Fairfield University's Irish Studies film series returns October 1


Fairfield University's Irish Studies Committee has joined forces once again with American Studies to present their fourth consecutive movie series "The Irish in Film." As in the past, four films will be presented during the fall semester, each previewed by a professor who teaches in the Irish Studies minor. The films will be shown in the Multimedia Room of the DiMenna-Nyselius Library on Wednesday evenings at 7:00 p.m. Fairfield University students and the community are welcome to this free event. Light refreshments will be served.

The series begins on Wednesday, Oct.1 with James Cagney and Pat O'Brien in the classic gangster film, "Angels with Dirty Faces" (1938). The story concerns two friends who grew up in the slums of New York City: Rocky (Cagney) becomes a criminal, and Jerry (O'Brien) is a priest who works with kids, trying to keep them from getting into trouble. Humphrey Bogart plays Frazier, a corrupt lawyer who undermines the priest's efforts to reform the city government. Although Jerry can't convince Rocky to quit his life of crime, he does get through to his conscience as the "tough guy" eventually does right by the kids. Cagney received his first Best Actor Academy Award nomination for his performance. Dr. Leo O'Connor, director of American Studies, teaches the film course "Images of the Irish in American Film" and will introduce the movie on Oct. 1.

The series continues on Oct.15 with Sir Carol Reed's classic film noir "Odd Man Out" (1947), starring James Mason as Johnny McQueen, the chief of a Northern Irish revolutionary organization based on the IRA. Johnny and his comrades stage a robbery in which he is wounded and kills a man, then tries to escape the Belfast police with a bounty on his head. The film examines the "troubles" in the North and the community's refusal to help the rebels.  A love story unfolds between Johnny and Kathleen (Kathleen Ryan), who does her best to save the revolutionary. F.L Green, who also wrote the screenplay, bases the film on the novel of the same title. Dr. Robert Epstein, associate professor of English, will provide an introduction to the film.

Featured on Wednesday, Oct. 29, is Jim Sheridan's "The Boxer" (1997) starring Daniel-Day Lewis in the title role. This powerful and moving film is set in Belfast during the IRA cease-fire of 1994. Danny Flynn, the best boxer in Ulster, has just been released after 14 years in prison for his IRA activities. In a spirit of reconciliation, Danny starts a boxing program for both Catholic and Protestant boys. Emily Watson plays Danny's former girl friend, now married to his best friend. All of Danny's efforts are mixed in with resistance in a politically charged city where going outside the tribal code can prove deadly. Introducing the film, is Dr. Kevin Cassidy, director Irish Studies, who teaches the course, Northern Ireland: The Politics of War and Peace.

The final film in the fall series, "The Fighting Prince of Donegal" (1966) will be shown on Wednesday, Nov. 12. Dr. William Abbott, associate professor of History, chose the film as the most profound expression of the Irish longing for independence. He cites as an example of the determination born of this longing, the Dublin-born revolutionary Robert Emmet, who was executed for his role in inciting the 1803 Rebellion, when he presciently spoke for all Irish republicans as he uttered the famous words, "When my country takes her place among the nations of the earth, then and not till then, let my epitaph be written."

The swashbuckling adventure story is based on the historical figure, Red Hugh O'Donnell, Prince of Donegal, and stars Peter McEnery as the prince. Set during the time of Queen Elizabeth I, this elaborate production contains many accurate details from Red Hugh's life. In 1593, he boldly declared war against England. With the help of the O'Neill clan and ultimately, the support of the Spanish, he led a resistance against the English occupation in the North of Ireland. Directed by Irish-born Michael O'Herlihy, the film's production values are meticulous; music is drawn from a 16th-century Irish folksong, "O'Donell Aboo" and the costumes are precise and detailed reflections of the period. Dr. Abbott will present the film.

For more information, please contact Dr. Kevin Cassidy, director of Irish Studies at (203) 254-4000, ext. 2862 or by e-mail at kjcassidy@mail.fairfield.edu

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Media Contact: Nancy Habetz, (203) 254-4000, ext. 2647, nhabetz@fairfield.edu

Posted on September 3, 2008

Vol. 41, No. 38