The Plough and the Stars (1937)

65 or 67 mins | Drama | 15 January 1937

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HISTORY

Sean O'Casey's name appears above the film's title. Barry Fitzgerald, Denis O'Dea, Eileen Crowe, F. J. McCormick and Arthur Shields, Fitzgerald's brother, (who is credited on the film as having "assisted" Ford in his direction), were Abbey Theatre players who had acted in O'Casey's long-running play in Dublin. All of the above cast members except Fitzgerald made their talking-picture debuts in this film. ( The Plough and the Stars was Fitzgerald's first American film.) Una O'Connor and J. M. Kerrigan were former Abbey Theatre members. Eileen Crowe and F. J. McCormick were married at the time of this production. Studio publicity touted the film, which was the last film John Ford directed for RKO, as a natural successor to the successful 1935 film, The Informer (see above). Ford, Dudley Nichols, George Bernard McNulty, Joseph August and Cliff Reid also worked together on The Informer . According to HR , RKO wanted to borrow Spencer Tracy to play the Jack Clitheroe part, but M-G-M refused to loan the actor because they felt the part was not strong enough. Articles in NYT give the following information about the production: Maureen Delaney of the Abbey Theatre was hired to appear in the film but did not make the trip to Hollywood. RKO wanted to borrow Pat O'Brien for the film but was turned down by Warner Bros. To avoid fire hazards during the battle sequences, Polglase's post office set, which was built entirely on an asbestos-lined sound stage, was mounted over a huge tank of water.
       Modern sources give the following additional information about the production: As a ... More Less

Sean O'Casey's name appears above the film's title. Barry Fitzgerald, Denis O'Dea, Eileen Crowe, F. J. McCormick and Arthur Shields, Fitzgerald's brother, (who is credited on the film as having "assisted" Ford in his direction), were Abbey Theatre players who had acted in O'Casey's long-running play in Dublin. All of the above cast members except Fitzgerald made their talking-picture debuts in this film. ( The Plough and the Stars was Fitzgerald's first American film.) Una O'Connor and J. M. Kerrigan were former Abbey Theatre members. Eileen Crowe and F. J. McCormick were married at the time of this production. Studio publicity touted the film, which was the last film John Ford directed for RKO, as a natural successor to the successful 1935 film, The Informer (see above). Ford, Dudley Nichols, George Bernard McNulty, Joseph August and Cliff Reid also worked together on The Informer . According to HR , RKO wanted to borrow Spencer Tracy to play the Jack Clitheroe part, but M-G-M refused to loan the actor because they felt the part was not strong enough. Articles in NYT give the following information about the production: Maureen Delaney of the Abbey Theatre was hired to appear in the film but did not make the trip to Hollywood. RKO wanted to borrow Pat O'Brien for the film but was turned down by Warner Bros. To avoid fire hazards during the battle sequences, Polglase's post office set, which was built entirely on an asbestos-lined sound stage, was mounted over a huge tank of water.
       Modern sources give the following additional information about the production: As a trade-off for hiring the Abbey Theatre actors, the studio insisted that Barbara Stanwyck be cast in the lead. While Ford, who had fought with the studio to cast the Abbey Theatre actors, was on a post-production vacation, executive producer Samuel Briskin hired director George Nicholls, Jr. to reshoot certain scenes in the movie. The new scenes changed the relationship of the leads from husband and wife to boyfriend and girl friend. Although none of the trade reviewers mention this change and probably saw only the previously shot version, prints with this alteration were circulated in the United States. When Ford heard about the changes, he tried unsuccessfully to have his name removed from the credits. According to an interview with Ford, English and Irish distributors refused to show the altered version and only screened the original. The financial failure of the modestly budgeted film caused RKO to reassess its commitment to producing "prestige" films. Documentary footage of the actual Easter Rebellion was intercut into the film. Modern sources credit Nathaniel Shilkret as the music director and Walter Plunkett as costume designer. Additional cast members from modern sources include Mary Quinn and Frank Baker. Modern sources conflict in completing character names. In O'Casey's play, however, the Irish leaders are called Padraic Pearse and General Connolly. More Less

BIBLIOGRAPHIC SOURCES
SOURCE
DATE
PAGE
Daily Variety
22 Dec 36
p. 3.
Film Daily
26 Dec 36
p. 4.
Hollywood Reporter
3 Jul 36
p. 4.
Hollywood Reporter
8 Jul 36
p. 2.
Hollywood Reporter
22 Dec 36
p. 3.
Motion Picture Daily
23 Dec 36
p. 8.
Motion Picture Herald
22 Aug 36
pp. 16-17.
Motion Picture Herald
2 Jan 37
p. 65.
Motion Picture Herald
16 Jan 37
pp. 24-26.
New York Times
5 Jul 1936.
---
New York Times
16 Aug 1936.
---
New York Times
18 Oct 1936.
---
New York Times
29 Jan 37
p. 15.
Variety
3 Feb 37
p. 14.
CAST
PRODUCTION CREDITS
NAME
PARENT COMPANY
PRODUCTION COMPANY
DISTRIBUTION COMPANY
NAME
CREDITED AS
CREDIT
DIRECTORS
Dir
Assisted by
Dir of retakes
Asst dir and dir of retakes
PRODUCERS
Exec prod
Assoc prod
Assoc prod
WRITER
PHOTOGRAPHY
Photog
ART DIRECTORS
Art dir assoc
FILM EDITOR
SET DECORATOR
Set dresser
MUSIC
Mus score
SOUND
Rec on retakes
PRODUCTION MISC
SOURCES
LITERARY
Based on the play The Plough and the Stars by Sean O'Casey (Dublin, 8 Feb 1926).
AUTHOR
DETAILS
Alternate Title:
Sean O'Casey's Plough and the Stars
Release Date:
15 January 1937
Production Date:
8 July--20 August 1936
retakes October 1936
Copyright Claimant:
RKO Radio Pictures, inc.
Copyright Date:
15 January 1937
Copyright Number:
LP6944
Physical Properties:
Sound
RCA Victor System
Black and White
Duration(in mins):
65 or 67
Length(in reels):
8
Country:
United States
PCA No:
2428
SYNOPSIS

In the spring of 1916, a fever of rebellion against British rule spreads through the streets of Dublin. Fearful that her husband Jack will die fighting in the Irish cause, as her father did years before, Nora Clitheroe keeps secret from him the news that he has been made a commandant in the new Citizens' Army of Ireland. When Jack receives a message ordering him to report as a commandant to General Connolly, however, he chastises Nora for her selfishness and joins the army's torchlight procession and rally. During the rally, Nora commiserates with Mollser Gogan, the poor tubercular daughter of her upstairs neighbor, and explains with anguish that women are doomed to love, and men to fight. After the procession, Jack and the Irish army leaders meet to formalize their commitment and sign a declaration of Irish sovereignty. Later, while Nora and he enjoy a park outing, Jack is called away to another meeting, at which General Connolly announces plans to take control of a British-controlled post office. As a desperate battle between the poorly armed revolutionaries and the British army rages at the post office, hundreds of Dubliners begin looting stores and fighting among themselves. After Jack volunteers to run messages to the other commandants, he meets a frantic Nora on the battle-torn streets but refuses to return home with her. Before the fight is finished, Mollser dies and Nora is weakened with worry. The rebels, defeated at the post office, then take to the rooftops, where they hide and snipe at British soldiers. Hotly pursued, Jack scrambles over the rooftops and into the Gogan's flat. By hiding his ... +


In the spring of 1916, a fever of rebellion against British rule spreads through the streets of Dublin. Fearful that her husband Jack will die fighting in the Irish cause, as her father did years before, Nora Clitheroe keeps secret from him the news that he has been made a commandant in the new Citizens' Army of Ireland. When Jack receives a message ordering him to report as a commandant to General Connolly, however, he chastises Nora for her selfishness and joins the army's torchlight procession and rally. During the rally, Nora commiserates with Mollser Gogan, the poor tubercular daughter of her upstairs neighbor, and explains with anguish that women are doomed to love, and men to fight. After the procession, Jack and the Irish army leaders meet to formalize their commitment and sign a declaration of Irish sovereignty. Later, while Nora and he enjoy a park outing, Jack is called away to another meeting, at which General Connolly announces plans to take control of a British-controlled post office. As a desperate battle between the poorly armed revolutionaries and the British army rages at the post office, hundreds of Dubliners begin looting stores and fighting among themselves. After Jack volunteers to run messages to the other commandants, he meets a frantic Nora on the battle-torn streets but refuses to return home with her. Before the fight is finished, Mollser dies and Nora is weakened with worry. The rebels, defeated at the post office, then take to the rooftops, where they hide and snipe at British soldiers. Hotly pursued, Jack scrambles over the rooftops and into the Gogan's flat. By hiding his rifle in Mollser's coffin, Jack avoids arrest and is reunited with Nora. As the British throw down the Irish "Plough and the Stars" flag from the post office roof, however, Jack vows to Nora that the fight for freedom will continue. +

Legend
Viewed by AFI
Partially Viewed
Offscreen Credit
Name Occurs Before Title
AFI Life Achievement Award

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The American Film Institute is grateful to Sir Paul Getty KBE and the Sir Paul Getty KBE Estate for their dedication to the art of the moving image and their support for the AFI Catalog of Feature Films and without whose support AFI would not have been able to achieve this historical landmark in this epic scholarly endeavor.