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I’ve only seen “Darby O’Gill and the Little People,” the latest installment of the Visalia Fox Theatre’s Way Back Wednesday’s classic film series, once and it scared the hell out of me.
Full disclosure, though: I was probably about 5- or 6-years-old when Disney re-released the 1959 film to theaters back in the late 1970s. (This was in the days before home video, so Disney regularly re-released its classic films to theaters for new generations of kids.)
I’m sure my parents thought a film about cute little leprechauns would be harmless. Unfortunately, they must have forgotten about the horrifying (at least to this 5-year-old) banshees that showed up to terrorize the film’s characters.
Since my traumatic run-in with the banshees, I’ve only seen clips of “Darby O’Gill and the Little People,” probably best known as the very young Sean Connery’s first movie before he came a superstar in the James Bond franchise.
Over the years, I’ve read reviews of how “Darby O’Gill and the Little People,” despite utterly messing up Irish folklore, surprisingly holds up, mostly because of its charming performances and fun special effects.
If you still have a taste for films about Ireland after you see “Darby O’Gill and the Little People” on Wednesday, here are 10 other recommended titles about the Emerald Isle you watch this St. Patrick’s Day weekend:
- “Brooklyn” (2015): Yes, most of this movie about a young Irish woman (Saoirse Ronan) is set in America, but a major part of Irish life for the past 200 years revolves around emigration, especially to the United States.
- “The Commitments” (1991): Dublin is the background for this toe-tapping story of “the hardest working band in the world.” A satisfying tale of an ambitious young Dubliner who takes on the challenge of assembling and managing a ‘60s-style soul band made up of other working-class musicians.
- “The Secret of Roan Inish” (1994): Gentle, charming tale of a girl who is sent to live with her grandparents on the west coast of Ireland and discovers the myths and magic that have affected her family. It works its spell on you.
- “Waking Ned Devine” (1998): After an elderly man living in a small Irish village dies of shock when he wins the lottery, his fellow townsfolk attempt to claim the money be covering up the man’s death.
- “The Guard” (2011): The culture clash between a stuffy FBI agent (Don Cheadle) and a small-town Irish cop (Brendan Gleeson) is on display in this quirky comedy/drama.
- “Sing Street” (2016): Set in 1980s Dublin, this delightful comedy tells the story of a teenage boy who starts a band to impress a girl. The sweet, nostalgic film was unabashedly romantic, optimistic and kind of goofy.
- “Bloody Sunday” (2002): A gripping depiction of the killing of 13 peaceful Catholic protestors by British troops in 1972 Northern Ireland. The massacre led to an explosion of violence between the IRA, Protestant groups and British troops that lasted until the Good Friday Agreement in 1998.
- “Intermission” (2003): Set in Dublin, this dazzling film tells the seemingly unrelated stories of a half dozen characters whose lives come crashing together in an explosion of violence, romance and Ireland’s infamous condiment Brown sauce.
- “Calvary” (2014): Ireland’s always complicated relationship with Roman Catholicism is depicted in this dark comedy/drama about a priest (Brendan Gleeson) who gets a death threat from an anonymous parishioner.
- “The Wind That Shakes The Barley” (2006): Ken Loach’s powerful, desperately sad tale about the Irish Revolution and the Civil War in 1920 features a heartbreaking performance by Cillian Murphy as a young student caught up in the violence. Besides the powerful story, the film also featured some gorgeous shots of County Cork.
The USA TODAY NETWORK contributed to this report.
How to attend
“Darby O’Gill and the Little People” screens Wednesday. March 14. All films begin at 6:30 p.m. and doors open 30 minutes prior to show time. Tickets are $5 per movie. Free popcorn is available to the first 100 guests at each screening.
Other Way Back Wednesdays titles
April 4: “Stalag 17” (1953) — Billy Wilder’s classic film about a German POW camp barracks black marketeer who is suspected of being an informer.
May 16: “The Maltese Falcon” (1941) — Humphrey Bogart stars as a private dick on the hunt for a priceless statuette in this classic film noir.
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