Anyone who thinks that Sean Connery is the coolest man on the planet (and, let’s face it, as Bond he was) should check out his decidedly uncool performance (he sings!) in this delightful family film. Brimming with so many Irish clichés you’ll feel you’ve bathed in Guinness, it was actually a pet project of Walt Disney’s following a visit to the Emerald Isle in 1948 during which he declared he was going to make a movie about Little People. (And a decade later, with this, he did.)
Ageing Darby (Sharpe) is about to be replaced by strapping young Michael (Connery) as the caretaker of a big estate, but when he falls down a well, Darby ends up in the kingdom of leprechauns and the diminutive little fellows grant him three wishes that could help him provide for himself and his daughter. This is a load of old-fashioned blarney, of course, but beautifully filmed (on location in Ireland) and cleverly made (to make the leprechauns look little in comparison to Darby, the film-makers used ‘forced perspective’ – putting the leprechaun actors far in the background to make them appear smaller). Connery is a treat as the romantic lead and, Hollywood legend has it, Cubby Broccoli’s wife saw him in this role and told her husband he was the most handsome man she had ever seen, leading to Connery’s casting in the Broccoli-produced Dr No.
Is Darby O’Gill And The Little People suitable for kids? Here are our parents’ notes...
There is a spooky scene towards the end when one character is fatally injured and is visited by a banshee and a deathly coach sent to take her to the land of the dead.