This little-seen John Ford film was a personal project for the director (made "just for fun," according to Ford [Peter Bogdanovich, John Ford]), and another in his series of movies steeped in Irish mores and culture. THE RISING OF THE MOON is an anthology film, comprising three parts and
an introduction by Tyrone Power. The first part, "The Majesty of the Law," begins when a policeman, Cusack, tries to serve a warrant on Purcell, an old-world Irishman who struck a neighbor who sold him inferior moonshine. Fully aware that Purcell is a proud man who disdains the "new" Ireland,
Cusack walks to the old man's cabin rather than driving a car there. Purcell welcomes the officer into his home, and the men chat a while before Cusack hesitantly brings up the matter of the assault. Purcell can go free if he pays a fine, but he refuses to do so. The old man laments that the Irish
have lost the wonderful "secrets" of the past--the moonshiner no longer knows the secrets of making good Irish whiskey, for example; worse, children no longer know the beloved traditional songs because "the films, and the radio, and that other new thing along with it" have destroyed their
heritage. To prove he's going to go to jail on principle, the arthritic Purcell kneels painfully before the hearth and pulls out a stone, revealing his hidden savings which amount to more than enough money to pay the fine. Cusack understands Purcell's stance and leads him off to jail. Suddenly the
man Purcell assaulted comes running up, money in hand, and offers to pay the fine for him. Purcell refuses the offer. Before leaving his property, Purcell bends down and picks up a stone, kisses it, and puts it in his pocket as a memento of his home during his stay in prison. As Cusack takes the
man out of town all the neighbors come out and pay tribute to Purcell.
The second episode, "A Minute's Wait," is a broadly comic scene in which a passenger train stops at a depot for "just a minute" to wait for some fresh lobsters to be delivered for the Bishop's jubilee dinner. Of course, the minute's wait turns into a two-hour stay when a variety of complications
cause further delay, including the engineer's determination to finish telling a barmaid a ghost story and other interruptions. Among the Irish passengers are a British couple on holiday who are kicked out of their first-class berth to make room for a prize goat being delivered to a new owner.
The last episode, "1921," shows the players of the Abbey Theatre attempting to stage a rescue of imprisoned Irish patriot Donnelly before he is to be executed. Two actresses dress as nuns and visit Donnelly in his cell, then, when the guards aren't looking, Donnelly slips into a nun's habit (while
one of the women dresses in his clothes) and makes off. Later, O'Dea, an Irish police sergeant who resents the British Black and Tans, has a vague idea that Donnelly--now dressed as a folk singer--is the escaped man. O'Dea's wife works desperately on her husband's patriotism, however, and
eventually persuades him to let Donnelly escape.
While THE RISING OF THE MOON offers some touching and amusing moments, it is minor Ford. Because of the restricted length of each segment, the characters and situations seem sketchy and the emotions relatively superficial. Ford's feelings about the Irish and Ireland were passionate, but this film
seems more melancholy musing than a fully developed tribute. To promote filmmaking in Ireland, Ford formed a production company with Lord Michael Killanin, Michael Scott, Brian Desmond Hurst, Roger Greene, and Tyrone Power. The men had great hopes for the company, called Four Provinces, but most
of their dreams went unrealized. THE RISING OF THE MOON failed at the box office, probably due to its lack of American stars, and only grossed a little over $100,000 worldwide. (It had cost over $500,000 to make and distribute.) Ford, who had recently worked with Power in 1955's THE LONG GRAY
LINE, initially hoped to star Power in the longest of the episodes, and also to cast two of his favorite players, Maureen O'Hara and Barry Fitzgerald. Other commitments prevented these marquee names from being in the picture, but Power was recruited as narrator in post-production filming that was
not supervised by the director. The film is interesting for its thinly veiled references to previous Ford films, including THE QUIET MAN (1952) and THE INFORMER (1935).
Cast & Details See all »
- Rating: NR
- Review: This little-seen John Ford film was a personal project for the director (made "just for fun," according to Ford [Peter Bogdanovich, John Ford]), and another in his series of movies steeped in Irish mores and culture. THE RISING OF THE MOON is an anthology… (more)