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Ed Begley Jr.,
Two families in Belfast, one Protestant and one Catholic, find that their long-standing friendship is threatened by the escalating sectarian violence that surrounds them. Written by
To use the word "authenticity" on the same page as this piece of doggerel is either a travesty of the truth or a betrayal of the writer's ignorance. I saw it in 1973, when it was on general release in Dublin, and the audience laughed with derision throughout.
To begin with the detail, it was filmed in Dublin, with Dublin buses careering around the background. The setting could have been made believable with care, but it was a low budget production and reeked of cheapness all the way through.
The characters, for the most part, had Southern Irish accents (Yes, we do speak differently up North). What's worse, they were lazy stereotypes; stage Oirish from start to finish (of which, more later). The police and army were stage villains, worthy of pantomime. The RUC were shown beating the heroic republican prisoners with blackthorn sticks. If this was shorthand, it was unreadable. The young soldier who fell in love with Jenny Agutter's west Belfast girl, was shown borrowing a Land-Rover to drive himself around Belfast, alone and unarmed. If this is authenticity, I've clearly been on drugs for 30 years.
The finale was particularly risible. The oppressed prisoners were being transferred by armoured car and truck, across misty, high moorland, to another, probably more oppressive, concentration camp, when, out of the mist, a toothless crone appeared, clad in the obligatory shawl (everybody in Belfast wore them in the 70s, don'tchaknow). She stumbled in front of the lead armoured car, to be hailed by the villainous British officer (they're all villains - ask Mel Gibson), with words to the effect of "I say there old crone, get out of the bally way". She replied with a stereotypical Belfast riposte to British officers: "Oi'm sorry yer honour". At this point, hordes of people streamed down the mountainside and rescue the heroic prisoners.
Yes folks. It happened just like that in real life. I'm from Northern Ireland originally. I only left 7 years ago. So I can vouch for its authenticity. Even the Dublin audience could see how true to life it was. As my mother used to say, "I haven't laughed as many since I was a children".
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