Arthur O'Sullivan ...
Foreman
Joe Lynch ...
1st Hurler
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Storyline

Biographical drama based on the early life of playwright Sean O'Casey, depicting his rise from the 1910 Dublin slums to the celebrated openings of his early plays. Johnny Cassidy, an impoverished idealist whose ambitions are restricted by the demands of looking after his family, journeys through the social injustices of Dublin life - involving himself with the rowdy tramway-men strike, dawdling with prostitute Daisy Battles, seeking a better life. He falls in love with bookshop assistant Nora who encourages him toward a life of writing. Finding success at the Abbey Theatre, his unorthodox views estrange him from family, friends and his own past. Written by alfiehitchie

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

Taglines:

He's a brawling, sprawling giant - on the make for fame and fortune and then some! See more »

Genres:

Biography | Drama

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Release Date:

22 April 1965 (Argentina)  »

Also Known As:

El soñador rebelde  »

Filming Locations:

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Technical Specs

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Color:

(Metrocolor)

Aspect Ratio:

1.66 : 1
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Did You Know?

Trivia

Director John Ford fell ill during production and was replaced by Jack Cardiff. See more »

Goofs

The story is set around 1910. One hour into the story a horse and carriage pass by. A 1960s-era car is seen turning at an intersection where it just came from. See more »

Crazy Credits

Billed as "A John Ford Film", although Jack Cardiff is credited as sole director. See more »

Connections

Featured in Sean O'Casey: The Spirit of Ireland (1965) See more »

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User Reviews

 
Strong on character, weak on plot
28 May 2010 | by (Tunbridge Wells, England) – See all my reviews

"Young Cassidy" was to have been directed by John Ford, but he had to withdraw owing to illness about three weeks into filming, and was replaced by Jack Cardiff, who was credited as director. Had Ford completed it, it would have been his penultimate film; he was to complete one more film, "Seven Women", the following year. Ford was himself of Irish descent and occasionally made films on Irish subjects, such as "The Quiet Man".

The film is a biography based upon the life of the dramatist Sean O'Casey, here called John Cassidy. (O'Casey's original name was John Casey, although his family also used the name Cassidy. He Gaelicised his name to Seán Ó Cathasaigh and eventually settled on Sean O'Casey, a compromise between the English and Irish forms). The name may have been changed to allow the film-makers greater freedom to introduce fictional elements into O'Casey's life. For example, in 1926, the year the film ends, he would have been 46, no longer particularly "young" and more than a decade older than Rod Taylor was in 1965.

The film opens 1911 when Cassidy is working as a labourer in Dublin and chronicles the beginning of his literary career, ending with the performance of his play "The Plough and the Stars", which provokes a riot at the Abbey Theatre. The film also chronicles his relations with his family, his love life and his commitment to both socialism and Irish nationalism. Other historical figures are introduced, such as W.B. Yeats, Ireland's leading writer who hails Cassidy as an outstanding new talent, and the literary patron Lady Gregory.

The film's main weakness is perhaps summed by a critic's reaction to one of Cassidy's plays, namely that it is strong on character and weak on plot. The same could be said about the film itself. Although the various characters are well developed, there is no strongly developed plot line. There are occasional action sequences, in themselves well done, such as the scenes of the "Dublin Lock-Out" (a violent industrial dispute) of 1913, the Easter Rising of 1916 and the "Plough and the Stars" riot, in between these the film is rather static and dominated by conversation

Potentially interesting themes tend to be dealt with in a throwaway manner. Cassidy's girlfriend Nora rejects his proposal of marriage and leaves him, even though she is deeply in love with him, because she fears that marriage will have a deleterious effect on his artistic creativity. The idea of a woman sacrificing her happiness for her lover's art could have been an interesting one- could, indeed, have furnished the subject-matter for a whole film- but here it is dealt with very briefly.

Similarly the film touches on, but does not really deal with, the underlying tension between the two political causes to which Cassidy gives his allegiance- socialism, with its ideals of international brotherhood, and Irish nationalism, with its ethos of "ourselves alone" (the literal meaning of the Irish phrase Sinn Fein). It was in fact this tension which led to the "Plough and the Stars" riot, when conservative, middle-class nationalists in the audience took exception to O'Casey's more left-wing perspective and what they saw as his disrespectful attitude to the "heroes" of the Easter Rising. (They also objected to his treatment of religion and sex, especially his making one of his characters a prostitute; in the film one protesting woman exclaims that there is not a single prostitute in the whole of Ireland!)

The film does, however, also have its strong points, and its two greatest strengths are its sense of place- the Dublin of the 1910s and 1920s is brought vividly to life- and the acting. Strangely enough, few of the leading actors were actually Irish- Taylor was Australian and Maggie Smith, Julie Christie, Michael Redgrave, Edith Evans and Flora Robson were all English. (Christie received second billing even though for such a well-known actress she had a surprisingly small role, that of Cassidy's early mistress Daisy Battles). Nevertheless, the Irish accents are well done and never go over the top as sometimes happens with English actors called upon to play Irish roles. Taylor makes Cassidy a strong and rugged hero, and Robson is particularly good as Cassidy's stoical, long-suffering working-class mother.

"Young Cassidy" has its points of interest, but overall I felt that O'Casey was obviously a fascinating character, both as a man and as a writer, and that a stronger biography could have been made of him. 6/10


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