Friday, August 02, 2019

Tonight's Movie: 3 Cheers for the Irish (1940) - A Warner Archive DVD Review

Dennis Morgan and Priscilla Lane star in 3 CHEERS FOR THE IRISH (1940), recently released on DVD by the Warner Archive.

It's highly debatable whether there was ever a cuter movie couple than Dennis Morgan and Priscilla Lane. The film may have its shortcomings, but as I wrote at the time of my first viewing in 2008, Morgan and Lane's sparkling eyes and dazzling smiles make them highly appealing as a young couple in love. As a result, I've always been quite fond of this film.

Lane plays Maureen, one of the three daughters of Irish policeman Peter Casey (Thomas Mitchell). Casey came over to New York on the boat with his best friend Gallagher (Alan Hale Sr.) and is very proud of his Irish heritage, to the extent that he immediately dislikes new policeman Angus Ferguson (Morgan) simply because he's a Scotman -- or "Scotchman," as Casey keeps insisting on saying. Angus was born in the U.S. but raised in Scotland, hence his charming brogue.

Angus and Maureen fall in love, but Peter has become even angrier with Angus, due in part to having been forced into retirement to make room for younger men on the force. Angus and Maureen elope, but they decide to temporarily keep the marriage a secret. Maureen returns to the family home to allow time for Angus to save money for a place big enough for a family and for Peter to warm up to Angus.

The newly retired Peter busies himself running for local office but still resents Angus, and when Angus and Maureen announce they're married, Peter disowns Maureen. Will anything bring the family back together? When Maureen is about to have a baby, her sisters (Virginia Grey and Irene Hervey) have a plan...

I  quite enjoy this film because of the cast. In addition to Morgan and Lane, I also love Virginia Grey (just seen in the newly reviewed THE HARDYS RIDE HIGH) and William Lundigan, who plays a young Dad-approved Irishman sweet on Hervey. Grey was apparently on loanout to Warner Bros. from MGM, where she worked steadily from 1937 to 1942. Lundigan, then a young WB contract player, would himself later make several films at MGM in 1942-43, before joining the Marines.

Thomas Mitchell was coming off one of the greatest years for any actor in Hollywood history, having played key supporting roles in GONE WITH THE WIND (1939), MR. SMITH GOES TO WASHINGTON (1939), THE HUNCHBACK OF NOTRE DAME (1939), ONLY ANGELS HAVE WINGS (1939), and STAGECOACH (1939), for which he won the Oscar as Best Supporting Actor.

It may seem odd to go from those great films to this pleasant but relatively minor film, but such was the life of a working character actor in Hollywood's Golden Age! Frankly he has too much screen time in this as the overbearing father; he has touching moments thanks to Mitchell's talent, but over the course of 99 minutes he also becomes incredibly annoying, at least until the final scenes. I enjoy the movie but would have liked it even more if they had toned him down a little and given the younger cast members more screen time.

3 CHEERS FOR THE IRISH was directed by Lloyd Bacon. It was flimed in black and white by Charles Rosher. The supporting cast includes Frank Jenks, J.M. Kerrigan, Henry Armetta, Morgan Conwway, and Alec Craig, with recognizable actors like John Ridgely and Edward Gargan in bit roles.

About 45 minutes into the movie there are some faint but noticeable popping sounds on the Warner Archive soundtrack which last a minute or two. There are also a handful of vertical lines on the screen in the latter part of the movie. For the most part, however, it's a perfectly watchable, crisp print without skips or major issues.

The Warner Archive disc includes the trailer.

Thanks to the Warner Archive for providing a review copy of this DVD. Warner Archive releases are MOD (manufactured on demand) and may be ordered from the Warner Archive Collection at the WBShop or from any online retailers where DVDs and Blu-rays are sold.


Blogger Glen said...

Laura, once again you have found a way to uncannily infiltrate my curiosity and satiate it perfectly. I swear, I don't know how you continually do this! Here I was about to blind buy this title during the current Warner Archive sale at the WB Shop when I started to wonder if maybe, just maybe, 99 minutes of Thomas Mitchell might be a bit much. Sure enough, you referred to that very thing in your review and just saved me some hard earned money. I can't tell you how many times your expert critiques have tapped into the very questions I had about potential purchases of unseen movies, steering me either for or against it. There has to be some sort of supernatural connection between us since it happens so often. I can't thank you enough for the always invaluable assistance your reviews provide. My only complaint is that you can't review every MOD title from every studio as these things are so ridiculously overpriced from the start, cultivated pruning is a necessity. Anyway, thanks again and now get back to work! --GLEN

2:22 PM  
Blogger Laura said...

Glen, thank you so much for that nice note -- feedback like that sure makes the "writing time" after I watch movies worth it! :)

It's a shame Mitchell was so overbearing in this film as I otherwise like the movie a lot, with its charming lead actors. The same studio's THE DAUGHTER OF ROSIE O'GRADY, which I reviewed a few days ago, had some strong plot similarities and the very same issue with way too much screen time for the pain-in-the-neck father (in that case, James Barton).

Happy movie viewing!

Best wishes,

9:25 PM  

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