By: Adrian Frazier
‘I have to say the book is an unalloyed pleasure to hold and to glance through – a sensual delight. It is an absolute credit to everyone involved. Paper, typeface, photos – the whole production is a glowing tribute to the art of the book itself and a wonderful reminder of why we ever fell in love with books in the first place. ‘ – Mike McCormac
In the course of a 1935 USA Abbey Theatre tour of the plays of Sean O’Casey and others, an extensive collaboration was launched between director John Ford (‘My real name is Sean Martin Aloysius O’Feeney’), fresh from shooting O’Flaherty’s The Informer, and star players such as Sara Allgood, Barry Fitzgerald and his brother Arthur Shields.
Tempted by movie contracts, these great stage actors resettled in Hollywood and became members of what was informally called Ford’s ‘stock company’, appearing again and again in his key films such as The Long Way Home (1940), How Green Was My Valley (1941), She Wore a Yellow Ribbon (1949) and The Quiet Man (1952).
Based on a hitherto-unknown cache of Shields family papers and memorabilia, Frazier traces the remarkable life stories of these actors in their migration from Dublin to California. He shows how signifying elements of the Irish Revival mutated from world theatre to global cinema, giving fresh readings to some of the great films of the era.
Richly illustrated, and driven by a sparkling narrative style, Hollywood Irish brings depth and perspective to Ireland’s part in the fashioning of American identity.
ADRIAN FRAZIER, Professor of English at the National University of Ireland, Galway, is author of Behind the Scenes: Yeats, Horniman, and the Struggle for the Abbey Theatre (1990). His acclaimed biography George Moore, 1852-1933 was published in 2000.