7 Classic Movies for St. Patrick's Day

A list of 7 classic movies in or about Ireland is here just in time for St. Patrick's Day. Enjoy!

Classic Movies Mostly About Ireland
  • Little Nellie Kelly (1940) - Judy Garland plays a double role as an Irish lady named Nellie Kelly, then later as Nellie's daughter Little Nellie.  The first half of the film or so is set in Ireland, the rest in New York, complete with a St. Patrick's Day parade in which Garland sings an uptempo song. George Murphy is on hand to give a stirring performance as Little Nellie Kelly's adoring father. Though the title is all about Garland's character, this is really Murphy's movie.
  • The Luck of the Irish (1948) - Tyrone Power's Irish version of Brigadoon. An American city guy enjoys the simple life in rural Ireland and finds a leprechaun. Returning home to be lured into possible political corruption with his girlfriend and her father, the man longs for  Ireland again and the woman he left behind. Plus, that new butler seems awfully familiar... and magical.
  • The Quiet Man (1952) remains a perennial favorite, not only for its two powerful leads - John Wayne and Maureen O'Hara- but also because its one of few classic movies about Ireland which is shot on location.

Classic Movies with Prominent Irish or Irish-American Characters
  • Boys Town (1938) -  Watch Spencer Tracy's Academy Award-winning portrayal of the real-life Father Flanagan, founder of an orphanage and troubled youth center. 
  • Going My Way (1944) - The traditional and the unconventional butt heads a few times when Father Charles O'Malley (Bing Crosby) and Father Fitzgibbon (Barry Fitzgerald)  differ on how to handle problems in the parish. Crosby sings "Too-Ra-Loo-Ra-Loo-Ral." Oscar wins for the two leads.
  • The Happiest Millionaire (1967) - It's the early 20th century and John Lawless (Tommy Steele) is fresh from County Tyrone with a position as butler to an eccentric Philadelphia millionaire (Fred MacMurray). John is a supporting character but can manipulate the storyline when necessary. He is the voice of reason, predicts we'll one day have an Irish President and occasionally breaks the fourth wall to wink at the audience.
  • Up In Central Park (1948) - Based on a Broadway musical, this film follows a father and daughter in the late 19th century, new to the U.S. from Ireland, who are unwittingly drawn into the political corruption of New York's Boss Tweed (Vincent Price). Barry Fitzgerald is on hand  to give a funny and warm portrayal as the opinionated father. Deanna Durbin is the unsuspecting young lady, charmed by the high life of Tweed's New York. Dick Haymes is on hand as a journalist determined to end Tweed's imperial stranglehold on the city.

Honorable Mention

  • Auntie Mame (1958) takes an interesting meta turn with a character by allowing Brian O'Bannion to be aware of Irish stereotypes and use them to his advantage.
  • Dust off your copy of Riverdance: The Show (1995) -You know you still have it!- and start stomping!
  • Gene Kelly's character O'Brian in Take Me Out To the Ballgame (1949) sings and dances a rousing rendition of "The Hat Me Dear Old Father Wore" in tribute to his heritage.
  • Far and Away (1992) is a  plucky little film starring Tom Cruise and Nicole Kidman that catches flak for any number of things. However, it perfectly captures the essence of themes such as searching for freedom, completely changing your life, moving from your homeland - quite common occurrences which take uncommon determination and drive. Plus, I'm a sucker for grand orchestration and sweeping crane shots.

 What are your favorite Irish-themed movies?


  1. Don't forget Jennifer Aniston in "Leprechaun."

    Just kidding.

    Being a Dennis Morgan fan, I have a huge soft spot for "My Wild Irish Rose." There's a number in there which is the greenest thing I've ever seen.

    "Up in Central Park" is cute, but a huge disservice to the original. Most of the score was jettisoned, including the film's best known song, "Close as Pages in a Book." Have no idea what Universal was thinking there.

    Speaking of Dick Haymes, his "Irish Eyes are Smiling" with June Haver is as light as a feather, but very agreeable and the Fox Technicolor photography is gorgeous.

  2. "The Quiet Man" is one of my Top 5 favorite movies! Great list!

  3. Good list! "Take Me Out to the Ballgame" is one I'm keen to see.

  4. My Wild Irish Rose, I haven't seen. Thanks for the recommendation, Kevin.

    JG, I can't get over the fact that The Quiet Man's outdoor shots are not on the lot! I love location shooting!

  5. silverscreenings, Take Me Out to the Ballgame will appear April 1st at 1pm (ET) on TCM.


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"Java's Journey: A really fun, informative well-written blog that explores all of the things - and I mean all - I love about classic films."-- Flick Chick of A Person In The Dark Email: java-rush@hotmail.com


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