The Plough And The Stars

  • 1936
  • Movie
  • NR
  • Historical

This turbulent tale of the 1916 Easter Rebellion in Ireland was not one of Ford's better efforts, the unwieldy story and RKO's interfering helping to make the film a classic gone wrong. Yet it remains a stirring if disjointed portrait of the Irish fight for freedom. Stanwyck runs a Dublin boardinghouse and persuades her patriotic husband, Foster, to drop...read more

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This turbulent tale of the 1916 Easter Rebellion in Ireland was not one of Ford's better efforts, the unwieldy story and RKO's interfering helping to make the film a classic gone wrong. Yet it remains a stirring if disjointed portrait of the Irish fight for freedom. Stanwyck runs a Dublin

boardinghouse and persuades her patriotic husband, Foster, to drop his ties with the Irish Citizen Army (the film's stand-in for the Irish Republican Army). However, when he hears that the group has named him a commander, Foster rallies to the ranks, and though Stanwyck tries to protect Foster

from his own fiery politics, she is unsuccessful in having her husband put aside his gun. Foster goes on to command the takeover of the post office during the Dublin uprising, which leads to a brief triumph and a bitter failure at the film's end. Stanwyck is excellent as a woman who wishes only to

live in peace and hold on to the man she loves. Foster is convincing as the heroic underground leader, a role he had played earlier in Ford's masterpiece THE INFORMER (1936). The O'Casey play suffered in the film version, since RKO demanded that the romance angle take precedence over the

historical material dealing with the Irish Rebellion, something that Ford and his erstwhile scenarist, Nichols, vainly fought against. The battle scenes in the streets are chillingly realistic and this is where Ford shines. Excellent in support are the Abbey Players, including Fitzgerald, O'Dea,

Crowe, McCormick, and Shields. (The last was Barry Fitzgerald's brother who changed his name so as not to rely on his brother's sterling reputation; Shields also served as an unofficial assistant director to Ford in keeping the Abbey Players in line.) After Ford completed this film, RKO ordered

George Nicholls Jr., to reshoot certain scenes to heighten the romance aspect of the film, and when Ford heard about this he exploded, demanding that his name be removed from the credits. His contract with RKO stipulated that he would have to stand still for such tampering, however, and Ford

consequently vowed never again to deal with RKO, though years later he would distribute his great US Cavalry trilogy (FORT APACHE; SHE WORE A YELLOW RIBBON; and RIO GRANDE) through this studio under his own production banner of Argosy Pictures. O'Casey's title stems from the flag the IRA flew

during the Easter Rebellion, one bearing a plough surrounded by stars.

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  • Rating: NR
  • Review: This turbulent tale of the 1916 Easter Rebellion in Ireland was not one of Ford's better efforts, the unwieldy story and RKO's interfering helping to make the film a classic gone wrong. Yet it remains a stirring if disjointed portrait of the Irish fight fo… (more)

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