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Ryan's Daughter Reviews

The best thing about this much-vaunted, overlong Irish epic love triangle is its gorgeous photography by Young. The rest is an expensive potboiler (costing more than $12 million) in which Mitchum saunters through his role as a schoolteacher, cuckolded by trampy wife Miles. The marriage between Miles, the daughter of saloon-keeper McKern, and Mitchum is passionless, the result of Mitchum's lack of interest in sex. Troubled by this absence of lovemaking, Miles consults the parish priest, Howard, who tells her that she should be thankful she's married to such a saint of a man. Then shell-shocked British officer Jones arrives, assigned to suppress associations between the IRA and German spies (it's 1916 and WWI is raging). Miles and Jones are much taken with each other and make wild love in empty buildings and open meadows. Halfwit Mills finds a button ripped off Jones' uniform during one of the love scenes between Miles and Jones and parades around the village square with it, offering it up as evidence against the sinful Miles. Mitchum does not respond to the resulting gossip, preferring to let the romance dissipate. IRA leader Foster then arrives with a boatload of guns sent by the Germans, but, believing the British will make fierce reprisals against the town, Mitchum informs on the gun-runners and the British swoop in. Believing that it was Miles who told her British lover about the weapons, the townspeople swarm into Mitchum's house, strip Miles, and shave her head. Knowing now that he has lost Miles, Jones blows himself up with a hand grenade. Miles and Mitchum pack their things and head for a new life in Dublin. Directed by fine craftsman Lean, RYAN'S DAUGHTER is self-indulgent and dull, a long-winded period piece that is so introspective that its love scenes, presented in a frenetic style, appear out of place. Miles is only vaguely interesting, Jones boring, and Mitchum so detached that he appears to be thinking about anything but this film. Only Mills, essaying the village idiot, provides a spark to an otherwise aimless and lifeless film. The whole thing is a great disappointment from a great director. Lean and Bolt--actress Miles' husband, and the director's frequent collaborator--spent five years making the picture, which was photographed on location on the Dingle Peninsula, Ireland's rainiest area. Cast and crew spent a full year there, once shooting only a minute of screen time in a 10-day period because of the awful weather.