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W.S. Van Dyke
The significance of the banner was that a free Ireland would control its own destiny from the plough to the stars. See more »
Opening credits prologue: The spring of 1916 found a divided Ireland, torn by conflicting Loyalties. Thousands of her sons were at the front fighting the cause of England in the World War. Other thousands remained home planning another fight---a fight, under the flag of the Plough and the Stars, to free their country so that Ireland could take its place among the nations of the world.
Sean O'Casey, Ireland's greatest playwright, probably was lucky to have his work about the Irish rebellion made by John Ford. The former Sean O'Fearna had a brother in the IRA back in the day so he knew quite a bit about it.
I saw this year's ago and could kick myself for not getting a VHS copy of this when it was out. What I remember best was Ford's good use of newsreel footage edited into the story of the Clitheroe family and how the Easter Rebellion is affecting their lives in Dublin.
Preston Foster and Barbara Stanwyck make fine leads. Foster had just come off a good part in John Ford's more well known Irish work, The Informer. And Stanwyck was a good enough actress to cover up the somewhat phony brogue she adopted. That was not the only time she used the brogue. You can hear her as Molly Monahan in Cecil B. DeMille's Union Pacific which is readily available and broadcast often.
Sean O'Casey had a bigger world view than just Irish independence. Very much like that greatest of Irish patriots Daniel O'Connell. He wanted a just society to emerge as well. I think it has in the Republic. I think Mr. O'Casey would be at home in Dublin now. He might want to see the six counties reunited, but wouldn't want blood spilled to do it.
The other performance you will remember is Arthur Shields as Padriac Pearse. By the way Shields and brother Barry Fitzgerald were in real life Ulster Protestants.
Ford concentrated on the nationalist part of the struggle and while The Plough and the Stars might be a bit too much like a photographed stage play it's still good drama. More Ford than O'Casey though.
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