The Plough and the Stars

USA 1937. Dir: John Ford. 72 min. DCP

Hollywood heavyweight John Ford, proud of his Irish heritage, directed several “Irish” films. Two of them, The Informer and The Quiet Man, won Best Director Oscars. Made not long after The Informer, The Plough and the Stars adapts the Sean O’Casey play that caused a riot at Dublin’s Abbey Theatre in 1926. Barbara Stanwyck plays Nora Clitheroe, a fearful wife clashing with her husband Jack (Preston Foster) over his involvement in the 1916 Irish uprising. Ford wanted to import the entire cast of the original Dublin stage production; RKO studio, however, insisted on Stanwyck in the lead (and also fiddled with the film’s final cut). Many of the original Irish players do appear, including Barry Fitzgerald, here beginning his long Hollywood career. In 1965’s Young Cassidy — also screening in this series — Ford dramatized playwright O’Casey’s life and the controversy surrounding his 1926 play.