Review of Darby O’Gill and the Little People

This past weekend we had a good time celebrating St. Patrick’s Day. We aren’t Catholic or Irish, but getting caught up in a celebratory event of this sort is fun despite the fact we don’t participate fully. Of course, we had to have corned beef and cabbage for dinner on Sunday. Rebecca adds a few items of her own including carrots, onions, potatoes, and (interestingly enough) parsnips. Corned bread completes the dinner in most cases, but this year we decided to have some of her delicious homemade bread instead.

Part of our celebration has always involves watching Darby O’Gill and the Little People. Yes, the movie came out in 1959, so many people will likely think that it’s had its day and no one should really bother with it anymore. However, this is a G rated movie that really is quite a lot of fun and it has some amazing special effects considering when it was made. The part I like best about this movie is that it can have a lot of fun without an overpowering script or any of the other baggage that seems necessary in movies today. Some movies are meant solely to entertain and this is one of them. There truly isn’t anything to think about—just enjoy the ride.

The movie takes place in old Ireland. Of course, there is a lord of the manor and Darby works for him. Even though the movie doesn’t apparently have any sort of specific time in mind, people are still moving around by horseback and butter is churned, not purchased at a store. The tavern is a place for exchanging the gossip of the day and it isn’t unusual to find the priest there enjoying a glass of stout. It’s a carefree sort of a movie and I’m sure that the scenery is a caricature of Ireland, rather than the real thing. It presents a idyllic scene of what we think things might have been like.

Don’t get the idea that the movie is lacking in the plot area though. This movie does have an interesting plot that includes dealings with the leprechauns, of course. (These leprechauns are a fun sort, not the dark sort found in some other movies.) There is a certain amount of drama, part of which includes a lost girl and a dark, stormy night. One of the action scenes shows two young bucks fighting over the same girl. Perhaps some of the ideas are a bit clichéd, but they’re done in a way that doesn’t make them feel old or tired.

The movie does include some scenes where it is obvious that people are drinking. In fact, there are drunken people in a few places. The drinking and drunks are portrayed in a way that a few people will find unappealing today (remember that the movie was made in 1959 and attitudes were different at that time). If you really want to keep your kids away from all mention of alcohol, this is probably one movie to skip. Otherwise, you can probably discuss the matter afterward and leave things go at that. I doubt very much that most children will even notice the drunken adults as being drunken.

Overall, Darby O’Gill is the right sort of movie to watch on St. Patrick’s Day, whether you’re Irish or not. It’s a lot of fun and the good guys win, of course. What’s not quite so obvious at times is who is good and who is not. You only truly find out the details at the end of the movie.