Category Archives: Film History

Every Irish Star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame

In a late follow up to my Every Irish Winner At The Academy Awards – The Oscars! post I have compiled this list.

You will notice that many of the below stars were inducted on the same date; this is because the Walk of Fame was only brought to life in the years preceding 1960. The actors are listed alphabetically.

George Brent


March 1899 (Offaly) – May 1979 (California)

Inducted to the Walk of Fame on February 8, 1960

The favourite leading man of star actress Bette Davis, was born George Brendan Nolan, near Dublin, and became an orphan at the tender age of eleven. For a while, he stayed with an aunt in New York, but returned to Ireland to study at the University of Dublin. After leaving university in 1919 he had developed an interest in acting and joined the Abbey Theatre Players. Then he returned to New York and acted on the stage until 1930 when he began his career in Hollywood.

At first he had walk on parts until his talent as a leading man was spotted and he went on to specialise playing dapper, sophisticated gentlemen, Brent gave reliable support to stars like Greta Garbo, Hedy Lamarr, Barbara Stanwyck and eleven times with Bette Davis

Best known for Dark Victory (1939), Jezebel (1938), 42nd Street (1933), and The Spiral Staircase (1945).


Brent became a courier for Sinn Fein leader Michael Collins, hunted by the Black and Tan, with a price on his head.

Pierce Brosnan


May 1953 (Meath)

Inducted to the Walk of Fame on December 3, 1997

Pierce Brosnan was born in Navan, County Meath, Ireland, he moved to England, UK, at an early age (thus explaining his ability to play men from both backgrounds convincingly). His father left the household when Pierce was a child and although reunited later in life, the two have never had a close relationship.

Best known for the role is that of British secret agent James Bond. He played the character in four outings.


Is a fan of Doctor Who since 1963.

Brian Donlevy


February 1901 (Armagh) – April 1972 (California)

Inducted to the Walk of Fame on February 8, 1960

Donlevy lied about his age (he was actually 14) in 1916 so he could join the army, it looked like he was going to be a military man as he survived forays into Mexico and spent time as a pilot which gained him honourary membership with the Lafayette Escadrille, a unit of the French Air Force comprised of American and Canadian pilots but gave it all up to act on the stage which led him to Hollywood.

Best known for his roles in Dangerous Assignment (1952), Kiss of Death (1947), Wake Island (1942), and The Quatermass Xperiment (1955).


He was William Holden’s best man at his 1941 wedding to Brenda Marshall.

Barry Fitzgerald

Barry Fitzgerald

March 1888 (Dublin) – January 1961 (Dublin)

Inducted to the Walk of Fame on February 8, 1960

One of Hollywood’s finest character actors and most accomplished scene stealers, Barry Fitzgerald was born William Joseph Shields. Educated to enter the banking business, the diminutive Irishman with the irresistible brogue was bitten by the acting bug in the 1920s and joined Dublin’s world-famous Abbey Players. It was his performance in Juno and the Paycock that caught the eye of Alfred Hitckcock who was planning a film of the play that brought Fitzgerald to Hollywood.

Best known for his roles in The Quiet Man (1952), Bringing Up Baby (1938), The Naked City (1948), and And Then There Were None (1945).


He broke the head off his ‘Best Supporting Actor’ Oscar for Going My Way (1944) practicing his golf swing.

Geraldine Fitzgerald


November 1913 (Wicklow) – July 2005 (New York)

Inducted to the Walk of Fame on February 8, 1960

She made her theatrical debut at Dublin’s renowned Gate Theatre in 1932. She appeared in English films from 1934 to 1937 before emigrating to New York City, where she acted with Orson Welles (who had appeared at the Gate when he was all of 16 years old as a protégé of Micheál MacLiammóir). In 1938 she made her Broadway debut with Welles’ Mercury Theater in their production of George Bernard Shaw’s Heartbreak House, soon after she was signed by a Warner Bros. talent scout and decamped to Hollywood.

Best known for Arthur (1981), The Pawnbroker (1964), Dark Victory (1939), and Wuthering Heights (1939).


She was the only actress to appear as both Laurence Olivier’s wife and Rodney Dangerfield’s mother-in-law.

Creighton Hale


May 1889 (Cork) – August 1965 (California)

Inducted to the Walk of Fame on February 8, 1960

Born Patrick Creighton Hale Fitzgerald in Cork, Ireland, Creighton came to America with a troupe of actors in the early years of the 20th century, and quickly established himself as a leading man on Broadway. In 1914, he made his first trip out west, where he became a featured player in The Exploits of Elaine, a weekly serial that turned out to be one of the biggest hits of the year. He settled on Hollywood and became a star of the silent screen.

Best known for his roles in The Cat and the Canary (1927), Orphans of the Storm (1921), The Marriage Circle (1924), and Snow White (1916).


His starring roles decreased as sound was introduced to film and from the late 1920s onward he mainly appeared in walk on parts.

Rex Ingram


January 1892 (Dublin) – July 1950 (California)

Inducted to the Walk of Fame on February 8, 1960

Ingram was born Reginald Ingram Montgomery Hitchcock. Despite his athleticism, Rex was a loner and a rebel once challenging a master “to lay down his master’s robes and come out behind the ‘gym’ and see who is the better man.” Rex’s mother Kathleen Ingram died when he was fifteen. Either as a consequence of failing to gain a place at Trinity College Dublin or maybe because of his intrinsic restlessness, and the lack of opportunity in a small country, Rex left Ireland in 1911, never to return. In New York he met Charles Edison (son of Thomas Edison) and began working for the Edison Company. Smitten by early cinema he started to work in from of and behind the camera and soon showed his talent for directing. At the height of his fame his name was mentioned in the same breath as early greats such as D.W. Griffith, and Erich von Stroheim.

Best known for directing The Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse (1921)


Rex quarreled with Louis B. Mayer soon after he joined MGM. Subsequently he just put “Metro-Goldwyn presents …” on his pictures with no mention of Mayer.

J.M. Kerrigan


December 1884 (Dublin) – April 1964 (California)

Inducted to the Walk of Fame on February 8, 1960

Kerrigan was born in Dublin, Ireland. He worked as a newspaper reporter until 1907 when he joined the famous Abbey Players. There he became a stalwart, appearing in plays by Lady Gregory, William Butler Yeats and John Millington Synge. His first screen appearance was in the silent film Food of Love in 1916. Before moving to Hollywood he was appearing on Broadway, often in plays by Shakespeare, Ibsen, and Sheridan during the 1920s.

Best known for his roles in Gone with the Wind (1939), 20000 Leagues Under the Sea (1954), The Wolf Man (1941), and The Informer (1935)


Supported Dublin football club Bohemian FC.

Matt Moore


January 1888 (Meath) – January 1960 (California)

Inducted to the Walk of Fame on February 8, 1960

Matt, his brothers, Tom, Owen, Joe and his sister Mary Moore emigrated to the United States. They all went on to successful movie careers. Once his brothers made a name for themselves, Moore made his debut in the role as the minister in the silent short Tangled Relations (1912) starring Florence Lawrence and Owen Moore.

Best known for his roles in Seven Brides for Seven Brothers (1954), Coquette (1929), The Unholy Three (1925), and The Front Page (1931)


He appeared in over 200 films from 1912 to 1958

Owen Moore


December 1886 (Meath) – June 1939 (California)

Inducted to the Walk of Fame on February 8, 1960

A virile and dashing silent screen idol Owen Moore, equipped with incredibly handsome reddish and ruddy features, came to America with his family from Ireland at age 11. After some stage work, he entered films at the Biograph Studio in 1908 and appeared in many of D.W. Griffith’s early productions. Owen was Mary Pickford’s stylish leading man in her early career-starters.

Best known for his roles in A Star Is Born (1937), She Done Him Wrong (1933), The Red Mill (1927), and Cinderella (1914).


Moore was secretly married to Mary Pickford before she left him for Douglass Fairbanks Jnr.

Tom Moore


May 1883 (Meath) – February 1955 (California)

Inducted to the Walk of Fame on February 8, 1960

Brother of Owen and Matt, his success in Hollywood was as both actor and director starting with a job with Kalem Film Manufacturing Company in 1913. He was married to Elinor Merry, Renée Adorée and Alice Joyce (but not all at once).

Best known for his roles in Manhandled (1924), The Woman Racket (1930) and Side Street (1929)


He was the Oldest of The Moore Sibling acting dynasty.

Maureen O’Hara


August 1920 (Dublin)

Inducted to the Walk of Fame on February 8, 1960

Maureen O’Hara was born as Maureen FitzSimons. When she was a young teenager, she joined Dublin’s prestigious Abbey Theatre School. She graduated in 1937 and was offered a lead role with the Abbey Players, but instead moved to London and tried her hand at film acting. She screen tested for an un-produced English feature and caught the attention of Oscar-winning movie star and producer Charles Laughton. After convincing Maureen to change her surname to O’Hara, Laughton helped launch her career by recommending her for the role of the orphaned Mary Yelland in Alfred Hitchcock’s British-made film Jamaica Inn (1939). Although the film met with lackluster reviews, O’Hara was noted for her convincing performance. By 1939 Laughton had her signed a with RKO Studios which began her massively successful Hollywood career

Best known for her roles in for Miracle on 34th Street (1947), The Quiet Man (1952), How Green Was My Valley (1941), and The Parent Trap (1961).


She is quoted as saying “I made John Wayne sexy. I take credit for that.”

Maureen O’Sullivan


May 1911 (Roscommon) – June 1998 (Arizona)

Inducted to the Walk of Fame on February 27, 1991

At the age of nine she intended to become a pilot. After more school in Paris, back in Dublin, she met director Frank Borzage who was doing location filming for Fox and who invited her to Hollywood where she arrived, accompanied by her mother, in 1930.

Best known for her roles in Hannah and Her Sisters (1986), The Thin Man (1934), Tarzan and His Mate (1934), and Tarzan the Ape Man (1932).


O’Sullivan was Mia Farrow’s Mother and was in school with Vivien Leigh in London.

In June 2013 the list with next year’s stars to be honoured was announced, Liam Neeson was among the names!

Photos and References

Hollywood Walk of Fame


Silent Era

Trinity College Dublin

More Than You Needed to Know

Preserving Ireland on Film – The Irish Film Institute’s Archive Tour on Culture Night

Due to two of my friend’s birthday celebrations coinciding on Culture Night in Dublin I was only able to make one event and appropriately it was Film related.

The tour of the usually-not-open-to-the-public Archives of the Irish Film Institute begins in the foyer where we are met by the head of the Archive Kassandra O’Connell who leads us to the Tiernan McBride reference Library in the Archive while being in the Irish Film Institute complex it is a separate building.


We are given a talk about the history of the Archive and how it was aligned with the Catholic Church in the 1940s, who saw the potential of film as a means of communication, the first organisation in the country to have the required facilities. She explains about the move away from the church in the 1970s.

Kassandra tells us about the Horgan Brothers in Cork from 1910s whose interest in the young industry was not matched by the contents of their wallets. So they built this and this camera


this projector and opened their own cinema in 1917. They went around the country making recordings and even the first Irish animated feet of reel.

The reference library contains the documentation, articles and production notes for the Irish related Films they have already collected (e.g. Neil Jordan provides them with the production notes of the films he makes).


We are then led down stairs to meet two of the Archive’s Collections Officers, Columb Gilna McManus and Anja Mahler, who show us the pain-staking work they do: their enthusiasm is infectious.


Film donated to the Archive can be anything from features, documentaries to home movies; some in need of repair before being viewed frame by frame. They explain that the great value of private collections; any documentation of Ireland on film provides a new insight into our countries history and sometimes they uncover new angles on a historical events. The receive reels of film in all sorts of conditions.


The Archive’s storage rooms (six in all) are especially air conditioned and packed with reels of their collection.


This Archive is a must for any film or film preservation enthusiasts and an important resource for students of Irish film.


If you have any old reels or footage at home please get in touch with them and assist in filling the archive gap between 1897 and the 1940s when there was no film archiving taking place in Ireland.

Get in touch and find out more about the Archive here.

The Mysterious Life and Death of William Desmond Taylor

William Desmond Taylor arrived in Hollywood in 1911 or 12 with only a few dollars in his pocket. He appeared to be in his thirties, was handsome, charming, and generous of spirit. These traits combined with being a natural on the saddle of a horse bagged him his first few parts as an extra. He made fast friends in the budding silent movie industry and began to pick up larger roles. He did admit that he had some previous acting experience in New York but talked very little about the rest of his background. 

After 4 years of acting Taylor was getting older and itching to try his hand on the other side of the camera. He got his chance at the Balboa Studios on Long Beach. The studios had been the launch pad for many stars in the previous decade such as Charlie Chaplin and Roscoe ‘Fatty’ Arbuckle. He began by making a handful of shorts, on one, The Awakening, Taylor met, fell in love and became engaged to with his leading lady Neva Gerber. She was separated from her older husband who refused to give her a divorce. Their next film, within the same year, was Taylor’s first feature, The Judge’s Wife. The story was about a man’s sacrifice to save a lady’s reputation. Taylor told people during the production that he had spent three years in prison to protect the honour of a woman he had loved. It turns out that there was no actual evidence to back this up. Perhaps Taylor’s skills with fantasy were beginning to bleed into his own reality.

Taylor consistently made movies until 1919 and worked with the likes of Mary Pickford, Wallace Beery, Wallace Reid, Dustin Farnum and other major stars of the era. He grew very close to a lesser known actress called Mary Miles Minter who, (records become a little hazy here) he either became romantically involved with or she was infatuated with him. Sources close to him at the time could not see him falling for her as they met when she was still in her teens and he was in his early 40s. Through her he was acquainted with Miles’ overbearing mother Charlotte Shelby.

As with all directors Taylor made a few flops but some of his biggest successes were with classic book adaptations like Tom Sawyer, Huckleberry Finn and Anne of Green Gables. Not only had he a string of successful movies, a fashionable address at Alvarado Court Apartments he had a nice car and a valet named Edward Sands.

All was going well and in 1918 Taylor felt the pull of the army as the First Word War still battled in Europe. He enlisted but by the time he was ready the war had ended. He did some administration work and was honourably discharged in 1919. He traveled back to Hollywood. His engagement to Neva Gerber ended amicably and he was connected to the troubled star Mabel Normand.

Normand had been a rising multi-talented writer/director and star, engaged to Mack Sennet (creator of the Keystone Cops in which she appeared regularly) but Sennet cheated on her and a bad movie deal left her low on funds, she then moved to the Goldwyn Motion Picture Company where there were rumours that she had an affair with Sam Goldwyn. Somewhere along the way she became hooked on cocaine which badly affected her career. She then met Taylor and there were rumours that he may have taken drugs with her but he never showed any signs of addiction. Either way Taylor tried to help her quit. The details surrounding their relationship differs from witness to witness, some claim they were in love while others say they were friends. Returning back from a holiday in 1921 Taylor found that his valet, Sands, had swindled him by forging cheques, crashing and ditching his car before disappearing. Taylor took it well, hired another valet Henry Peavey, and continued making movies.

Mabel visited Taylor on the evening of February 1 1922 to borrow a book and left at 7.45pm. A few minutes later his neighbour, Faith McLean, heard a loud noise, looked out the window and saw a man walk out of Taylor’s apartment, he too looked around and went back inside. A few minutes later she noticed him stroll away and presumed that the noise she must have heard was the backfire of a car. It wasn’t until the next morning that Taylor’s Valet No. 2 Peavey arrived to find his boss dead on the floor of the apartment. This is when things began to get very strange.


The police were called and a Doctor arrived examined him and concluded that the cause of death was natural. The Doctor then left and very soon after the police turned him over revealing a bullet wound in his back. Taylor had a huge amount of cash on his person at the time and expensive jewelry so a burglary was ruled out. The Doctor never surfaced and the mystery and gossip surrounding Taylor’s death sprouted legs. All the people close to him were suspected and investigated, his two valets, Sands and Peavoy, Minter and her mother Shelby, Faith MClean and Mabel Desmond. While some of the suspects flung accusations at each other they were all were eventually cleared.

Through the investigation there were rumours of papers being stolen from his apartment after his death, drug dealers, old army enemies arriving into town, talk of Taylor being gay or bisexual and even a massive cover up major studio heads. There may have been some foundation for the last rumour as the young movie industry has been hit by two recent scandals. The Rape charges against Roscoe ‘Fatty’ Arbuckle and the death by Morphine addiction of supposedly clean cut Wallace Reid. If there had been any nefarious activity on Taylor’s behalf the Studios would have had every reason to destroy any evidence that linked them to the dead director.

As the investigation began to stumble on a new voice entered the fray, one Ethel Hamilton, Taylor’s wife from New York. They had been married in 1901, she was an actress and he successfully sold antiques. Taylor, she said, while being a lovely person, suffered from bouts of aphasia and one day in 1908 he left her an envelope with $500 and disappeared from her and their daughter’s lives. It was only years later when she saw him in a movie that she pointed to the screen and said to her daughter “That’s your Daddy!”. She bore no ill will to him but Taylor and his daughter kept in touch until the time of his death.

Hamilton revealed that Taylor was Irish, his real name was William Deane-Tanner, born in Co. Carlow in Ireland. The third child of a retired British Army Major, by all accounts he got on badly with his father and ran away to the theatre when he was a young teenager. He was then sent to Runnymeade in Kansas, a sort of juvenile home that promised to turn delinquents into gentlemen farmers. Deane-Tanner (Taylor) stayed long enough to become familiar with horses but soon escaped and found himself in New York where he met and married Ethel Hamilton.

The revelation that Taylor’s brother Denis Dean-Tanner had disappeared from his wife in New York two years after Taylor had done the same made the rumour-mill turn even faster. Through the investigation Mary Miles Minter’s love letters were found in Taylor’s apartment and Mabel Normand cocaine habit exposed crippled both actresses’ careers. Multiple actresses made death bed confessions to killing Taylor. There were rumours hat the police were told to cut the investigation short, To this day his murder was never solved.

Mary Miles Minter

The mystery referred to as Taylorology has spawned many books and was referenced in Billy Wilder’s 1960 movie, “Sunset Boulevard”, which concerns a murder in Hollywood, the main character’s name is Norma Desmond (Mabel Normand & William Desmond Taylor).

Who Killed William Desmond Taylor?


Further  Taylor/Deane-Tanner reading.

Tinseltown: Murder, Morphine, and Madness at the Dawn of Hollywood. by William J. Mann,

Sequels and Star Trek Into Darkness (No Spoilers).


Sequels have been around since at least the 1930’s especially the horror genre such as Frankenstein and Dracula etc. spawning popular after thoughts.    The Thin Man series began in 1934 and was followed by five sequels ending in 1947, the first that springs to mind from the 1950s is The Fly, The  Godfather  and the Star Wars franchises both began in the The Seventies.

In the Eighties we saw a proliferation of horror and comedy sequels stumbling blindly to, and beyond, the trilogy.


But it was Lord of the Rings and Harry Potter kicking off in 2001 (delivering 11 movies between them) which focused the search for in-built-audience franchise trilogy as opposed to the wanderings from genre to genre production companies had done in the past.

Since then we have had Pirates Of The Caribbean,  X-Men, and more recently the marvel world attempting to dominate with each character looking like they will get their own trilogies as well as the collective.


In Star Trek Into Darkness JJ Abrams has made the best kick ass extended episode Star Trek has ever seen and it is a good movie as well.

Most people will not want to hear too much about this so I’ll be brief.

It is visually stunning and I don’t say that lightly. The action set pieces are flawless. The nemesis is relentless; there is politics and subterfuge on a grand scale. Certainly this outing feels like the second part of a trilogy.


Abrams continues to reinvent the fates of familiar friends and enemies of The Enterprise. The film is faithful to the Star Trek Lore and at the same time introduces new elements which will excite fans. While it never rises about good solid entertainment it is certainly worth a visit to your local cinema.


Check your local Irish Cinemas here

Every Irish Winner At The Academy Awards – The Oscars!

(updated 2017)

In the wake of the 2013 Academy Awards  I searched the internet but could not find a definitive list of Irish winners in Oscar History. I opened the Academy Awards site and searched though the history of the awards, Googling every Irish, English, and Scottish sounding winner’s name.

If, by chance, I have missed anyone please leave a comment below!

(This post has been viewed by 3,000+ people and no one has come back to me yet.)

Included are people born in Ireland, Northern Ireland and those who hold dual citizenship with Ireland and another country.



won 11 Best Art/Set Direction Oscars between 1930 and 1956

The Bridge of San Luis Rey (1930)
The Merry Widow (1934)
Pride and Prejudice (1940)
Blossoms in the Dust (1941)
Gaslight (1944)
The Yearling (1946)
Little Women (1949)
The Bad and the Beautiful (1952)
Julius Caesar (1953)
Somebody Up There Likes me (1956)

Born in Dublin, Gibbons moved to study in New York and is credited with the design of the Oscar statuette.


Best (Adapted) Screenplay Pygmalion (1939)

Born in Dublin, Shaw is the only person to receive a Nobel Prize and an Oscar (Pygmalion (1938)).


Best Actor in a Supporting Role Going My Way (1944)

Born in Dublin, Fitzgerald was the only actor ever nominated for the Academy Award for both Best Actor and Best Supporting Actor in the same year for the same role. After he received this double nomination, the Academy immediately changed their rules to prevent this from happening again, rules which have remained unchanged to this day.


has won two  Oscars.

(shared) – Best Makeup Quest for Fire (1981)
(shared) – Best Makeup Dracula (1992)

Born in Kildare, Michèle holds a US, EU and Canadian Passport she is also fluent in English, French, Spanish and some Irish.


(shared) – Best Art Direction Out of Africa (1986)

Born in Ireland, McAvin presented the IFI Irish Film Archive with her Academy Award and Emmy statuettes, along with a collection of books, photographs and sketches that she had collected throughout her distinguished career.


the only actor to have won three awards for Best Actor at the Academy Awards.

Best Actor My Left Foot (1989)
Best Actor There Will Be Blood (2007)
Best Actor Lincoln (2013)

Though he was born in the UK Day-Lewis is also an Irish Citizen and lives here in Co. Wicklow.

Here are a few roles which he turned down:

Aragorn in the Lord of the Rings trilogy (2001-2003), a role in Terminator Salvation (2009), Jor-El in Superman: Man of Steel (2013), lead role in Mary Reilly (1996), a role in Cutthroat Island (1995), the lead role in The English Patient (1996), Simon Templar in The Saint (1997).

The late and great Sir John Gielgud had this to say about Day-Lewis,
“He had what every actor in Hollywood wants: talent. And what every actor in England wants: looks”.


Best Actress in a Supporting Role Actress My Left Foot (1989)

Born in Dublin Fricker was once heard to say
“When you are lying drunk at the airport you’re Irish. When you win an Oscar you’re British.”


Best Original Screenplay  The Crying Game (1993)

Born in Sligo, Jordan is quoted as saying,
“I’m fascinated by monsters, monstrous people and fascinated with illogic and irrationality.”


Honorary Academy Award in 2003

Born in Connemara, on accepting the award O’Toole, at 78, vowed to
“…win the lovely bugger outright”.


Best Documentary Short – A Note of Triumph: The Golden Age of Norman Corwin (2006)

Though born in New York, Marrinan holds dual Irish & U.S. citizenship, and as part of her acceptance speech she said,
“I’d like to thank the Academy for seating me next to George Clooney at the nominee’s luncheon.”


Best Short Film (Live Action) Six Shooter (2006)

Born in the U.K., McDonagh holds both Irish and U.K. passports. Since moving into film, McDonagh has frequently used actors that have also appeared in the original theatre runs of his plays.


(Shared) Best Song Once (2008)

Born in Dublin, Hansard was the first Irishman to win an Oscar for Best Song. He was offered a shot at the part of Rorschach in Watchmen (2009) but had to bow out due to the fanfare surrounding his Oscar nomination (and ultimate win) for song “Falling Slowly” from Once (2006).


(as part of a team) – Best Visual Effects – Avatar (2010)

Born in Ireland Baneham worked as an animator or animation supervisor for the following films, The Iron Giant, Cats & Dogs, The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe, and oversaw the animation of the character of Gollum) on The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers and The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King.


Father and Daughter

Best Short Film (Live Action) The Shore (2012)

Born in Belfast, Terry George is quoted as saying,
“Film today is more and more concentrated on the amusement park element. If a writer can attach an actor or a producer who has some clout, then you can arm yourself. Otherwise, a script simply becomes a road map to attract money and talent.”

Maureen O’Hara


Honourary Achievement Award 2015

Born in Ranelagh, Dublin as Maureen FitzSimons she mentioned three men in her acceptance speech who shaped her career, Charles Laughton, John Wayne and John Ford. O’Hara is quotes as saying

“I made John Wayne sexy. I take credit for that.”

Benjamin Cleary


Best Short Film (Live Action) – Stutterer (2016)

Benjamin Cleary is an Irish writer, director and producer from Dublin.

During his acceptance speech Cleary said:

“Every day is a proud day to be Irish, but today even more so… Sláinte!”


You may also enjoy Every Irish Star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame

Compiled from




Check your local Irish Cinema here

New York – Yankee Doodle Dandied

“Ben, why are there footprints on the wall in the living room”

My mother’s words rose to the surface of my memory as I stood standing in the middle of Times Square in New York. I had just taken this picture of the bronze  George M. Cohan (1879-1942) statue.

It is seventy years since the actor and producer died. Famous for writing songs like “Over There” and “Give My Regards to Broadway” and of course “(I’m a)  Yankee Doodle Dandy” (it is also seventy years since James Cagney played him in the highly successful movie/biopic of the same name).

Yankee Doodle Dandy” (directed by Michael Curtiz who, in the same year, also directed Casablanca) was my first introduction to Cagney. He went on to win his first Academy Award for his portrayal of Cohan. The argumentative, sympathetic and heroic role stood out from the litany of gangster characters that had made him so popular. The Academy has a tendency to choose such out-of-character performances to applaud popular actors, i.e. Denzil Washington in Training Day.

I didn’t know Cagney had such a history of movies behind him as I watched this as a teenager in the 1980s.  The story of Cohan unfolded before me; it is a compelling mixture of biography and a history of the first half of the 20 century on Broadway.

It was Cohan’s own invention that song and dance numbers moved the plot forward as opposed to interrupting them as had previously been the preference. In this way the movie is a fitting tribute to Cohan’s legacy.While a handful of biopics have been made about his life, “Yankee Doodle Dandy” remains the superior work.

The production took particular care to recreate his Broadway performances in detail and Cagney managed to mimic Cohan’s half speaking/half singing style as well as capturing his unique dance moves.

Cagney’s real life sister Jeanne Cagney played his on screen sibling and he took up the role of George M. Cohan again 13 years later for “The Seven Little Foys”.

“Yankee Doodle Dandy” was one of the top ten grossing movies in 1942, still it took liberties with Cohan’s life story, for instance, passing over his first marriage.

As Cohan was dying, he viewed Cagney’s performance and is quoted as saying “My God what an act to follow!!”

So why were their footprints on the living room wall?

I apologised to Mum and then to explain rewound the video it to this scene. I suggested that as she had introduced me to the movie she might have to take some responsibility. Really she should have known I would have attempted to recreate the move at the end of this clip.

Yankee Doodle Dandy 1.26 min clip on youtube.

Alien vs Prometheus

I first saw Alien in a friend’s house on, what I later realised to be, an early illegal Beetamax copy. I was twelve and to be honest because the copy was so bad frankly I didn’t really know what was going on. The memory it left me with was an unimaginable monster with acid for blood. Even at twelve this was an exciting concept. When James Cameron took the helm in Aliens, as we know, the character of Ellen Ripley became a household name. She returned in the weakest member of the franchise Alien 3. It was a very messy affair. At one stage it was going to be set on a wooden planet inhabited by monks, an entire script was written until one of the producers asked “A wooden Planet?? Really?” Though it still had it’s moments, notably Charles Dances sudden exit and that final scene where Ripley effectively ended the run. Until, that is, when they decided to rebuild her for Alien: Resurrection where we saw the lighter side of the seemingly eternal battle of Ripley Vs. Alien or Xenomorph as it has come to be called.

In summary

But I loved them all even the crappy ones. I own the box set, Alien for the sheer terror and that first chest burst, Aliens for “Get away from her you bitch”, Aliens 3 for we ran out of ideas but we need to make another and Alien Resurrection for the fun.

Alien Universe Themes

Ships that had character, the “Synthetics” or “Artificial People”, becoming heavily armed or climbing into a body enhancer in a terrible hurry, cryogenic sleep, in fighting, very, very long space journeys, opening fire and hidden agendas.


From the Greek Legend about the immortal who first created man from water and clay and then proceeded to steal fire from Zeus and gave it to man, he was brother to Pandora of the box, they were a family of menaces. I digress.

First Half an Hour Plot

I sat with a mixture of excitement and trepidation. Wanting to enjoy it but scared that it would not live up to the butterflies in my stomach. At least I hoped they were butterflies. The opening shot was Ridley Scott “Movie Magic”, nothing like you had ever seen in an Alien movie before. The camera flies over a landscape, mountains, rivers, an eerily still lake and over a gushing waterfall, you can imagine that each still of that opening is a picture in itself.

Then we happen upon the buffest albino the screen has seen since the Da Vinci Code except this albino is certainly not human. He drinks something that is about to disagree with him unpleasantly and we are given a rapid tour through his internal system and shown a crumbling strand of DNA.

Scott has our attention. The story moves rapidly from there to archaeological dig in 2089 where Archaeologist Elizabeth Shaw (Noomi Rapace) confirms she has found a constellation which claims to be the origin of life. So the Space Ship Prometheus with 17 crew aboard is sent to investigate.  All this takes place circa 30 years before the first Alien movie.

Back to the actual review

So the backstory to how it all began had begun. If you know the Aliens movies already you will see how Scott begins the strands that run through first two movies. If you don’t know the Alien foreground what you are watching is a fairly decent science fiction movie which succeeds where others like Sphere and Event Horizon and Mission to Mars failed to deliver.

All of the above elements from the other movies are present and so fans will not be disappointed. But the main themes here are the struggle between Science and Religion as well as an alarming number of the crew who seem to suffer from issues relating to their Fathers.

The Weyland Corporation gets some back history as well. One of the reasons this movie came into existence was the die-hard fans pre occupation with the massive being from the first movie (nick named Space Jockey). They finally get some sort of pay off.

The cast are more than adequate but still could have been better with the exception of Michael Fassbender who plays David, the artificial person, an android that could easily be the brain child of 2001’s HAL or a grown up and soulless version of his namesake David from A.I. Fassbender performance is particular, creepy and somewhat hypnotic. In a nice touch he delivers the most humour as he reflects and defends his position amongst humans. The other performance which caught my eye was Idrid Elba as Janek, Captain of the Prometheus, while the other characters are rushing around being astounded by their discoveries, he takes the piss and gets away with it until called upon to do his duty. Charlize Theron and an almost unrecognisable Guy Pearce also put in decent performances.

But still there were patches where I thought the filmmakers could have tried harder and even though we are talking about a film set in the Alien Universe (as there have already been four other films) on a purely human level there were some suspensions of disbelief that may come across as lazy.

On the other hand maybe they tried too hard to make it a stand-alone movie and still part of the franchise. Maybe they tried too hard to make it philosophical and an action movie.

Even though it may be flawed, it is still worth going to see in the cinema.

On a final note maybe, just maybe I missed Ellen Ripley a little bit too much.