Monday, April 20, 2009

Old School Disney makes for excellent Leprechauns.

At my elementary school, we used to have "Movie Day" at the beginning and end of the year. All the classes got to bring pillows and blankets and camp out on the gym floor as they projected Classic Disney films onto the wall drive-in style. This would have been from about 1980 to maybe 1984, when I moved away. So, for a total of about 8 times, I got to be exposed to some of the classics that have imprinted themselves onto my brain and forced me to shell out money as an adult to build my own collection of Old School Disney. There is an actual "Disney Classics" label which some of them have been released under, but there are others that I deem classic that haven't made it. One that has, though, and probably one of the finest of the whole bunch, is Darby O'Gill and the Little People. This is set in Ireland, and is the story of a older man (Darby, played by Albert Sharpe) who captures the king of the Leprechauns and tries to get him to own up to the whereabouts of his Pot 0' Gold. This man's daughter, Katie (Janet Munro), who looks after him, is unmarried and pays little heed to her old dad's crazy notions about the Little People because he likes to take a nip now and then. There's a subplot wherein our lovely Katie gets to have a romance with a young pre-Bond Sean Connery, who is incredibly handsome, and also a scene in which we see a banshee, which fueled many a nightmare in my younger days, which in no way affected my opinion of this movie. I LOVE IT. It has got an original premise, jaunty musical numbers, surprisingly good special-effects-tiny-leprechauns with live actors for 1959 (even though a few strings are visible here and there) and some excellent repartee betwixt our main guy and the leprechaun, King Brian. And if you aren't scared of banshees after you see this film, you are a strong character. I appreciate that this movie was made long enough ago that they hadn't started softening up and dumbing down plotlines for our precious youth, and really, if your kid is so protected from hardship, then maybe they only learn about death from movies, which is better than being forced to be a child soldier in Sudan or some such. I remember parents complaining 35 years later when the animated father lion got killed in the Lion King. Ridiculous! That banshee and various other aspects of Darby O'Gill lend it not only cultural integrity, but the right kind of thrills to sear those images into a 7 year-old's brain and make her blog about them twenty-some years later. AND, you get to be reminded again not to mess with the King of the Leprechauns, which is always good advice (along with that little chestnut about land wars in Asia). Incidentally, I feel a LOT of Classic Disney posts a-brewin', so if I ever refer to OSD in the header, that's a sign that you are about to go for a ride on the Old School Disney Nostalgia Express. Enjoy.

1 comment:

  1. I just revisited "Bedknobs and Broomsticks." Really blew my mind.