“There are things to be written in this country by brutal, drunken working men like me.”
Famed playwright John Cassidy (Rod Taylor) fights for Ireland’s freedom, falls in love with a bookstore employee (Maggie Smith), and sees his first plays performed.
- John Ford Films
- Maggie Smith Films
- Michael Redgrave Films
- Rod Taylor Films
Many viewers seem to agree that this biopic of playwright Sean O’Casey‘s early years (based on his memoirs) features fine performances, but fails to cohere as a compelling narrative. Taylor is wonderful as Cassidy (why was O’Casey’s name changed?), and it’s nice to see young Maggie Smith playing a romantic role; however, the story as a whole simply isn’t all that interesting. As noted in The New York Times’ review, the screenwriters never establish what Cassidy is fighting for in the earliest scenes — and, though we can fill in the blanks with our own knowledge of Irish history, it’s frustrating to be given so little information. The most interesting scenes in the film come at the very end, when Cassidy is forced to face the fact that Ireland isn’t ready for the type of “raw” story he wants to tell.
Redeeming Qualities and Moments:
- Rod Taylor’s powerful performance as John Cassidy
- Maggie Smith as Cassidy’s love interest, Nora
- A fine depiction of turn-of-the-century Ireland
No. Despite Taylor’s strong performance, this is not must-see viewing.