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The Plough and the Stars (1936)

Approved | | Drama | 26 December 1936 (USA)
A husband clashes with his wife over his membership to the Irish citizen army.


John Ford


Dudley Nichols (screenplay), Sean O'Casey (play)


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Cast overview, first billed only:
Barbara Stanwyck ... Nora Clitheroe
Preston Foster ... Jack Clitheroe
Barry Fitzgerald ... Fluther
Denis O'Dea ... The Covey
Eileen Crowe Eileen Crowe ... Bessie Burgess
F.J. McCormick F.J. McCormick ... Brennan
Una O'Connor ... Mrs. Gogan
Arthur Shields ... Irish Leader
Moroni Olsen ... Irish Leader
J.M. Kerrigan ... Uncle Peter
Bonita Granville ... Mollser
Erin O'Brien-Moore ... Rosie
Neil Fitzgerald Neil Fitzgerald ... Langon
Robert Homans ... Barman
Brandon Hurst ... Sergeant Tinley


A husband clashes with his wife over his membership to the Irish citizen army.

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis




Approved | See all certifications »






Release Date:

26 December 1936 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

Sean O'Casey's The Plough and the Stars See more »

Company Credits

Production Co:

RKO Radio Pictures See more »
Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs


Sound Mix:

Mono (RCA Victor System)

Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
See full technical specs »

Did You Know?


The Starry Plough banner (Irish: An Camchéachta) was originally used by the Irish Citizen Army, a socialist Irish republican movement. The original Starry Plough was unveiled in 1914 and flown over the Imperial Hotel by the Irish Citizen Army during the 1916 Easter Rising. See more »

Crazy Credits

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.



Version of ITV Play of the Week: The Plough and the Stars (1961) See more »

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User Reviews

Barbara Stanwyck was 100% wrong for this film....and you wonder who thought it was a good idea to cast her in this film of the Easter Rebellion.
4 August 2016 | by MartinHaferSee all my reviews

John Ford made most of his films for Twentieth Century Fox and perhaps much of it was because the studio let the director do what he wanted. After all, he was a proved commodity--an Oscar-winning director with a great track record. But with this film he did for RKO, apparently Ford was NOT thrilled and even walked off...forcing the studio to finish the film without him due to creative differences. Ford apparently hated the final product.

I am not sure why Ford was so disenchanted with the project, but I would hazard to guess that at least some of his disgust was the decision to cast Barbara Stanwyck in the lead. Now I do not have anything against her...she was a fine actress. But the film is about Ireland and she sounds absolutely nothing like an Irish woman...nothing. Heck, Hattie McDaniel would have been about as convincing in this role! She couldn't even approximate the accent...and in most of the film she didn't seem to try. Her character was also extremely whiny...too much so. As for the other co-star, Preston Foster, he was much more convincing and was well cast. So for me, this was a HUGE strike against the movie at the onset.

When the film begins, you learn that Nora (Stanwyck) has hidden a letter that arrived for her husband, Jack (Foster). The letter was appointing him a leader in the Irish militia...and soon they would be involved in the infamous Easter Uprising. Well, Nora is NOT the patriotic sort and is actually rather selfish--and she later begs him not to join in the fighting and to reject his appointment. Jack is not about to do this, as he's a loyal patriot.

Much of the rest of the film is made up of the rebellion as well as its aftermath--most of which time Nora whines and complains and seems to care not one bit about her native land...which is pretty weird and pretty despicable. In fact, her character and performance were pretty awful and the film left me wanting to see her get killed or at least horse whipped. And, even more oddly, the film ends this way...with Nora whining and having no care about the deaths of others or her Republic. I have no idea WHAT the point of the film was...and I could see how audiences left confused and unsatisfied. A rather terrible film, actually...

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