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Darby O'Gill and the Little People (1959) Poster

Trivia

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Jimmy O'Dea and the other actors who played leprechauns were not given any screen credit, nor did Walt Disney allow any other material to be published about them in the marketing for this movie. Disney's intention was to give the illusion he was using real leprechauns for the filming. Disney even went so far as to film The Magical World of Disney (1954) season five, episode six, "I Captured the King of the Leprechauns", in which he and Darby (Albert Sharpe) manage to corner King Brian and convince him to participate in this movie along with his people.
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In Irish legend, the Banshee is often said to be seen combing her hair as she approaches. Although the Chroma Key technique makes it difficult to see, the Banshee that comes to Darby is indeed combing her hair.
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This was the movie that brought Sir Sean Connery to the attention of Albert R. Broccoli, who then went on to cast Connery in his most famous role as James Bond in Dr. No (1962).
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With the death of Kieron Moore (Pony Sugrue) on July 15, 2007, Sir Sean Connery (Michael McBride) is the last surviving cast member.
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The lighting used to make sure the actors were kept in proper perspective without seeming false used up so much electricity it apparently blew out a substation in Burbank when the lights were turned on without warning.
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The leprechaun effects look very high tech and complicated, but most of them were achieved very simply by placing the "normal sized" actors closer to the camera than the "tiny" ones, and lining them up on the same horizontal plane through the lens so the distance between them could not be detected. This technique is known as "forced perspective".
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Walt Disney had seen Albert Sharpe in a stage production of "Finian's Rainbow" in the 1940s, and kept him in mind for the role of Darby. By the time he began casting this movie a decade later, Sharpe had retired. Disney was able to convince him to come out of retirement.
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In the original release, there were numerous asides where the Irish characters would speak in Munster Irish. Darby counts off "aon, dó, trí, ceathair" before playing the Fox Chase; several times King Brian rallies the hunt with a cry of "Ar aghaidh linn! (ahead with us!)" and so on. A later version had most of these lines redubbed in English.
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Albert Sharpe did not know how to play the violin, so two professional musicians were hired to create the illusion. One handled the bowing and the other handled the fingerboard while Sharpe kept his hands out of the way.
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The movie was released one year after the copyrights expired on the stories by Herminie Templeton Kavanagh.
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A version of the song "My Pretty Irish Girl" sung by Sir Sean Connery and Janet Munro was released as a single about the same time as the debut of this movie in 1959. Ironically, Connery said the singing was the one aspect of the role, of which he wasn't too fond.
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The duet "Pretty Irish Girl", apparently sung by Sir Sean Connery and Janet Munro, has been alleged to feature dubbed vocals by Irish singers Brendan O'Dowda and Ruby Murray.
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Walt Disney was initially hoping to cast Barry Fitzgerald in the dual roles of Darby O'Gill and King Brian. Fitzgerald reportedly declined due to his advanced age (although his eventual replacement as Darby, Albert Sharpe, was three years older). Disney regretted the loss of Fitzgerald in the lead role, and blamed the movie's disappointing box-office performance partly on this loss.
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When Michael (Sir Sean Connery) doesn't kiss Katie (Janet Munro), King Brian (Jimmy O'Dea) exclaims "And him a Dublin man!" O'Dea was born and raised in Dublin.
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Walt Disney visited Ireland in December of 1948 and publicly announced the production of this movie, then titled simply, "The Little People". It would be another decade before this movie was actually made.
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Pony's last name, Sugrue, is phonetically similar to the Gaeilge word "súgradh", which means "play". Presumably, Pony's name is a pun on the word "horseplay".
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Walt Disney started planning for this movie in the 1940s. After World War II, Disney sent several artists to Ireland for background material.
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When Darby is lured to the well on the mountaintop, it is not his horse that he was chasing, but a pooka - a mythological beast that can appear in the form of various animals. When Darby learns that Katie is chasing a horse, he recognizes that this is the same pooka. Pookas can either be a danger or a friend. The best known of all friendly pookas was a six-foot-tall rabbit by the name of Harvey (1950).
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Unfortunately, all eight color stills in the British National Screen Service Front-of-House set for this movie were printed in reverse, as in a mirror image. Obviously, whoever handled the negatives for the stills couldn't tell their gloss sides from their emulsion sides.
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This movie was released on a bill with the Donald Duck cartoon Donald in Mathmagic Land (1959).
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One of the few movies that Sir Sean Connery did not use his natural Scottish accent, speaking here with a distinct Irish twang.
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The postcard that arrives to the manor is addressed to "Michael MacBride," a Scottish spelling, instead of "McBride," the character's actual last name and typical Irish spelling. While this might be a mistake, it could be a subtle play on the fact that Connery, who plays McBride, is not Irish, but Scottish ( although Connery has admitted in an interview that he has part Irish ancestry).
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The lines of poetry quoted by Katie and Michael which include "The hills of old Ireland, how wondrously they stand" are from the poem "The Pillar Towers of Ireland" by Denis Florence MacCarthy (1817-1882).
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Michael McBride, the code name that Michael Weston (Jeffrey Donovan) from Burn Notice (2007) uses with his Irish contacts, is the name of the character that Sir Sean Connery played in this movie.
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The banshee and cóiste bodhar effects was achieved by shooting in black-and-white against a black background, the banshee and and the cóiste bodhar are entirely white, the negative was then printed, enlarged and kept out of focus. It was then added into film using the optical printer.
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CASTLE THUNDER: Heard several times during the last third of the movie.
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The version shown on Disney+ is dubbed.
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Spoilers 

The trivia item below may give away important plot points.

When in the death coach, Darby refers to Katie, saying to King Brian, "I expect it's better for the old to die than the young." Albert Sharpe lived to the age of 84. Janet Munro passed away twelve years later at the age of 38.
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See also

Goofs | Crazy Credits | Quotes | Alternate Versions | Connections | Soundtracks

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