The Luck of the Irish


1h 39m 1948

Film Details

Also Known As
For Fear of Little Men, Leave It to the Irish, That Old Magic, The Shamrock Touch
Release Date
Sep 1948
Premiere Information
Los Angeles opening: 3 Sep 1948
Production Company
Twentieth Century-Fox Film Corp.
Distribution Company
Twentieth Century-Fox Film Corp.
Country
United States
Screenplay Information
Based on the novel There Was a Little Man by Guy Pearce Jones and Constance Bridges Jones (New York, 1948).

Technical Specs

Duration
1h 39m
Sound
Mono
Color
Black and White
Theatrical Aspect Ratio
1.37 : 1
Film Length
8,931ft (11 reels)

Synopsis

On their way by car to Shannon Airport in Ireland, freelance American newspaperman Stephen "Fitz" Fitzgerald and his European editor Bill Clark, get lost in the countryside. When their car sinks after breaking through the floor of an old wooden bridge, Fitz leaves to seek help. Beside a waterfall, in the middle of a wood, Fitz encounters Horace, an old shoemaker sporting a green coat with brass buttons. Horace gives him directions to the village of Ballynabun, where Fitz and Bill take rooms at the Kittiwake Inn. As the village is sealocked, they must wait for a trawler to transport them to their destination. Fitz mentions having been at the waterfall to Taedy, the innkeeper, who is amazed to hear about the old shoemaker and tells him that there is no waterfall and that the man he met was a leprechaun. Later that night, Fitz sees Horace come for a bottle of whisky Taedy has left out for him and follows him. When Fitz catches Horace and asks to see his fabled "pot o' gold," Horace reluctantly digs it up for him. Fitz discovers that the coins are genuine and gives them back to Horace, who, out of gratitude, presents him with one of the coins as and then disappears behind the waterfall. The next morning, Fitz wakes up and wonders if he dreamed about the meeting with Horace. Nora, who works at the inn, also tells Fitz that there is no waterfall, so he takes her to the spot, but finds only woods. After they spot the trawler approaching, Fitz tosses Horaces's coin for luck, and Nora identifies it as a sixteenth century Spanish doubloon, which she claims are quite common in the area. Later Nora and Bill say goodbye to Fitz, who is headed for a new job in New York. There Fitz reports to D. C. Augur, the head of New Era Publications. Augur tells Fitz that he intends to run for the U.S. Senate and assigns him to write his speeches. Fitz then rekindles his romance with Augur's daughter, Frances. Soon after, Horace shows up at Fitz's apartment, which Augur has leased for him, in the guise of a man servant, and claims to have been sent by an employment agency engaged by Augur. Horace denies that he and Fitz have met before even after Fitz shows him the doubloon. When Horace is driving Fitz to an appointment, the car mysteriously breaks down and Fitz is forced to take the subway, where he loses his wallet to a pickpocket and encounters Nora. She thinks he is broke and invites him to lunch at an Irish tavern. There she explains that a relative of Taedy's has died in New York and she is there to straighten out the estate for him. Later, Augur asks Fitz to recant an earlier article he has written, which he feels is not in accord with his political stance, but Fitz, who is becoming disenchanted with Augur, refuses to compromise. Augur orders him to do it, however, and as Fitz begins to write, Horace explains the master/servant relationship to him. Feeling exploited, Fitz tells Frances he is going to quit, but she advises him that if her father's campaign is successful, he will need someone to run the publishing business, and Fitz finds the prospect appealing. Having received a cable from Nora that Fitz needs a job, Bill offers him an assignment in Italy and is disappointed to learn that Fitz is still working for Augur. Fitz goes to explain his situation to Nora at the tavern where a traditional Irish wedding is taking place. After he discovers that she is returning to Ireland the next day, he gets involved in a brawl with her escort, Terrance Flaherty, who knocks him out. When he comes to, he finds Nora caring for him and they embrace, but he later confesses that he is supposed to marry Frances in a month's time. Fitz then returns to his apartment to find Horace making shoes and asks him to explain how the doubloon in his pocket has turned into a pebble. Horace finally confesses that he is indeed a leprechaun and that he joined Fitz in New York out of gratitude for his not having taken the pot o' gold. During a major speech at the Journalists' Club, Augur announces that, if he is elected, he will resign from running his publishing company and appoint Fitz as his successor. As Fitz prepares to respond, he sees the room fill with "Horaces," and then declines the offer, saying Augur needs someone who agrees with him. When asked about his future plans, Fitz replies that he is going to sit under a waterfall with an old friend. Later, back in Ireland, Fitz, who has married Nora and lives at the inn, where Horace can keep an eye on them, argues with Bill over his latest article.

Film Details

Also Known As
For Fear of Little Men, Leave It to the Irish, That Old Magic, The Shamrock Touch
Release Date
Sep 1948
Premiere Information
Los Angeles opening: 3 Sep 1948
Production Company
Twentieth Century-Fox Film Corp.
Distribution Company
Twentieth Century-Fox Film Corp.
Country
United States
Screenplay Information
Based on the novel There Was a Little Man by Guy Pearce Jones and Constance Bridges Jones (New York, 1948).

Technical Specs

Duration
1h 39m
Sound
Mono
Color
Black and White
Theatrical Aspect Ratio
1.37 : 1
Film Length
8,931ft (11 reels)

Award Nominations

Best Supporting Actor

1948
Cecil Kellaway

Quotes

Trivia

Notes

This film had several working titles including That Old Magic, The Shamrock Touch and began shooting as For Fear of Little Men, changing to Leave It to the Irish towards the end of production. According to information in the Twentieth Century-Fox Records of the Legal Department and the Twentieth Century-Fox Produced Scripts Collection at the UCLA Arts-Special Collections Library, the studio purchased Guy and Constance Jones's unpublished novel For Fear of Little Men in July 1947 for $50,000. The novel was published in March of the following year under the title There Was a Little Man. Peggy Cummins was an early contender for the role of "Nora," and Barry Fitzgerald and Scottish actor Will Fyffe were considered for the role of "Horace." Dublin-born actor J. M. Kerrigan, who contributed dialogue revisions for the film, also functioned as dialogue coach. The Call Bureau Cast Service lists J. Farrell MacDonald as appearing in a bit part as a Captain but his role was cut before the film's release. In addition to "The Rose of Tralee," the film's score included excerpts from a number of Irish traditional airs including "Norah O'Neale," "The Leprechaun," "The Foggy Dew," "Garryowen," and "Irish Washer Woman". For the film's initial release, the Irish sequences were printed on green-toned stock. Cecil Kellaway was nominated for an Oscar in the Best Supporting Actor category. In an oral history for the Screen Directors' Guild, Henry Koster described an atmospheric sequence he designed and shot in which he introduced "Horace," but this was cut by studio head Darryl Zanuck, who felt that it slowed down the beginning of the film. A Lux Radio Theatre version of the screenplay was broadcast on December 27, 1948 and starred Anne Baxter and Dana Andrews.