Thursday, March 17, 2011

To Thine Own Celt Be True

Aye and begorrah! If it isn't everyone's favorite swashbuckler* Tyrone Power playing the part of one Stephen Fitzgerald in the 1948 film The Luck of the Irish. And is not it just great that Fitzgerald just happens to be an Irish-American freelance journalist -- not to be confused with one F. Scott Fitzgerald -- who has gone back to the old sod on his way back to New York from Europe? And who should he come across in this odd enchanted land save a not so wee member of the wee folk (played by Cecil Kellaway). A leprechaun, that is, who looks uncannily like the guy who played Veronica Lake's father in I Married a Witch.

Fortunately, Power's adventures with the supernatural prove a lot more benign in this movie than Fredric March's were in I Married a Witch. If anything, one may say they prove too benign. Fitzgerald wins over the trust and affection of a centuries-old shoemaker so quickly that one might be tempted to dismiss the whole affair as a load of cobblers.

But then Fitzgerald meets Nora (played by Anne Baxter), a local colleen whose charm is such that she may be a supernatural being as well. Unfortunately, Fitzgerald is also engaged to a rich American girl named Frances (played by Jayne Meadows) and has promised to take a job with her father David Augur (played by Lee J. Cobb), a powerful newspaperman seeking to make a run for the Senate. Fitzgerald does not agree with many of David Augur's political stands but he finds the combination of Frances' glamour and her father's money to be a powerful temptation.

Of course, one does not have to have seen many American movies to guess whom Fitzgerald will choose when he is forced to decide between the poor and humble Nora and the not-so-poor and not-so-humble Frances. But I must admit I found the way to that decision to be quite interesting. However, I did find it unusual to see a movie made in the Yankee Doodle Dandy era which actually encouraged the audience to cheer on a fellow who ultimately chose to emigrate back to his ancestral homeland rather than to stay and make a go of it in America -- moreover, one which encouraged the audience to applaud his decision to pass over a nice red-blooded American girl in favor of some foreigner.

Then again, if I had a certain bright-eyed colleen waiting for me in the Emerald Isle, I would be tempted to make the same choices Stephen Fitzgerald ultimately made -- and I would not need any supernatural intervention to help me make up my mind.

* Apart from Errol Flynn, natch.

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